Multifidus: The Key Cause of Back Pain in Australians

Multifidus – an often overlooked but key cause of back pain in Australians.

Back pain debilitates around 80% of all people at some point in life – a problem that affects one’s mobility and sometimes, quality of life.

The true causes of back pain can be diverse – strained muscles, injury, structural problems, posture, and movement, but today the team at The Brisbane Spine Clinic want to shed some light on a cause of lower back pain that is quite foreign to most, Multifidus.

Multifidus is one of the most overlooked causes of back pain so let us explain why and what it all means.

What is Multifidus

The multifidus is a thin muscle that plays a crucial role in the stability of the spine. The multifidus attaches at every vertebra, meaning that it is involved with the stability and health of the spine at every vertebral joint.

The weakening of this muscle – from immobility, a sedentary lifestyle or pre-conditions may cause important muscle tissue to be replaced with fat. In medical terms, this is known as the deconditioning of the multifidus muscle.

The deconditioning of the multifidus is a problem because the loss of muscle mass often results in issues to the lower back and core including:

  • Instability of the spine/trunk
  • Poor spinal posture
  • Over-compensation in secondary stabiliser muscles
  • Poor quality movement and hip/back movement patterns

If your multifidus is in a bad condition then “going under the knife”, spinal injections or medication may not be an effective way to resolve pain caused by this underlying factor.

What Can We do to Fix this Problem?

The first step is awareness.

The next step if prevention of the problem where possible: exercise and activity are a great way to prevent this problem in your spine. Atrophy and degeneration might be real risks as you get older, but they’re not set in stone and exercise can reduce your risk and strengthen the multifidus before it starts to be a problem.

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