acute locked back

Acute locked back is Stage 3 of the developmental spinal cascade. It happens in a life-defining moment, the details of which you can recall many years later. It is a fluke incident when you are caught off-guard by an electric cleaver of pain through your body that takes your breath away as it brings you to the ground.

With the acute facet locking the whole body locks rigid and movement of any kind is excruciating. Although there appears never to be any warning, acute locked back usually has its origins in lack of hydrostatic pressure caused by incipient disc break-down and corresponding weakness of the local deep spinal muscles. 

In Sarah Key's book 'Back Sufferers' Bible' she describes acute locked back as the ultimate back crisis, still memorable 20 years later

All spines, even healthy ones, must brace themselves as they pass through a vulnerable part of range or 'window of weakness' at the beginning of a leaning forward action. If a disc between two vertebrae lacks pressure through the degenerative process, it is unable to generate sufficient oomph to keep its segments stable as the spine goes over. 

If this occurs in freak coincidence with poor coordination of the deep spinal muscles (multifidus) and delayed bracing of the deep abdominal muscles (transversus abdominis) the spine 'disjoints' or comes undone as a facet joint slips askew. Although the errant movement is infinitesimally small, the body senses the threat and locks everything instantly with a huge gust of muscle seizure. It is a frightening event. 

Sarah Key explains that abdominal back pressure helps control the 'window of weakness' in early bending range

Acute facets locking usually goes hand in glove with recent back exertion, such as chopping wood or laying floor tiles, so that the powerful long back extensor muscles are fatigued and don't switch off properly. This is an additional factor that impairs the other muscles switching on and may contribute to acute facet locking. 

You can read all about this in The Back Sufferers' Bible. Chapter 4 takes you through the classic features of this syndrome and how to can get yourself out of crisis. It takes you through the acute, subacute and long term rehabilitation program so that this unwelcome event never happens again. 

Continue to Stage 4  Prolapsed or 'Slipped' Disc

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