Multifidus – a big player in low back pain!

The multifidus muscle may not be very big, but it is critical to the health and stability of the lower back!

Low back pain is a highly prevalent problem in today’s world and is often a recurrent condition.

Back pain affects around 80% of all people at some point in their life, and amazingly 60 – 80% of these people will have more than one episode!

What is multifidus?

The multifidus is a thin muscle that attaches to every vertebra. It is made up of a series of small muscle bundles on either side of the spine.

Medical literature has reported a connection between a weak multifidus muscle and chronic low back pain!

What is its role?

Its most important job is to stabilize the low back and plays a crucial role in the stability of the whole spine.

Depending on how you want to move, this muscle can: –

  • move in the same direction – twisting the body in one direction
  • in opposite directions – turning the hips one way and the shoulders the other way
  • in complex ways – such as extending the back whilst bending and twisting

As the multifidus muscle attaches to numerous points, it allows each vertebra to work individually and more efficiently.

How does multifidus contribute to low back pain?

As multifidus contributes to lower back stability, when it is weak it destabilises the spine and provides less support to the vertebra, which in turn puts more pressure on other muscles and connective tissues, which triggers more low back tightness increasing the risk of lower back pain.

This loss of muscle strength and stability can cause the muscle to weaken over time and can cause compression of the vertebra and a whole load of other back-related problems!

Problems associated with a weak multifidus muscle include:

  • Nerve compression – “pinched nerve”
  • Referred pain – pain coming from the spine and felt in other parts of the body
  • Herniated discs – “slipped disc”
  • Spinal osteophytes – bone spurs
  • Osteoarthritis – “wear and tear”

What can we do to fix it?

Prevention is better than cure!

Exercise and activity are a fantastic way to help prevent this problem from occurring. Weakness and general wear and tear can be a real problem as you age, however, exercise can reduce the risk and strengthen the multifidus before it starts to be a problem.

Having said that, if you have back pain seeking treatment from qualified professionals like our team here at Heale’s Chiropractic Clinics, could put you well on the road to recovery and back to your daily activities pain -free!

If you would like some further information or to speak to a member of our team please call us on: Hitchin 01462 420077 or Luton 01582 579687, alternatively e-mail us at: or