Low back pain has been ranked as the leading cause of disability among 291 conditions examined by the Global Burden of Disease study in 2010. Low back pain can be caused by many sources from the body such as muscles, discs, ligaments, nerves and bones, and it’s important that all these potential sources are examined when obtaining the best pain relief techniques.
A Chiropractor is a type of doctor that specializes in the diagnosis and management of musculoskeletal injuries of the body. A lower back injury falls into this category, and classically, Chiropractors have been the go to doctors to help with these conditions. The first visit to a Chiropractor will include a focused clinical history where questions will be asked about past injuries, family and personal health history, current health problems, current and past health care measure taken, lifestyle and diet choices, and sleeping habits. Then a physical examination will be conducted that includes a comprehensive look at what is causing your back pain. This may include taking your blood pressure and/or X-rays, or requesting co-management with your family doctor to discuss other medical options.
After examination, the Chiropractor will offer a diagnosis and treatment plan that may last only a few visits to multiple visits over several weeks, it all depends on the nature of the injury. It is not uncommon for manual therapists to ask patients to seek manual care to treat their injuries over several weeks, as the body takes time to respond to the manual therapy, exercises and rest in between.
There are a variety of treatments Chiropractors use to help find pain relief for their patients. Chiropractors often use manipulation and mobilizations of the spine (moving the joints of the spine) to help improve the ranges of motion and activity of the spine and muscles, while offering pain relief to the localized area, thus improving function overall. In addition, the use of manual muscle therapy techniques and acupuncture can also be used to help with pain relief. It is important that your Chiropractor also works in finding a way to increase the active component of your treatment plan by prescribing home based exercises. Studies do show that when home based exercises are paired with visits to the chiropractor, low back pain intensity is quickly reduced and there are higher chances of long term success in reducing onset of the pain and preventing re-injury.
It is true that you are more likely to re-injure your back after you have already injured it before! That is why it is also important to get your low back checked out a few times a year even if you are not experiencing any pain. Remember, pain is your body’s way of saying I need rest to recover in the immediate, similar to how your lips get dry when you’re very thirsty. Now you don’t drink water when your lips only get dry do you? So why seek manual therapy for low back pain after experiencing it before, only when you have pain? So be active and proactive when seeking care for your low back pain!
Dr. Nourus Yacoub, DC
Medical Acupuncture Provider