Back pain has persistently been an issue with the global population for many years now. A whopping 80% of adults experience back pain at some time in their lives. It is one of the most common reasons for people to seek medical help. Hence, it also is the culprit for days of absence at work. It has no gender bias and targets both men and women.
However, the intensity of it may differ among individuals. For some it is mild, for some it could be severe. For some the pain is constant and for others, it comes as a sudden and sharp sensation. Back pain can be treated through conventional prescription drugs, physiotherapy treatments, and surgical intervention. Thanks to alternative treatment options like chiropractic care, people are now able to cure back pain without surgery or medication. Let’s first understand what causes back pain and how chiropractic treatments help treat the cause rather than the symptom.
What causes Back pain?
Back pain is mechanical in nature and it is usually associated with spondylosis. It is degeneration of the spine due to wear and tear in the joints, bones, and discs of the spine. Some causes of back pain include:
- Strains and sprains caused due to overexerting or tearing of ligaments, tendons or muscles. It can happen when lifting something heavy or not lifting it properly.
- Disc degeneration of the vertebrae due to aging. The discs in the backbone lose their integrity and their cushioning and lead to pain.
- Herniated discs can happen when the intervertebral discs become compressed or rupture which causes pain.
- Sciatica is caused by the compression of the sciatic nerve. It causes a burning sensation in the lower back and travels to the buttock and down a leg.
- Sports injury or traumatic injury which results in ligaments, muscles or tendons getting injured causes back pain.
- Skeletal irregularities like improper curvature of the spine that manifest itself only after a person reaches middle age leading to back pain.
- Spondylitis, which is an inflammation of the vertebrae, also causes back pain.
- Inflammation of the joints which leads to osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis.
Understanding Chiropractic Treatment
Chiropractic care is considered as an alternative or complementary medicine. The treatment is more focused on manipulation or manual adjustment of the spine. This not only reduces the pain but also increases the functionality of muscles, thereby directly addressing the cause rather than the symptom. The treatment is based on the theory that there is a deep connection between the spine and the nervous system and any structural abnormalities of the spine affects the nervous system. By providing chiropractic care, the structural irregularity is removed. The pressure on the neurological tissue is reduced, reflexes are established and helps to normalize spinal mobility. The result is not just reduced back pain but boosts overall health.
Who is a Chiropractor?
A chiropractor is a licensed healthcare professional who diagnoses and treats neuromuscular disorders. The chiropractors suggest exercise and other therapies reduce back pain. Some treatment options suggested by them can be very simple yet effective. According to Dr. Chad Woolner of Align Integrated Medical, stretching the lower back in all directions daily will prevent back pain and injuries. Suggestions like these are proof that it is possible to be free of back pain through simple and easy lifestyle adjustments. No matter the intensity of the pain, a chiropractor conducts a diagnosis of the back pain and suggests the right treatment option.
Chiropractic Diagnosis of Back Pain
Back pain is assessed after conducting a thorough physical examination and understanding the medical history of the patient. Chiropractors explain that additional diagnostic tests like X-rays are required to see if the position of the vertebrae is altered. A device that can detect temperature changes in the paraspinal region is used.
That will help to identify the spinal area that requires manipulation. A triage is conducted for differential diagnosis. That will aid in classifying the back into one of the three categories.
- Non-specific: This is a mechanical back pain which is a common type of pain. It has no identifiable cause.
- Nerve problem: When the root of the nerve is compressed or pinched it leads to herniated disc/sciatica/ spinal stenosis/spondylolisthesis.
- Potentially serious: Fracture, tumor, joint infection or other major neurological problems.
If the diagnosis concludes that it is potentially serious then the chiropractor will refer the patient to a medical specialist. But for other issues, spinal manipulation and adjustment techniques may be performed.
Core Chiropractic Treatment
The course of treatment for back pain varies on the condition of the patient but some of the common techniques chiropractors use to relieve pain are:
Soft Tissue Therapy
The chiropractor works on the muscles and helps to relax the tight and sore muscles. Different techniques and therapies are used to achieve the results. The pressure is applied to the muscles to stretch and relax it. It also helps to increase the range of motion.
Also known as chiropractic adjustment it is a high-velocity arm thrust that is applied to the vertebrae which are abnormal. This type of manual therapy is done with the intention of increasing functionality, restoring range of motion and reducing nerve irritation. This is the most recommended chiropractic manipulation and is part of the primary treatment plan for back pain cure.
Other forms of Therapies
A chiropractor may choose to use other techniques apart from spinal manipulation. Some of the therapies include:
- Heat and Cold Therapies: The chiropractors alternately use ice and heat therapy to treat back pain. Placing ice packs on the affected area numbs the back and then after 10 minutes, the heat pad is used to restore blood circulation. This procedure helps in faster healing.
- Exercise: Stretching and strengthening exercises focusing on the back are instructed to the patients.
- Massage: The soft tissues are massaged to reduce swelling, inflammation and improve blood circulation to promote quicker healing.
- Ultrasound: A device that produces sound waves to create heat is used to provide micro-massage to the tissue and joints. That will aid in reducing stiffness, spasms, and pain and increases blood circulation.
- Diathermy: Heat is passed to the denser tissues through short electromagnetic waves to relax the muscles. It helps in quicker healing, reduced spasms, and better blood circulation.
- Electrical muscle stimulation: Light electrical pulses are sent to various parts of the body by placing electrodes on the skin. This helps in reducing inflammation, spasms and brings pain relief.
Most of the time people ‘rough it out’, but that should not be the case as living in pain affects the quality of life. Choosing chiropractic care helps to get rid of pain quickly as this treatment option gets to the root of the issue and not simply mask it. Moreover, since there is no usage of medications there are no harmful side-effects. Most people get immediate relief from pain after their chiropractic adjustments. Hence it is considered the best complementary treatment option for back pain.