Having treated many cases of low back pain over the years, I have heard lots of explanations of how their back pain began. I have heard everything from falling down stairs to sleeping on a bad mattress to sneezing. But at the end of the day, most cases of low back pain originate from only 5 causes.
1. An acute accident or injury. For this type of case the diagnosis is typically very straightforward. A slip and fall, muscle strain, vehicle accident, sprain from lifting or similar event often causes immediate pain or pain within 24 hours of the event.
2. Sub-acute accident or injury. This type of case can be a little more difficult because the patient cannot often recall a specific reason for the pain. It usually stems from a mild injury that went unnoticed by the patient sometime before the pain began.
3. Chronic pain from ongoing mechanical stress. An example of this type of problem might be a patient that has a desk job that involves hours of sitting each day. Even if they have ergonomic furniture, the prolonged sitting causes back pain.
4. Degenerative discs or joints. These conditions can affect a wide range of patients. This is usually the result of disc and joint deterioration as a result of an injury long ago. Or in some cases, a patient is simply more prone to early spinal degeneration as a result of genetics.
Degenerative joint conditions often develop silently for years and are not revealed until the patient realizes that their back pain is getting worse over time. Degenerative disc processes also include bulging or herniated discs that can result in pinched nerves.
5. Other disease processes such as arthritis. Although patients are often told that their condition is the result of “arthritis”, but in many cases patients with degenerative disc conditions are misdiagnosed as having arthritis.
Effective treatment for back pain is dependent on getting the diagnosis right.
If the pain is solely the result of a recent injury or tight muscles, rest and cold packs may be effective.
Many doctors will prescribe pain killers. However, for conditions that have been present for more than a few days, these drugs are likely to bring about temporary relief at best. When the pills wear off, the pain returns. That is because the underlying condition that is causing the pain is not being addressed.
If a patient fails to respond to the first round of drugs, another more powerful selection might be offered. Physical therapy may also be recommended. Physical therapists usually provide treatments such as ultrasound or electric stimulation. These therapies can be helpful for many patients. In addition the patients will often be taught how to do specific exercises at home. This is beneficial for many patients.
If a patient has a disc injury, they may be referred to a spinal surgeon. In extreme cases spinal surgery may be the only reasonable solution. However, spinal surgery necessarily damages healthy tissue while gaining access to the damaged tissue, and should be considered a last resort.
Often patients choose to bypass the traditional medical route and seek alternative solutions for their back pain. Preferred options may include massage, acupuncture and chiropractic care.
Chiropractors are spinal specialists. Chiropractic training includes more time spent studying spinal function in detail than any other medical provider. It make sense that chiropractors will typically have successful treatments for a wide range of spinal issues.
Spinal manipulation is one of the most familiar treatments offered by chiropractors. Many people are surprised to learn that chiropractic care involves much more than spinal manipulation. In our office for example, we provide detailed examinations, therapies such as electrical stimulation, rehab training in corrective exercises, an incredibly wide range of manipulative procedures including very gentle approaches.
Regardless of the cause for back pain, there is likely an effective treatment available. The key is matching the treatment to the correct diagnosis. More
Spinal misalignments cause many health problems because vertebrae that are not aligned properly can irritate important nerves and restrict their effectiveness. The nerves coming out of the upper back innervate the lungs, and if these nerves aren’t functioning optimally they may make the lungs more sensitive to asthma triggers. In fact, there are a number of studies that show that chiropractic correction of these spinal misalignments help improve the symptoms of asthma.
Dr. Ray Hayek conducted a trial at 16 treatment centers in Australia, involving 420 patients, in an effort to find out what effects spinal manipulation has on symptoms such as depression and anxiety, general health status, and the levels of immunity. He tested the concentrations of both an immunoglobulin (IgA) and an immunosuppressant (cortisol) to gauge his results. Dr. Hayek was trying to prove that different forms of manual therapy (including massage) improve symptoms and lower cortisol levels in asthma patients.
Dr. Hayek reported that only the patient group that underwent spinal manipulation displayed significant improvement in asthma symptoms. Conducting only interviews at the treatment centers or being monitored at home did not yield these improvements. In addition, patients actually undergoing spinal manipulation displayed dramatic increases of IgA and decreases of cortisol even after asthma treatment had ceased, suggesting that the treatments affected the patients’ long-term health. These patients were expected to ward off subsequent asthmatic attacks.
These changes not only suggest that the effects of spinal manipulation are more far-reaching than commonly believed, but that they may be more long-term as well. The gain in health achieved after spinal manipulations were performed is expected to reduce the incidence and severity of pathogenic invasion of the airways. There would be less of a risk under these circumstances of experiencing the symptoms of asthma.
Another study was conducted by the National University Hospital (Rigshospitalet) in Copenhagen, Denmark. The purpose of their randomized patient- and observer-blinded cross-over trial was to evaluate the efficacy of chiropractic treatment in the management of chronic asthma when combined with pharmaceutical maintenance therapy. Patients were randomized to receive either active chiropractic spinal manipulative treatment or sham chiropractic spinal manipulative treatment twice weekly for 4 weeks, and then crossed over to the alternative treatment for another 4 weeks. During the course of the study, objective lung function did not change. However, during the study, non-specific bronchial hyperreactivity (n-BR) improved by 36% and patient-rated asthma severity decreased by 34% compared with the baseline values.
In another study conducted in 1996 by the Michigan Chiropractic Council (MCC), a panel of doctors tested the effectiveness of chiropractic care on children with asthma. The study, which took place during May and June of 1996, examined the impact of chiropractic care on asthmatic patients from birth to age 17. “After 30 days of chiropractic health care, patients averaged only one attack, whereas prior to the study they were experiencing more than four attacks,” said MCC Dr. Bob Graham, who directed the study. “Medications, which can be costly, were decreased by nearly 70 percent. Finally, patient satisfaction was rated 8.5 on a scale of 10.”
According to Richard Pistolese, research assistant for the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association, “Based upon information currently available, chiropractic care represents a safe non-pharmacological health care approach, that may be associated with a decrease in asthma-related impairment, reduced respiratory effort, and a decrease incidence of asthma attacks.” Pistolese goes further to say, “The correction of vertebral subluxation is a non-invasive procedure, which could reduce or eliminate the need for medication, and potentially ease the severity of the asthmatic condition.”
Based on these studies and results other patients have gotten with chiropractic care, if you or someone you love suffers from asthma, you may want to try chiropractic care.
When was the last time you woke up saying, “Wow! I feel great!”? How long has it been since you were headache-free? Close your eyes and imagine what it would be like to start and end your day without a headache. Maybe you’ve had headaches for so long that you accept them as something you have to live with. The truth is, you don’t have to live with headaches.
Because headaches are so common, some people think that getting a headache is just a normal part of life! They couldn’t be more wrong! Headaches are a definitive sign that something has gone wrong.
There are many types of headaches: migraine, tension, and cluster. A frequent and overlooked cause of headaches is the malfunction of spinal bones in the neck and upper back. When bones of the spine lose their normal position or motion, sensitive nerves and blood vessels to the head can be affected. When spinal nerves and related tissues are stretched or irritated, they can produce throbbing headaches. Aspirin and medications may cover up these warning signs, but do not correct the underlying structural cause.
Many people find relief and correction with chiropractic care. If a thorough examination reveals reduced range of motion, loss of normal spinal curves, or mechanical restrictions, chiropractic care should be considered.
Many patients report headache relief almost instantly. Others find that the correction of their problem takes longer because their spinal problem has existed undetected for many years. Every patient responds differently. Regardless of how you respond, enjoy the drug-free results millions have enjoyed by consulting a chiropractic physician.
Research Validating Chiropractic Treatment for Headaches
A new report released by researchers at the Duke University Evidence-Based Practice Center in Durham, NC, found that spinal manipulation (as performed by a chiropractor) is an effective treatment option of tension headaches and headaches that originate in the neck. The report, titled “Evidence Report: Behavioral and Physical Treatments for Tension-Type and Cervicogenic Headache,” was authored by Douglas C. McCrory, M.D., MI-ISc; Donald B. Penzien, PhD., and Rebecca N. Gray, D.Phil. Based on a literature review of several headache treatment options, a panel of 25 multidisciplinary experts concluded that spinal manipulation resulted in almost immediate improvement for cervicogenic headaches (those that originate in the neck) and had significantly fewer side effects and longer-lasting relief of tension-type headache than a commonly-prescribed medication.
The researchers at Duke examined the quality research for physical methods, such as acupuncture, cervical spinal manipulation, and physiotherapy, and behavioral methods, such as relaxation, biofeedback, and stress management training, of treating the two types of headache – tension and cervicogenic.
Researchers concluded the following:
“Cervical spinal manipulation was associated with improvement in headache outcomes in two trials involving patients with neck pain and/or neck dysfunction and headache. Manipulation appeared to result in immediate improvement in headache severity when used to treat episodes of cervicogenic headache when compared with an attention-placebo control. Furthermore, when compared to soft-tissue therapies (massage), a course of manipulation treatments resulted in sustained improvement in headache frequency and severity.”
For tension-type headaches, the researchers point to a study that compared manipulation to amitriptyline, a drug commonly prescribed for headache. Said the researchers from Duke, “Despite the uniform and relatively low dose of amitriptyline, however, adverse effects were much more common with amitriptyline (82% of patients) than with manipulation (4%). During the 4-week period after both treatments ceased, patients who had received manipulation were significantly better than those who had taken amitriptyline for both headache frequency and severity. Although amitriptyline is usually continued for longer than 6 weeks, the return to near-baseline values for headache outcomes in this group contrasts with a sustained reduction in headache frequency and severity in those who had received manipulation.” More