Dr. Craig W. Brue
Lower back pain is the single leading cause of disability worldwide. The American Chiropractic Association confirms that 80% of the population will experience back problems at some time in their life. This article will help you understand your treatment options for lower back pain.
First, what causes lower back pain? The most common cause is overuse. Just like your legs get tired when you walk too much, your lower back may ache after increased activities. Simple back strain may be treated with rest, ice and avoiding the activity that caused the problem. Anti-inflammatory medications may provide temporary relief for simple backache.
However, recurring lower back problems may require professional help. Chronic back pain may occur due to spinal misalignment, whiplash, stenosis (pinching and narrowing of nerve openings), sacro-iliac syndrome, spondylolisthesis, osteoporosis, spondylosis (osteoarthritis), disc degeneration/herniation and scoliosis. The accurate diagnosis of most spinal conditions is accomplished with x-ray or MRI studies.
Medical Care: The typical medical treatment for lower back pain is medication, anti-inflammatory medication and muscle relaxants. Will that help? Medication may help to relieve the pain, but drugs will not correct the cause of the problem.
Physical Therapy: According to the American Physical Therapy Association, “Physical therapists are health care professionals who restore and improve movement.” However, a physical therapist is not a spine specialist. A physical therapist cannot order x-rays or imaging studies. Physical therapists are not MD’s and they do not prescribe medication. A physical therapist usually treats back pain with massage and exercises.
Pain Management: Pain clinics usually prescribe stronger drugs and may recommend epidural spine injections. Will that help back pain? According to medical literature, epidural shots are dangerous, of short-term duration and usually ineffective. The American Medical Association recommends that epidural shots be reserved for those that have failed conservative care.
Chiropractic: Chiropractors are specialists in spinal bio-mechanics. Compared to family MD’s and physical therapists, chiropractors have significantly more training related to the evaluation of spine pain. In fact, a federal study by the Agency for Health Care Policy “recommended that low back pain sufferers choose the most conservative care first. And, it recommended spinal manipulation as the only safe and drugless form of treatment for acute low back problems in adults.”
The biggest difference between all other forms of medical treatment and chiropractic care is this: A chiropractor is the only health care provider that specializes in spinal adjustments to correct vertebral misalignment. In a matter of a fraction of a second, a chiropractor can re-align vertebrae and restore spinal function; a process that can give instantaneous and permanent relief. Healing takes place very quickly when misalignment is corrected because nerve function is improved.
Chiropractic care is the safest and the most effective way to relieve lower back pain. My advice: If you are experiencing chronic lower back pain, try conservative chiropractic care first.
Dr. Craig Brue is an author, lecturer and chiropractic physician in SaddleBrooke, Arizona.