Oh, my aching back!
The American Chiropractic Association has recently published some interesting facts about back pain.
1. Lower back pain is the single leading cause of disability worldwide.
2. One half of all working Americans have back pain symptoms each year.
3. Back pain is one of the most common conditions for missed work and doctor’s visits.
4. Most causes of back pain are structural; not disease related.
5. 80% of the population will experience back problems at some time in their life.
There are three basic options for treating back pain. Your first choice is to do nothing. Just as your body will heal a cut, simple back strains will heal without any treatment. If your back hurts after increased activities a good solution is to rest, apply ice and reduce the activity that caused the problem. However, ignoring back problems will only prolong the inevitable resulting in the treatment of a more painful, costly health issue. The do nothing option may be a poor health choice.
There are many reasons for recurring or chronic back pain. The most common back problems that may require care include spinal misalignment and imbalance, whiplash, pinched nerves, osteoarthritis, stenosis, disc problems, osteoporosis, sacroiliac syndrome, spondylolisthesis and failed back surgery. These conditions will not go away in a few days and may require the evaluation and management of a professional. Pain is a warning sign that something is wrong. The five most dangerous words are “maybe it will go away.”
The second choice in back pain management is medical care. The most common option for treating back pain is medication. Of course, this is no different than ignoring pain, except with medication a person isn’t facing the problem because he/she can’t feel pain. Epidural shots have significant risks and these shots usually provide only short term relief. You walk out of the doctor’s office with the same bad back that brought you in. The only difference is that you now have strong, and potentially dangerous, medications injected into your back. The surgical option should be reserved for those patients that have incapacitating pain and loss of function. Spinal surgery produces scar tissue, may cause significant degenerative changes above and below the fusion and surgery will seldom eliminate back pain on a permanent basis.
The third option for treating back pain is to strengthen, stabilize and balance your body. The fundamental role of a chiropractor is to adjust misaligned spinal vertebrae. Chiropractic spinal adjustments will increase spinal mobility and help to balance the body resulting in less back and neck pain. Your chiropractor will advise you regarding prevention, exercises, rehabilitation and stabilization. Your body has a miraculous ability to heal and repair when it is strengthened, stabilized and balanced. My advice is this. Do the most conservative treatment first. When your back pain doesn’t go away, have your spine evaluated and treated by a chiropractor.
Dr. Craig Brue is an author, lecturer and chiropractic physician in SaddleBrooke, Arizona.