Jun 03, 2011 Posted Under: Alternative Medicine

Chiropractic Management of Low Back Pain

In chiropractic management of low back pain, we have an old adage, “There are only two kinds of people in the world: those that have low back pain and those who are going to get it.” A little bit of an exaggeration? Just ask as many people as you know if they ever had low back, and you will be regaled with horror stories.

So, what do you do if you suddenly get low back pain? Most people run for the heating pad and some kind of OTC, over the counter medication. Could be a big mistake! First, a heating pad, contrary to public opinion, usually makes the pain worse. It increases inflammation. Heat draws more blood to the already inflamed area. The increased blood flow results in the depositing of more substances that increase inflammation, like lactic acid, histamines and prostaglandins.

Combined, these substances increase pain, swelling and redness. Of course, when it comes to the low back, sometimes it’s hard to see these things. Low back pain usually exists where you can’t see it: beneath the skin around the spine, ligaments and tendons.

So let’s examine what often happens in a severe cases, like in a herniated lumbar disc. You may have been a victim of such an event. If you were, you know the symptoms well. They go like this:

  1. When you stand, you’re bent to one side like the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
  2. If you cough, it’s like the end of your world: the sharp, excruciating pain is unbearable.
  3. The muscle spasm is unreal, like somebody has got you in a vise grip.

Have you been there? If you have, you probably wanted to go straight to an emergency room. Barring that, what should you do? To begin with, you should apply ice to the area. Never place the ice directly on your skin because it can burn like fire. Instead, place a towel between the ice and your skin. Keep the ice on your low back for about 25 minutes and then off for about 45 minutes. Ice reduces inflammation by forcing blood, and thus the products of inflammation, away from the low back area. Next, you need some kind of pain pill, especially one that combines anti-inflammatory ingredients. Any OTC product that contains ibuprofen will work.

That’s all good for temporary relief, but what about more long term relief and something approaching a cure? That’s where chiropractic needs some close consideration. The first thing is to determine what’s causing these terrible symptoms. Actually, one of the most common causes, especially if you have the symptoms cited above, is a herniated lumbar disc: a slipped disc. A slipped disc occurs when the jelly-like substance inside the disc breaks through the elastic fibers containing it. It’s sort of like when a bubble forms on the outside of a tire that’s worn thin. But this bubble pinches down on a critical nerve root. Ouch!
Does this condition require and operation? Well, according to research, only a very small percent meet the criteria for an operation: intractable pain at night and loss of bowel and bladder control. This occurs when the tire is flat: the jelly-like contents of the disc has completely leek out.

With proper chiropractic treatment, this condition can be managed successfully. In our chiropractic office, treatment begins with ice and the distraction technique. This totally painless treatment, which is preformed on a specially designed table, decompresses the lumbar disc: reduces the pressure inside the disc. With reduced pressure, there’s less protruding material to pinch or irritate the nerve root. As pain lessens, our doctors begin spinal manipulation, the chiropractic adjustment. This treatment is designed to restore proper spinal joint function: full alignment and complete movement.

Spinal joint function is the key to a successful outcome. Chiropractic adjustments restore proper movement. Proper movement is the function of any joint. If a joint does not move as much as it should, it is a diseased joint. Often patients tell me that their back has seized up. With the inflammation gone and joint function and motion restored, symptoms are usually totally alleviated.

Even in severe cases, proper chiropractic care can quickly reduce and eliminate all symptoms associated with a herniated lumbar disc.

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