Chiropractic Adjustments as an alternative treatment option for Chronic Low Back Pain
An estimated one third of the US population has experienced low back pain within the past three months, according to the USA Bone and Joint Initiative (https://www.boneandjointburden.org/fourth-edition/iiaa0/low-back-pain). Within this group, a certain percentage of people will experience pain which extends beyond three months. Pain which lasts longer than 90 days is defined as chronic pain.
Low back and neck pain cost the US economy an enormous sum of $134.5 billion in 2016, according to the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation (https://www.healthdata.org/news-release/low-back-and-neck-pain-tops-us-health-spending#:~:text=Americans%20in%202016%20spent%20an,and%20public%20and%20private%20insurance). This spending outpaced both diabetes and heart disease. The question can be raised as to why the US population has such a public health crisis in the realm of spine related pain disorders.
Lifestyle factors can play a role in why an individual develops persistent back pain. Excessive body weight increases gravity’s force upon the structures of the body and can predispose people to injuries as well as progressive and degenerative conditions like osteoarthritis. Sedentary living in the form of prolonged sitting and absent exercising can weaken the body’s ability to resist physical stress which further predisposes one to pain related conditions. Still, poor lifestyle habits do not guarantee that an individual will experience low back pain. Many times, previous injuries to the spine mix with poor lifestyle habits to produce the concerns which lead to the doctor’s office.
Common injuries to the spine include birth trauma, childhood falls, sports injuries, car crashes and collisions, work injuries, and repetitive motion disorders. These injuries can lead to more problems down the road if they’re left untreated, with spinal pain being one of the more common future problems. Conventional medical treatment for chronic low back pain includes, but is not limited to, analgesic medication, muscle relaxers, topical pain relievers, spinal surgery, nerve blocks, corticosteroid injections, and spinal cord stimulator implants. While these therapeutic approaches help many suffering people experience relief, they are not for everyone.
Many people express a desire to receive treatment for their low back pain that is less invasive than drugs and surgery. People are aware of the negative effects medications can have upon organ function and health. For instance, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) can have negative consequences for the stomach and liver. The permanency of spinal surgery and the uncertainty of its ability to remove pain is an additional source of apprehension for prospective patients to pursue the conventional medical model. More and more people are turning to alternative and complementary medicine to see if they can experience pain relief before turning to the more invasive medical procedures and therapies.
Chiropractic care is one such complementary approach that many people trust for the management of their chronic low back pain. A 2018 study (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29371112/) published in the Spine journal found that chiropractic adjustments were an effective treatment for chronic low back pain. The data also appeared to show that chiropractic adjustments were superior to simple joint mobilization procedures in helping patients experience decreased low back pain and improved spinal function.
Chiropractic adjustments can help give people relief from their chronic low back pain for several reasons. Misalignments in the spine can put pressure on the spinal cord, spinal nerve roots, and spinal nerves which can lead to common pain perceptions like numbness, tingling, and burning. Pressure on these structures can also produce muscle weakness as well as reduced or absent deep tendon reflexes. Scar tissue formation and build up in the spine can also produce pain by proliferating pain sensitive tissue. When there is a build up of scar tissue there is an increased likelihood of feeling symptoms while moving. Chiropractic adjustments help to break up this scar tissue within the spinal column to allow an individual’s body to remodel and heal. Adjustments also release feel good chemicals called endorphins which help people experience a temporary and immediate improvement in their pain symptoms.
In conclusion, spine related pain disorders are a massive problem for the US population and economy. There are many medical treatments which can help people experience relief from their suffering. Still, patient-centered care demands taking into consideration the individual’s beliefs and preferences. Many people do not believe drugs and surgery are in their best interest, so they are turning to alternative and complementary approaches. Chiropractic care has been demonstrated to help chronic low back pain sufferers experience relief. Consider a consultation with a chiropractor to see if your case may respond to this alternative and complementary approach.
About the author:
Dr. Joshua Burnham sees many patients with chronic pain disorders. He is an Owatonna chiropractor that specializes in the Gonstead Technique. You can contact him by reaching out to him through his office’s website (http://www.pcschiro.com).