Although chiropractors care for more than just back pain, many patients visit chiropractors looking for relief from this pervasive condition. In fact, 31 million Americans experience low-back pain at any given time.
Here are a few interesting facts about back pain:
– Low back pain is the single leading cause of disability worldwide, according to the Global Burden of Disease 2010.
– One-half of all working Americans admit to having back pain symptoms each year.
– Back pain is one of the most common reasons for missed work. In fact, back pain is the second most common reason for visits to the doctor’s office, outnumbered only by upper-respiratory infections.
– Most cases of back pain are mechanical or non-organic—meaning they are not caused by serious conditions, such as inflammatory arthritis, infection, fracture or cancer.
– Americans spend at least $50 billion each year on back pain—and that’s just for the more easily identified costs.
– Experts estimate that as many as 80 percent of the population will experience a back problem at some time in their lives.
What causes back pain?
The back is a complicated structure of bones, joints, ligaments and muscles. You can sprain ligaments, strain muscles, rupture disks and irritate joints, all of which can lead to back pain. While sports injuries or accidents can cause back pain, sometimes the simplest of movements—for example, picking up a pencil from the floor— can have painful results. In addition, arthritis, poor posture, obesity and psychological stress can cause or complicate back pain. Back pain can also directly result from disease of the internal organs, such as kidney stones, kidney infections, blood clots or bone loss.
How chiropractors treat back pain
Used primarily by doctors of chiropractic for the last century, spinal adjusting has been largely ignored by most others in the health care community until recently. Now, with today’s growing emphasis on treatment and cost effectiveness, manipulation is receiving more widespread attention.
A chiropractic spinal adjustment is a safe and effective spine pain treatment. It reduces pain, decreases medication, rapidly advances physical therapy,and requires very few passive forms of treatment, such as bed rest.
In fact, after an extensive study of all currently available care for low back problems, the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research—a federal government research organization—recommended that low back pain sufferers choose the most conservative care first. And it recommended spinal manipulation as the only safe and effective, drugless form of initial professional treatment for acute low back problems in adults.
A patient information article published recently in the Journal of the American Medical Association also suggested chiropractic care as an option for people suffering from low back pain–and noted that surgery is usually not needed and should only be tried if other therapies fail.
Tips to prevent back pain
– Maintain a healthy diet and weight.
– Remain active—under the supervision of your doctor of chiropractic.
– Avoid prolonged inactivity or bed rest.
– Warm up or stretch before exercising or other physical activities, such as gardening.
– Maintain proper posture.
– Wear comfortable, low-heeled shoes.
– Sleep on a mattress of medium firmness to minimize any curve in your spine.
– Lift with your knees, keep the object close to your body, and do not twist when lifting.
– Quit smoking. Smoking impairs blood flow, resulting in oxygen and nutrient deprivation to spinal tissues.
– Work with your doctor of chiropractic to ensure that your computer workstation is ergonomically correct.