Whether it’s an occasional twinge or a persistent ache, most of us experience back pain at some stage. In fact, 80 percent of the US population will have lower back pain in their lifetime.
Yet, despite how common back pain is, the precise cause is often unknown. Because of this, doctors’ treatment recommendations tend to vary a lot. Often, they’ll prescribe rest, stretching, and pain relievers. Although, if discomfort continues, your doctor may suggest seeing a chiropractor for back pain.
Once considered more of a fringe medical treatment for back pain, chiropractic has come into its own in recent years. Now, chiropractors across the US treat more than 27 million Americans every year. With this in mind, you might be wondering, should I see a chiropractor? Keep reading to find out when to see a chiropractor and what to expect.
How Can Chiropractic Help Back Pain?
Most people visit the chiropractor for back pain relief. But what does chiropractic involve and how could it help with your back pain?
Chiropractic involves the non-surgical treatment of disorders of the musculoskeletal and nervous systems. Chiropractors focus on treating the spine and its surrounding structures. Because of this, they offer unique insights into spinal misalignment and back pain.
This misalignment could be the result of a sports injury, wear and tear, or bad posture. But, one of the most common causes of sudden back pain by far is an automobile accident. In these cases, a personal injury chiropractor with the right expertise could make all the difference to your recovery.
Chiropractic treatment for back pain centers on repositioning the spine and joints. This helps everything work together within healthy skeletal, muscular, and nervous systems. Your chiropractor can also ease nerve pressure, improve flexibility, and reduce muscle tension. As such, chiropractic helps bring stability back to your everyday movements. This ensures your back no longer needs to take on extra loads to make up for any tension or misalignment.
What Does Chiropractic Involve?
Most chiropractors use spinal manipulation manual therapy as their primary treatment tool. In fact, chiropractors across the US now perform one million adjustments every day. These adjustments help improve mobility in a certain area, such as the spine, lower back, or neck. The result is a reduction in symptoms such as muscle tightness, pain, and tingling.
Chiropractic manual therapy is often a two-step process:
- Step 1: Spinal Manipulation and Manual Manipulation – This is the essence of chiropractic adjustments. Spinal manipulation refers to more forceful, short-lever arm thrusts applied to abnormal vertebra. This kind of initial manual manipulation improves functionality and reduces nerve irritability. This then restores a more comprehensive range of motion in the back.
- Step 2: Mobilization – Chiropractic mobilization refers to low-velocity manipulation, movement, and stretching. This part of the process helps stretch out the muscles and joints with the aim of increasing the range of movement throughout the body.
Despite this focus on spinal manipulation, chiropractic rarely begins or ends here. More traditional concepts of medicine involve addressing the resulting pain. In contrast, chiropractors aim to understand and resolve the root cause of the problem. Their treatment goal is ongoing improvement rather than a quick fix.
First, your chiropractor will spend a good amount of time watching how you move, checking your flexibility, and talking with you. They’ll ask when the pain started or when it feels more intense. They’ll also seek to understand your work activities, daily habits, and leisure pursuits. This information often holds the key to what may be contributing to the back pain you’re experiencing as well as any other symptoms.
Likewise, once you have a better range of movement, your chiropractor will show you how to move in a way that avoids further injury. Their goal is to encourage activity through correct movement. After all, active people are healthy and happy people.
When to See a Chiropractor for Back Pain Relief
Sudden-onset back pain will often subside with rest, stretching, and pain medications.
But when pain continues or flares up more often, relief can be harder to achieve using these same methods. Many of these patients are reluctant to take opioids or opt for surgery. As such, chiropractic offers a safe and effective alternative form of pain relief.
That said, chiropractic isn’t suitable for treating all forms of back pain. If you have a slipped or herniated disc, spinal manipulations may make the issue worse. And pain from conditions like arthritis rarely responds well to chiropractic care. Instead, chiropractic is most effective for muscle-related or unexplained back pain.
Research also shows that chiropractic care can enhance a patient’s self-efficacy motivation. This allows for better coping abilities and better pain and disability outcomes. In short, chiropractic offers a better internal psychological response to pain. This makes future pain relief more achievable through a greater understanding of what pain is and how to respond to it. With this in mind, if back pain is something you’ve dealt with on and off for years, chiropractic could finally offer you a more lasting form of relief.
Should You See a Chiropractor for Back Pain?
Seeing a chiropractor for back pain may not be a suitable option for everyone. But for those of you with unexplained back pain, chiropractic could offer the solution you’ve been looking for.
And, when you consider the personal and financial impact back pain can have on the individual and the wider world, it’s a safe and effective treatment worth further investigation.
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