Lower Back Pain is the Most Common Reason to Visit a Chiropractor
About Low Back Pain
Pain in the lower back is second in frequency only to the common cold. 90% of adults will have at least 1 week of back pain in their lifetime. Lower back pain is a leading cause of lost work productivity each year.
Low Back Pain Relief Treatments
Despite pain in the lower back being so common, finding back pain relief can be difficult. Many back pain treatments just don't work. Most low back pain comes from mechanical problems; joints, muscles, discs, nerves, etc. Treatments that do not address mechanical defects usually won't work. Medications and bed rest are two of the most common medical treatments for back pain that more times than not fail. Studies have shown muscle relaxers to be ineffective at relieving low back pain, yet is a commonly prescribed medication. Over the counter and prescription anti-inflammatories can help reduce inflammation and provide some relief, but mechanical joint pain will persist and the long term consequence of these medications is stomach bleeding, kidney and liver damage. Pain medications such as opioids can relieve pain, but addiction and overuse are rampant today.
Exercises can help back pain, but exercises alone cannot relieve back pain if it is due to misalignment or malfunction of the spinal facet joints. Generalized exercises move the entire spine as a whole and do not unlock or mobilize the individual joints that can become stuck due to strain, injuries, etc.
Chiropractic Low Back Pain Relief
Chiropractic adjustments have been proven time and again to relieve many cases of back pain because they address the underlying problem of joint malfunction. Most mainstream chiropractors also add physio therapy modalities such as heat, cold, electrical stimulation, laser, etc and exercises found in other methods of care. In other words, chiropractic treatment encompasses treatments from other disciplines but adds spinal adjustments, something only chiropractors can do. This usually results in quicker pain relief without side effects of medications.
A Chiropractor Should Be Your First Choice for Low Back Pain
Chiropractors should be the gate keeper to see for low back pain. A good Doctor of Chiropractic knows more about lower back pain than any other doctor. They are able to diagnose the cause of back pain and either make referrals to other imaging or specialists or provide treatments that have very low risk and in most cases can quickly relieve your pain when other methods have failed. This approach is very effective, safe and saves costs.
Studies done by Blue Cross-Blue Shield found low back pain treatment with a chiropractor performed better and at much less cost for the insurer and patient.
With the medical model a patient is seen by the MD who makes the diagnosis, then a trial of medications, if they fail then a prescription for physical therapy, if that fails another visit to the MD and then a referral for x-rays or MRI, which means a radiologist must read the images, then referral possibly to a specialist orthopedist or neurologist who often refers back to physical therapy for more trial before more invasive procedures. More invasive procedures are likely because as we said before, these treatments are usually not very effective at relieving back pain. At each step there are co-pays for the patient and evaluations by each provider which is at cost to the insurer.
Chiropractic management of lower back complaints is streamlined. The chiropractor performs an exam and makes the diagnosis, imaging such as x-ray may be referred or done onsite. The chiropractor then provides all of the treatment in one place. The outcome on average is good so no referrals are needed. This means less co-pays to the patient and much less cost to the insurance company. Of course if the case does not resolve as expected, imaging such as MRI may be referred, but by the chiropractor so no extra physician visit is needed.
Red Flags: When NOT to See a Chiropractor But Go to an Emergency Room Immediately
If you develop loss of bowel or bladder control and/or numbness, loss of sensation around your anus, that is a medical emergency. Do not go to a chiropractor or your family medical doctor, go to an ER where they can evaluate you and perform an MRI immediately. These are signs of Cauda Equina Syndrome and can be very serious. This is a condition where something, usually a massively herniated disc is cutting off nerve impulses from the lower part of your spine. A delay in proper diagnosis and treatment could result in very serious complications.