Lower back pain is a common occurrence among Americans, in fact 31 million Americans experience back pain at any given time. It is the most common reason for visits to the chiropractor’s office and second most common reason for missed work.
The reason for lower back pain is often idiopathic (of unknown cause). Should you experience pain in the lower back, it is advisable to consult with a chiropractor, since a single event may not have caused your pain. A detailed examination and the proper health history must be taken in order to determine the cause. Most people do not exercise the proper biomechanics, and that can lead to sprain/strain injuries. When I started practicing, I realized that most of my patients do not lift properly, sleep incorrectly, and common movements such as reaching, bending are not executed properly.
A good majority of my back pain patients suffer from acute pain, and it is often caused by sudden injury to the muscles and ligaments supporting the back. People that are involved in sports related injuries, car accident related injuries will often experience acute pain, although acute lower back pain can lead to more chronic conditions. Depending on the severity of the injury, acute back pain can last from several weeks to several months.
Chronic back pain on the other hand, is long term pain and it is often caused by some type of degenerative changes. I have noticed over the years of practice that many people who suffer from chronic back pain are arthritic. Other conditions may cause chronic back pain as well.
Some causes of chronic back pain:
arthritis, severe injuries, fractures, surgeries, disc herniation, spinal stenosis, scoliosis, age, obesity, and the list goes on.
Chiropractic treatment is very effective for the treatment of lower back pain. The Journal of the American Medical Association released new guidelines for back pain treatment that encouraged patients to seek chiropractic and physical therapy before resorting to surgery. Several of the studies performed have demonstrated that chiropractic techniques are very effective for the treatment of lower back pain1-2.
Chiropractors diagnose and treat health problems that affect the nerves, muscles, bones, and joints of the body. The doctor will gather some information from your health history and perform a physical examination in order to rule out certain conditions. X-rays may be taken, or in some instances, blood work may be ordered for more information about your condition. Chiropractors use spinal manipulations accompanied by physiotherapy to treat your lower back pain. Some chiropractors may use dry needling (similar to acupuncture), nutrition, myofascial release, and other equipments (lumbar belts, EMS machines etc..) to treat your condition.
Many cases of back pain are non-organic and are not caused by serious conditions; however, there are some cases that do require immediate attention. You should always consult with your doctor in time of doubt.
Nesly Clerge, DC, NRCME
DOT medical examiner
- Rubinstein SM, van Middelkoop M, et. al, "Spinal manipulative therapy for chronic low-back pain," Cochrane Database Syst Rev (2): CD008112. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD008112.pub2. PMID 21328304.
- Dagenais S, Gay RE, Tricco AC, Freeman MD, Mayer JM (2010), "NASS Contemporary Concepts in Spine Care: Spinal manipulation therapy for acute low back pain," Spine J 10 (10): 918–940. doi:10.1016/j.spinee.2010.07.389. PMID 20869008.
- Leininger B, Bronfort G, Evans R, Reiter T, "Spinal manipulation or mobilization for radiculopathy: a systematic review," Phys Med Rehabil Clin N Am 22 (1): 105–25 (2011). doi:10.1016/j.pmr.2010.11.002. PMID 21292148.
- Hahne AJ, Ford JJ, McMeeken JM, "Conservative management of lumbar disc herniation with associated radiculopathy: a systematic review,"Spine 35 (11): E488–504 (2010).