Low back pain is one of the most common ailments to afflict humans. In fact, it is the leading cause of disability worldwide and the second most common reason people visit a doctor. Approximately half of all adults every year will have recurrent episodes of low back pain. Low back pain can be devastating to a person’s ability to live a normal life, and often leads to depression, even more so than other spinal problems. Low back pain can be localized or it can progress into pain radiating down the leg, called Sciatica.
Low back pain is often caused by subluxations (misalignments) of the spine. This can lead to a condition called subluxation degeneration, also known as arthritis. This includes degenerative disc disease (DDD), degenerative joint disease (DJD), and bone spurs. These are all part of the degenerative process which occurs as a result of uncorrected subluxations. This same degenerative process can cause disc bulges or herniations, scoliosis, and spinal stenosis. These abnormal spinal conditions can progress to sciatic nerve pain.
Many low back problems are caused by trauma, injury, or impacts. Sometimes it is a muscle strain or sprained ligaments from a fall or lifting injury. But often people will have recurrent low back pain in the same area repeatedly, after relatively minor activities. This can be an indicator of an underlying structural problem and should be thoroughly investigated.
Low back problems are often caused by a sedentary lifestyle. It is well known that people who sit all day have many more problems than those who are active. In fact, the CDC says that “sitting is the new smoking”. While that might sound extreme, it accurately states how bad it is for us to sit for many hours at a time. Low back pain does not usually resolve on its own. It might go away for a while, only to return again and become chronic. Many people benefit from exercise, stretching, massage, or yoga. Some need to avoid, at least temporarily, certain activities to allow their back time to heal. But bed rest and immobilization are usually NOT helpful for back pain, except with severe conditions such as fractures and short-term after surgery.
Research shows that a spine that is subluxated (misaligned) often degenerates slowly over time. If a person has a subluxation (misalignment) of the low back, the frequency and severity of pain are not good predictors of the amount of degeneration (arthritis) that is occurring. The condition can be worsening silently. That is why it is so important to get to the cause of the problem early and address it properly. We want to correct the problem, if possible. And if there is permanent degeneration, we want to stop or slow down the process.
From 2001 to 2011, the number of spinal fusion surgeries performed in U.S. hospitals increased 70%, making them more frequently performed than even hip replacements. This surgery is radical and should be reserved for extreme situations where all else has failed. In our office, well over 90% of the patients we accept for care resolve with safe, conservative chiropractic care - without drugs and surgery. We use a protocol that consists of Cox Flexion/Distraction Technique*, specific segmental adjustments, Cold Laser, lumbar belts when appropriate, and specific anti-inflammatory supplements. The adjustments in the office are supported by specific stretches and exercises you do at home to accelerate healing. We will have a very honest conversation about the likelihood of you being helped by our care and to what degree. We pledge to always tell you if you could benefit from something in addition to or instead of care in our office, or if you should see another healthcare expert.
*Note: The Cox Flexion/Distraction Technique is quite different from “Spinal Decompression”. With “Spinal Decompression”, you must adapt to the forces used. In our office, the Cox Flexion/Distraction Technique is performed only by the doctor. The movements are gentle, slow, and specific to the disc in trouble. The doctor’s hands are on you at all times, allowing the doctor to feel exactly what is happening and adapt the pressure and force to your body. The gentle movements of the table, along with the placement of the doctor’s hands, create a negative vacuum effect, which helps suck the protruding disc back into its proper location.