Chronic musculoskeletal pain is one of the most common types of chronic pain. Patients of all ages can suffer from chronic back, neck, knee, or foot pain, but it is more common in people over forty. Frequent migraines or tension headaches are often caused by back and neck problems.
Chronic back or joint pain happens for several reasons. Sometimes it’s the result of an injury that never healed completely. Other times it’s caused by degenerative, age-related conditions like arthritis and flattening spinal discs. Lifestyle factors like stress, bad posture, and activity level can also cause or exacerbate chronic pain. People who smoke, are overweight, or have a history of anxiety or depression are at an increased risk for chronic pain.
Many chronic pain patients are prescribed opioids or muscle relaxants and struggle with addiction and other side effects without experiencing sustained pain relief. Since at least half of all first-time back surgeries fail, many patients are left in need of care even after they’ve gone through this invasive and expensive procedure. Some causes of back pain aren’t treatable with surgery, and it’s not uncommon for patients to be misdiagnosed.
These facts can leave chronic pain patients feeling out of options. Fortunately, there are safe, non-invasive treatments that are proven effective for chronic pain.
Here are four treatments that can alleviate chronic pain and help you get back to your life.
1. Non-surgical Spinal Decompression
This treatment, sometimes referred to as spinal decompression therapy, is especially helpful for patients suffering from conditions that affect the facet joints, spinal discs, and nerve roots. Spinal structures don’t receive robust blood flow. This makes it difficult for them to heal and stay healthy as we age. The discs (tough, fluid-filled cushions between the vertebrae) dehydrate and flatten with age. This causes nerves to be compressed and puts extra strain on facet joints. This condition is called degenerative disc disease, a common cause of chronic back pain in people over fifty.
Spinal decompression therapy uses state-of-the-art, computer-controlled traction to stretch the spine in precise increments. It’s the only type of traction that can achieve a negative pressure between vertebrae. This negative pressure acts like a vacuum sucking misaligned or bulging discs back into place. It also brings in blood flow, oxygen, and nutrients and helps to rehydrate the disc.
This process encourages healing, reduces inflammation, and takes the pressure off nerves. People with flattened discs, herniated or bulging discs, facet syndrome, and spinal stenosis are good candidates for spinal decompression.
After completing a decompression therapy treatment regimen, most patients with chronic conditions experience a significant decrease in symptoms. Studies show that this relief is long-lasting and that patients who had spinal decompression years ago are still in less pain than before treatment. Some patients can even achieve complete pain relief. These long-lasting results happen because spinal decompression treats the underlying causes of pain instead of just masking symptoms.
Most patients find spinal decompression comfortable, and it is safer than most over-the-counter drugs.
2. Cold Laser Therapy
Sometimes soft tissue injuries struggle to heal. This can happen because of a lack of blood flow, immune system problems, or excess scar tissue formation. Cold laser therapy is a painless, safe treatment that encourages natural healing.
There are four steps in the healing process. Sometimes an injury struggles to get out of the first couple of stages and lingers in a state of inflammation and tender, easily re-injured tissue. Cold laser therapy uses red and near-infrared spectrums of light that work at the cellular level to jump-start the healing process. It brings blood flow and nutrients to the area and encourages cells to make collagen– a vital component of new tissues.
Cold laser therapy is helpful for acute and chronic conditions, including:
- Ligament sprains and muscle strains
- Tendinopathies and carpal tunnel syndrome
- Tennis elbow and plantar fasciitis
- Sports injuries and repetitive stress injuries
- Shoulder, back, and knee pain
If you sustained a soft tissue injury more than twelve weeks ago and are still experiencing pain, stiffness, or reduced range of motion, cold laser therapy can help your body complete the healing process.
3. Posture Correction
Does your chronic pain show up in the form of frequent headaches or migraines, neck, shoulder, upper back pain, and stiffness? If so, your pain may be due to injuries caused by bad posture. The spine has several curves, the outward curve of the upper back is called the thoracic curve, and the inward curve of your neck is called the cervical curve. These curves help stabilize the spine and provide extra shock support. When they get thrown out of whack, the misaligned vertebrae pinch nerves and strain the soft tissues around the spine.
Looking down with your head bent forward puts tremendous pressure on your spinal cord and can ruin the natural curve of your neck. For every inch you bend your head forward, an extra 10 pounds of pressure is put on your spine. This can cause the spinal cord (the highway of your nervous system!) to stretch and even pull on the brain stem. Misaligned vertebrae in the neck can also interfere with blood flow. All these physiological changes lead to more headaches and migraines, as well as neck and shoulder pain and tingling or numbness in the hands and arms.
Your chiropractor can evaluate your posture and help you fix it, so you don’t keep damaging your spine. Spinal adjustment and exercises designed to strategically stretch and strengthen certain muscle groups helps repair the damage and keeps it from recurring. You’ll also need to change your habits at home. Simple changes like elevating your computer screen can go a long way toward preventing bad posture.
4. Regenerative Therapy
The healing process requires specialized cells and chemicals brought to the injured area via blood flow. Some tissues in the body receive more blood flow than others and therefore have a better chance of healing quickly and completely. Tough, fibrous tissues like tendons, ligaments, and tissues within joints, such as cartilage, don’t receive much blood flow. This means they don’t have access to as many specialized healing cells and are often slower to heal. This extended or stalled healing process can lead to chronic pain.
Arthritis happens partly because as we age, the fluid within the joints becomes thin and doesn’t protect the cartilage. The key ingredient it’s missing is hyaluronic acid, a substance produced at a higher rate in young bodies. Since cartilage doesn’t get the blood flow it needs to heal, the increased friction causes inflammation and degeneration that become chronic.
Regenerative therapy focuses on providing these tough-to-heal areas with the specialized cells and chemicals (like hyaluronic acid) they need. The process is safe and is proven effective at reducing inflammation, pain, and stiffness. Regenerative therapy produces long-lasting pain relief by encouraging natural healing.
Chronic Pain Treatment in Kentucky
At All Star Chiropractic, our providers help chronic pain patients heal so they can get back to living life. We offer chiropractic care, posture correction, cold laser therapy, and spinal decompression therapy at both of our locations. Our location in Florence also offers regenerative therapy. Schedule a consultation to find out how non-invasive treatments can improve your chronic pain.