If your house were on fire, your smoke alarm would warn you that you are in danger. Even though the smoke alarm is loud, disruptive, and annoying, it’s not the problem—the fire is. Imagine what would happen if firefighters only focused on silencing your smoke alarm instead of finding and extinguishing the fire . . .
Back pain, just like a smoke alarm, is a warning sign that something is not right in your body. Every ache, twinge, cramp, and pinch has a cause, and it is important to take that pain seriously—especially when it recurs over and over again. Treating your back pain without diagnosing the source is like turning off the smoke alarm without locating the fire. It will continue to smolder, igniting more pain and problems down the road.
Whether you have lower back pain, middle back pain, or upper back pain, chiropractic is a safe, natural, drug-free way to treat, prevent, and identify the origin of your pain. Read on to discover what may be causing the pain in your back and how chiropractic treatment can help your body heal and improve your quality of life.
Common Causes of Back Pain
Back pain affects people of all ages. In fact, experts believe that at least 80 percent of the population will be affected by back pain at some point in their lives. According to the American Chiropractic Association, back pain is the single leading cause of disability worldwide, preventing many sufferers from engaging in work and other everyday activities. No wonder back pain is the third most common reason for doctor’s office visits.
Your back is a complicated structure of muscles, ligaments, joints, and bones, which makes it very susceptible to injury. Even something as simple as picking up a sock off the ground can cause pain in your back if your back is not functioning properly. From misalignments and muscle sprains to stress and poor posture, here are the most common causes of back pain:
- Herniated Discs (also called Bulged, Slipped, or Ruptured Discs): The bones (vertebrae) in your spine are cushioned by discs. These round, fibrous structures act as shock absorbers for the spine. When a disc becomes herniated, the soft, gel-like tissue in the center of the disc is pushed out of the nucleus and into the spinal canal, pressing on spinal nerves. This displacement causes pain in the affected area which can sometimes radiate to other parts of the body. Herniated discs are most common in the lower back, but they can occur anywhere in the spine. While a serious injury can cause a herniated disc, natural deterioration that happens as we age is the main culprit. Unfortunately, herniated discs rarely completely heal, but regular chiropractic care can prevent further degeneration.
- Strains, Sprains, and Sports Injuries: Very often, muscle strains and ligament sprains are the result of pushing ourselves too much—whether that is forcing a few more reps in the gym, running too far or too fast too soon, or anything else that is too taxing on the body. Overworking the muscles or ligaments in your back can cause small tears in the tissues, which can become tight, swollen, and painful. And if you have ever felt a pang in your back after falling or making a sudden awkward movement, you know that you can strain a muscle or sprain a ligament simply by moving the wrong way—on or off the field.
- Stress: When people are mentally or emotionally stressed, they tend to unconsciously contract their muscles, particularly the muscles in their necks and upper and lower backs. If you are stressed all the time—which many people are—the chronic tension causes your muscles to become sore, weak, and full of trigger points (hyperirritable spots or nodules in a taut band of your skeletal muscle). Poor posture can also put unnecessary and unnatural physical stress on your body, and it is a frequent cause of upper back pain. While deep breathing and physical exercise are two great ways to reduce the physical effects of stress, chiropractic care coupled with therapeutic massage is an effective method for decreasing both physical and psychological stress.
- Auto Accidents and Whiplash: Whiplash is the most common injury to the neck, but it also damages supporting muscles, ligaments, and other connective tissues in the upper back. The resulting pain and stiffness may not appear for two to forty-eight hours after your accident—but if left untreated, can cause chronic pain and other health issues.
- Subluxations (Vertebral Misalignment): Subluxations occur when connective tissue between two vertebrae is partially disconnected, disrupting the normal movement or position of the vertebrae. The result: debilitating pain and inflammation in your back or neck, often accompanied by headaches and limited mobility. Subluxations can happen up and down your back, but they tend to occur in areas where mechanical stress is the greatest, such as the middle of the cervical spine (the seven bones at the top of your spine) where the stress of holding up your head is the greatest, and the middle of the thoracic spine (the twelve bones in the middle of your spine) where stress from the weight of your upper body is the greatest. Thankfully, subluxations are easily treatable, and you will most likely experience significant reduction in pain after your first treatment.
While most back pain is brought on by the above causes—or a combination of them—conditions such as arthritis, obesity, and diseases of the internal organs (bone loss, blood clots, kidney infections, kidney stones) can complicate or even trigger back pain.
Treating Your Back Pain with Chiropractic
Chiropractors are experts at diagnosing, treating, and preventing back pain. In fact, studies show that chiropractic care for back pain—specifically acute lower back pain—is more effective, less expensive, and has better long-term results than any other treatment. That is because, unlike remedies such as muscle relaxers, pain killers, and bed rest, chiropractic is the only method that seeks to realign the spine, restore normal movement in the vertebrae, address the underlying source of pain, and stimulate the body’s self-healing abilities.
During your first visit, your chiropractor will ask you questions about your pain and lifestyle and assess your symptoms. He may even take x-rays. Your chiropractor will then develop a custom treatment plan to help you manage your pain, improving your overall health.
Spinal manipulation is the most common technique chiropractors use to reduce and relieve back pain. While your personal care plan will most likely include this safe, drug-free method, your chiropractor may recommend a combination of the following treatments:
- Spinal Manipulation: Using his hands or special instrument, your chiropractor will apply varying degrees of pressure to parts of your back and other parts of your body to restore movement and realignment in your spine. This will not only provide back pain relief but also help your entire body work properly.
- Massage Therapy: Unlike chiropractic treatment which focuses on the spine, joints, and tendons, therapeutic massage focuses on stimulating muscles and soft tissues in order to relieve pain and promote healing. Benefits include relaxation, increased energy, stress reduction, and mood enhancement. Receiving a massage before your spinal adjustment can help loosen up your body, but getting a massage after your adjustment can promote additional healing and decrease discomfort and inflammation.
- Electric Stimulation: This harmless, non-invasive therapy uses a low-frequency electrical current to stimulate muscles in your back. By promoting muscle contraction, this therapy will help you control pain, manage inflammation, and strengthen your back muscles.
- Therapeutic Exercises & Physical Activity: Depending on your situation, your chiropractor may recommend rehabilitative exercises—or movement—to improve your range of motion and speed up your recovery. Whether you do exercises at home or your chiropractor manually stretches your joints, therapeutic exercise can prevent your back pain from getting worse. Even taking a walk has healing effects.
- Ultrasound Therapy: In this unique treatment, a trained therapist uses a wand to send sound waves into your back muscles, easing soreness and stiffness and promoting deep tissue healing. While most people don’t feel anything during ultrasound therapy, you may feel warmth and mild pulsing from the wand tip.
- Dry Needling: By inserting thin, small needles into your skin and tight muscles, dry needling can loosen tight muscles in your back, relieve your back pain, improve your flexibility, and increase your range of motion. While dry needling is a safe, drug-free treatment, you may experience a little discomfort—but you will feel immediate pain relief after just one treatment.
Whether you are suffering from pain in your upper back, middle back, or lower back—whether you sustained an injury or just twisted the wrong way while carrying groceries—chiropractic will diagnose the root cause of your backache and provide immediate back pain relief. And with routine chiropractic treatment that is specifically catered to you, that relief can last for years to come, prevent future problems, and improve overall wellbeing.
At All Star Chiropractic, our goal is to help our patients recover from back pain, neck pain, lack of mobility, joint issues, range of motion issues, and more—without the use of prescription drugs. We believe in taking a holistic “whole-body” approach to your health. We don’t want to just temporarily fix your pain—we want to determine and treat the root cause so you live an active and pain-free life.
Call one of our locations today to schedule an appointment, or to learn more about how chiropractic care can help you.