Do you have a hard time getting out of your chair because of your right sided low back pain? Can’t bend over to put your socks on in the morning? Do you have a hard time picking up your children or even getting down to the ground to play with them? Can’t play your favourite sport any longer? You’re less productive at work and missing out on important family and physical activities. You want to live pain free and get your energy and strength back. You want your life back. There’s a good chance chiropractic care could be the answer you’re looking for.
Low back pain affects 80 percent of the population at some point in their lives. (1, 2) Low back pain can affect anyone regardless of age, and can have a huge impact on simple activities such as sitting, walking, sleeping, and even bending over to brush your teeth.
I know how extremely frustrating it is to have low back pain. I suffered with acute low back pain when I was fourteen years of age. I couldn’t play competitive hockey for two weeks and could barely bend over to tie my shoes. Like a lot of people, we went to the medical doctor first. I don’t remember if he gave me pills for it, but most people will get either a muscle relaxant or an anti-inflammatory prescription. He even sent me to an orthopedic surgeon. The surgeon was an hour and a half late and had terrible bed side manner. My parents and I received no solutions from him other than to see him in six months to get fitted for a back brace. That’s when my parents decided to take me to their “witch doctor”. Yes, their chiropractor. I still remember that first visit. The feeling of his warm hands running down my spine and locating the exact point where I was experiencing pain. He explained my problem was a pinched nerve due to one of my spinal bones being out of alignment. I remember how awesome it felt to get my spine realigned (adjusted.) There was this huge release of tension in my spine. He had me up and skating again within three visits. It was a miracle for me, and it inspired me to become a chiropractor.
Masking your low back pain with drugs
Although there is a place for medications, long-term use of medications can have dangerous side effects. The most common pain medications taken for low back pain would be drugs like Tylenol (acetaminophen) and anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) like aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen. Tylenol (acetaminophen) is the leading case of acute liver failure in the United States, Canada, Australia, and the UK (3, 4). Taking NSAIDs long term actually slows down proper healing of your injured ligaments and muscles that are contributing to your low back pain. Long-term use also accelerates osteoarthritis and damage to the cartilage in your joints. Furthermore, taking NSAIDs long term also puts you at significant risk to develop cardiovascular problems, GI bleeding, kidney problems, and increased blood pressure. (5, 6)
When you take pain medications, they simply mask your symptoms and don’t treat the underlying cause of your low back pain. I have said this before, your body doesn’t even make Tylenol, aspirin, or Ibuprofen naturally. So how is your low back pain due to a lack of these drugs in your body? It doesn’t make sense to take these drugs in most cases.
Your body doesn’t even make Tylenol, aspirin, or Ibuprofen naturally. So how is your low back pain due to a lack of these drugs in your body?
Find the underlying cause of your low back pain
Finding the underlying cause(s) of your low back pain is the key to giving you long-term relief so you don’t have to rely on dangerous drugs to mask the pain.
The most common causes of low back pain come from the pain-sensitive nerve structures in the low back (lumbar spine and pelvis). The pain-sensitive nerve structures most commonly involved are the muscles, nerves, joints, and discs (shock absorbing cushions between the spinal bones).
Chiropractors are specialists in detecting the underlying causes of low back pain related to the muscles, nerves, joints, and discs. Spinal misalignments and stress and tension in the muscles in the low back are often found in patients who have low back pain. Spinal misalignments cause poor nerve input into the brain and poor nerve output to your body parts. As a result, muscle weakness can also be found in low back patients. This is like having a blown circuit or breaker switch. By realigning the spine (adjustments), chiropractors help restore proper brain and nerve function and turn your power back on. Muscle strength increases and low back pain will often go away.
By realigning the spine (adjustments), chiropractors help restore proper brain and nerve function and turn your power back on. Muscle strength increases and low back pain will often go away.
How effective is chiropractic care for low back pain?
Getting chiropractic adjustments (spinal realignments or spinal manipulative therapy) alone is very effective in getting rid of low back pain. In fact, chiropractic adjustments consistently show superior improvement in pain and function when compared to physical modalities, medication, education, or exercise. (7, 8, 9, 10)
I have been practicing chiropractic since 1995, and I can say with confidence that in the majority of cases (80-90%), chiropractic adjustments work very effectively for relieving low back pain quickly. This is especially true if the chiropractor is thorough and specific in their adjusting technique. Most adults and children will respond favourably within six to twelve visits. From my experience, patients who also get chiropractic adjustments regularly throughout their life can help prevent low back pain from recurring. A spinal check up and adjustment once per week to once every two months can serve this purpose. Of course, the frequency is based on individual circumstances.
Is chiropractic care alone enough to prevent low back pain? In most cases I would say no. The reason is you have to answer the question “What causes spinal misalignments in the first place?”
What causes spinal misalignments in the first place?
As well as chiropractic adjustments work to relieve low back pain, you still have to figure out what’s causing the tension in the spine and misalignments in the first place. Otherwise, the adjustments won’t hold or last as long and your low back pain is more likely to keep recurring. The following are some of the factors or stressors to look for:
- Prolonged mental stress
- Desk work or prolonged sitting
- Being overweight or obese
- Flat feet
- Poor footwear
- Lack of exercise
- Poor diet (pro-inflammatory)
- Food intolerances
- Leaky gut creating inflammation or swelling throughout the body
I’m not going to go into detail about each of these stressors. I will save each of these topics for future articles. These stressors are very important to identify what’s creating the spinal misalignments and tension in the spine. When you identify these deeper causes, you can work towards managing or reducing the stressor all together and the likelihood of recurrent low back pain will be greatly reduced.
You don’t have to put up with low back pain and eat pain killers like they were going out of style. There is a more effective and safe way to deal with your low back pain.
Chiropractors are experts at fixing spinal misalignments and related nerve problems which often results in long lasting low back pain relief.
I encourage you to seek out a chiropractor you’re comfortable with to help you through your healing process. Every chiropractor is unique in regards to persona as well as the their adjusting techniques. Some like to use light force and some prefer to be more aggressive in their approach. They all work. You just have to find one that works well for you. When you do, be prepared to live a life pain free…full of strength, energy, and laser-like focus.