By: Dr. Thomas C. McGillick
In a chiropractic office lower back pain probably makes up half of the presentations to the Dr.’s office. There are many causes of lower back pain which some of these causes may include poor or no stretching routines, too much sitting and not enough exercise, structural misalignments, posture problems, poor sitting habits, jobs that placed too much stress and strain on the lower back, specific injuries of the lower back, sprains and strains, age that may result in degeneration of the spinal column, as well as associated disc problems. However, it has been my experience that spinal strain and postural fatigue account for many of my office presentations. For example, lifting a heavy object improperly, or falling, may cause immediate back pain. But poor sitting habits and lack of proper stretching protocols does not create an immediate lower back pain. Postural and spinal fatigue can take months (or even years) to develop and unfortunately many people suffering with this type of pain resort to over the counter medications for relief (or stronger meds) without ever considering healthier options. Other reasons may not be so apparent and may take a long time to develop a painful condition such as poor sleeping habits, standing improperly, or improper sitting habits.
A basic management plan in the chiropractic office emphasizes a return to normal function or that particular patient’s maximal normal function. Every patient’s potential is different and must be treated individually. Success for the patient in a chiropractic office depends on many treatment plans, but basically there are four stages to recovery of lower back pain that is usually successful.
The first stage in the chiropractic office is obviously to reduce the patient’s pain. Chiropractors will not prescribe medication to mask pain but will instruct patients in correct direction for utilizing cold packs (ice) or hot packs, whichever is beneficial for their particular condition. Also in the initial stage of treatment chiropractors aid to get an initial proper postural function at an early stage to prevent continued stress on the area of pain. Specific sleeping habits, back supports, therapeutic modalities and specific chiropractic adjustments are very beneficial in the initial phase for the reduction of pain.
Second stage in a chiropractic office revolves around recovery of function stage. The goal is to get the patient to perform basic daily activities without aggravating the patient’s pain. This allows for recovery of normal muscle tone, joint movement and flexibility which can promote and improve flexibility. Chiropractic specific spinal and extremity adjustments, with associated physiotherapy treatments aid in improving spinal function with the addition at this time of home stretching protocols advised.
The third stage is a rehabilitative stage which is a key therapeutic approaches that often includes continued spinal adjustments with expanded exercise programs, postural retraining, with discontinuation of braces and supports. Goals of getting the patient back to their daily activities is optimal.
The final stage of treatment for lower back pain patients is a stabilization stage which includes getting the patients to be able to perform their activities without aggravation felt to their lower back.
In our office the application of stabilizing the spine by including rehabilitation procedures inclusive of spinal pelvic stabilizers, also known as stabilizing orthotics are discussed at this point.
Your feet are the foundation of your body, and if your feet are not properly supported, you can have problems anywhere from ankles on up through your neck. Stabilizing orthotics assist in balancing a person’s foundation to keep the body stable as you stand, walk, or run. It’s like putting a shim under the leg of a wobbly table. The shin stops the entire table from moving. Stabilizing orthotics keep your entire body in balance including your back, hip, even your neck and help stabilize many spinal abnormalities which have resulted in painful responses.
There are many avenues and procedures in all offices for reduction of pain and a return to a normal active lifestyle. Chiropractic approaches specifically involve the patient to achieve the ability to return to an active lifestyle (as much as possible) for each individual patient. A goal of returning to an active lifestyle without the use of continued drugs or medications is one of the initial end goals in a chiropractic office. With the use of specific postural stretches, chiropractic adjustments, associated therapies, along with the utilization of spinal pelvic stabilizers all assist in keeping patients from having to suffer continued bouts of lower back pain and assist in returning patients back to their normal lifestyle.