The recent, scathing article in the Lancet medical journal, heavily criticises the current conventional approach of medical doctors across the globe, with regards to helping people who come to them with low back pain. We have known for a while that many medications are of limited effect, such as paracetamol and opioids (e.g. morphine, codeine and dihydrocodeine). The article above goes on to criticise other approaches,s saying they are of limited, if any, use for so-called “mechanical low back pain”. Approaches used commonly, from ultrasound to surgery, are of limited use too. Even the use of diagnostic imaging is being called into question, with advice being to take a far more conservative approach.
So, what can you do, and where does chiropractic fit in? Well, firstly chiropractors are trained to evaluate your spinal function and determine if there is a problem that requires urgent medical attention. (Thankfully serious disease manifesting as low back pain is a relatively rare occurence). At Cambridgeshire Family Chiropractic Centre we check your posture, range of motion, nerve, muscle and joint function. All chiropractors should do this before commencing any care. We will always report back to you, letting you know what you can do first, any help we may be able to offer, and the likely time frame within which you can expect to see improvement. Chiropractic care is all about the adjustment, a fast, low force applied to specific points on your spine. Additional care may include muscle release techniques, trigger point therapy and pelvic blocking to realign the spine. These are all techniques that Ed Groenhart, chiropractor at CFCC uses to help patients. There are several things that you can do right away though:
- Keep moving: bed rest isn’t even being recommended by medical doctors for low back pain any more. It is useful only in the most severe of cases, in which case you would most likely be lying in an emergency room waiting for help anyhow. Inactivity is useful for short periods, and lying down takes pressure off the discs in your spine. However, stiffness can take over with inactivity, followed by muscle atrophy, where the phrase “use it or lose it” explains eloquently how this approach actually weakens your muscles, leading to a long road back to normal posture, movement and function.
- Stay well hydrated: water makes up over 70% of your body, and far more of your spinal discs. Treat your body to some water; it’s virtually free, has no side-effects, and helps your over all health too. Every reaction in every cell in your body relies on water. If you are hopeful that your back will heal up that means an awful lot of water is going to be needed to rebuild your back stronger than it was. Don’t worry about too much water, within reason, your kidneys will thank you for the job of filtering it out, along with toxins that may have built up in your body.
- Stay positive: It’s easier to do this if you are doing something about the thing which may be getting you down. Speak to your local chiropractor about how they can help get to the underlying causes. Ask for practical advice from your GP about how to manage the pain in the meantime. It can all help you. It’s important to remember that chiropractors are interested in improving your spinal function, through nerves, muscles and joints, whereas medical doctors are looking mostly at relieving symptoms. Whilst pain can guide you as to what is comfortable when you are sitting or moving, too much can lead to postural changes. Chiropractic and medicine are parallel branches of healthcare, so there will never be a point where your chiropractor will ask you to choose between the two.
Chiropractic helps you to improve your spinal function. Adjusting at points where there is poor spinal movement, alignment or “dysfunction” requires speed and precision. Chiropractors train for many years to achieve this, and even then it takes at least two years of practice before mastering the art of adjusting (Ed has 17!). Studies over the past few years have shown that the adjustment affects neurology as far up as the brain, meaning adjustments may be able to help with muscle strength, balance and coordination. It’s worth discussing your individual needs before deciding whether or not chiropractic is for you, but when you’re ready, please call or email.