Although doctors of chiropractic treat more than just back pain, many patients initially visit a chiropractor looking for relief from this pervasive condition. In fact, about 31 million Americans experience low back pain at any given time.
Interesting Facts about Back Pain
• Worldwide, back pain is the single leading cause of disability, preventing many people from engaging in work as well as other everyday activities.
• Back pain is one of the most common reasons for missed work. One-half of all working Americans admit to having back pain symptoms each year.
• Back pain accounts for more than 264 million lost work days in one year—that’s two work days for every full-time worker in the country.
• Experts estimate that up to 80% of the population will experience back pain at some time in their lives.
• Back pain can affect people of all ages, from adolescents to the elderly.
• Back pain is the third most common reason for visits to the doctor’s office, behind skin disorders and osteoarthritis/joint disorders.
• Most cases of back pain are mechanical or non-organic— meaning they are not caused by serious conditions, such as inflammatory arthritis, infection, fracture or cancer.
• Low back pain costs Americans at least $50 billion in health care costs each year—add in lost wages and decreased productivity and that figure easily rises to more than $100 billion.
What Causes Back Pain?
The back is a complicated structure of bones, joints, ligaments and muscles. You can sprain ligaments, strain muscles, rupture disks, and irritate joints, all of which can lead to back pain. While sports injuries or accidents can cause back pain, sometimes the simplest of movements—for example, picking up a pencil from the floor— can have painful results. In addition, arthritis, poor posture, obesity, and psychological stress can cause or complicate back pain. Back pain can also directly result from disease of the internal organs, such as kidney stones, kidney infections, blood clots or bone loss.
Research Supports Chiropractic Spinal Manipulation
With today’s growing emphasis on quality care, clinical outcomes and cost effectiveness, spinal manipulation is receiving increased attention. The epidemic of prescription opioid overuse and abuse has also led to wider acknowledgment of the benefits of non-drug approaches to pain.
Spinal manipulation is a safe and effective non-drug spine pain treatment. It reduces pain (decreasing the need for medication in many cases), rapidly advances physical therapy, and requires very few passive forms of treatment, such as bed rest.
A growing body of research supports spinal manipulation:
• After an extensive study of all available care for low back problems, the federal Agency for Health Care Policy and Research (now the Agency for Health Care Research and Quality) recommended that low back pain sufferers choose the most conservative care first. It recommended spinal manipulation as the only safe and effective, non-drug form of initial professional treatment for acute low back problems in adults.
• A well-respected review of the evidence in the Annals of Internal Medicine pointed to chiropractic care as one of the major non-drug therapies considered effective for acute and chronic low back pain.
• According to an article in the medical journal Spine, there is strong evidence that spinal manipulation for back pain is just as effective as a combination of medical care and exercise.
• An article in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) suggested chiropractic care as an option for people suffering from low back pain–and noted that surgery is usually not needed and should only be tried if other therapies fail.
• More recently, the results of a clinical trial published in JAMA showed that chiropractic care combined with usual medical care for low back pain provides greater pain relief and a greater reduction in disability than medical care alone.
Tips to Prevent Back Pain
There are several simple strategies that can help to prevent the onset of back pain. Among them:
• Maintain a healthy diet and weight.
• Remain active—under the supervision of your chiropractor.
• Avoid prolonged inactivity or bed rest.
• Warm up or stretch before exercising or physical activities, such as gardening.
• Maintain proper posture.
• Wear comfortable, low-heeled shoes.
• Sleep on a mattress of medium firmness to minimize any curve in your spine.
• When lifting an object, lift with your knees, keep the object close to your body, and do not twist.
• Quit smoking. Smoking impairs blood flow, resulting in oxygen and nutrient deprivation to spinal tissues.
• Work with your chiropractor to ensure that your workstation is ergonomically correct.
Dr. Matt Smith has been a Chiropractor in Saratoga Springs for 35 years. He and his daughter Dr. Kevy Smith Minogue can be reached at 518-587-2064 or at www.MySaratogaChiropractor.com