Low Back Pain

Low back pain is one of the most common pain complaints and reason for loss of work in the United States. It often occurs without any injury or obvious strain, and can come on simply when bending to pick something up, like a piece of paper. It can also be caused by a strain injury, lifting something heavy, or too much repetitive bending, or staying in the same position for too long as when gardening, or from a mild auto accident.

Regardless of the reason low back pain occurs, it can be debilitating, preventing you from standing up straight, walking, or getting around. It can feel like someone stabbed you in the back with a knife.

The usual reason for low back pain is that your body has become tight from the normal things you do every day, and even from the exercise you do or do not do. Sitting is the primary cause of getting tight, the muscles in the low back and back of the thighs and buttocks tighten and shorten, which also weakens them. When you have tight muscles, they are easily injured or strained. This is what happens when someone throws their back out when they bend to pick up something small. The muscles are tight and just don’t stretch with you as you bend, and they pull or strain, and result in painful muscle spasms.

Is leg pain sciatica? Usually it is a spasm in the gluteal muscles of the buttock that causes leg pain. Sciatica is a specific kind of pain, down the leg, that is caused by irritation to one of the major nerve roots at it leaves the spine. Sciatica is discussed in a separate article.

The first thing to do when low back pain occurs, with or without accompanying leg pain, is to consult an expert. The most experienced professionals for low back pain are Chiropractors.

Treatment for low back pain is simple, and pain medications should only be used for a short time during the most excruciating period of pain, if needed at all. If you are using pain medication on a regular basis you are doing damage to your body. Pain is our body’s signal to our brain that something is wrong. Pain medication will heal nothing, and if you continue to allow the pain to continue without proper care, the cause of the pain will in most cases just worsen, causing the need for more and more pain medication and all the while causing more damage to the injured tissues.

Treatment for low back pain at this office involves first the proper diagnosis for the cause of the pain. You should not treat something if you don’t know what it is. There are simple orthopedic and neurological tests done in the office to allow the doctor to make a fairly exact diagnosis of the cause of your pain. In my 20 years of experience, low back pain is usually due to a mild strain or a muscle spasm.

Effective treatment can usually be accomplished in 2 to 3 visits using interferential electrotherapy, moist heat, deep tissue massage, gentle spinal manipulation, and instruction in some relaxing stretches to do at home. Relief is usually rapid and you can return to your normal life rapidly with no restrictions.

However, when we have identified the reason that you developed the pain, you usually need to change something or some habit. The most common things to change involve how you sit at your desk (read the article on Ergonomics) or work, and to add stretching to your normal daily routine, especially if you exercise at all.

Is there evidence based research for Chiropractic Treatment? If you are anything like me, you want some evidence for the treatment you are thinking about getting. The answer is an overwhelming Yes! For most of the 20 years I have been in practice, I have studied the research and followed the best ways to treat low back pain. I offer the following references, all of which infer, if not state that our form of Chiropractic Treatment is the best treatment for low back pain.

Treatment guidelines, which this clinic follows, have been published by various sources including, Whiplash Injuries: the Cervical Acceleration/Deceleration Syndrome by Foreman and Croft, Soft Tissue Pain Syndromes, Clinical Diagnosis and Pathogenesis, by Pongratz, Mense, and Spaeth, Hawworth Medical Press, 2004, and most recently in Occupational Medicine Practice Guidelines, published in 2007 by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. All publications sited recommend spinal manipulation, massage, electrotherapy, acupuncture, and rehabilitative therapy such as yoga as primary treatment modalities. Our treatment protocol, and our clinical practitioners can offer any or all of these treatments, plus many more.

Low back pain usually responds very well and very quickly to treatment. If you have any questions, please call my office for a consultation.

Michael C. Crawford, D.C., D.A.A.P.M.

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