Low Back Pain
"Which is more dangerous: picking up a four hundred pound box or picking up a pencil?"
This rhetorical question seems silly to many of us. It seems obvious that straining to lift the heavier object would pose a risk of injury. But this question is no longer humorous to the millions of individuals who "felt my back go out" when turning over in bed, standing on tiptoes, bending over at the sink, lifting an infant, or leaning over to pick up a pencil. How could these simple everyday activities hurt your back so badly?
Low back pain is rarely caused by one event. Usually there's a long procession of events that cumulatively cause instability in the low back. These minor events can take years or even decades to accumulate to the point at which you feel pain. It might have started with the sporting injuries you suffered as a youth. It might have been the long car trips that slowly wore down your interverbral discs with poor carseat posture and constant vibration. It might have been the months you spent crouched over a textbook in college. It might have been the weeks you were confined to bedrest during your latest pregnancy. It might have been many things.
Whatever the long build-up to the pain might be, all we see is that last final event that tips the scales. As they say, "That's the straw that broke the camel's back."
The good news is that once instability has occurred and pain arises, most people recover from acute low back pain within 4-6 weeks. The bad news is that once the area is unstable, low back pain is likely to occur again and again with increasing frequency. This can be likened to a sprained ankle: even though the ankle heals, the ligaments have been stretched beyond their normal capacity. They will never return to their pre-injurious state, meaning that you're almost guaranteed to sprain that same ankle again.
Low back pain is among the most common of conditions, affecting over 80% of all people during their lives. In fact, low back pain is the most common cause of job-related disability, and the second most common neurological complaint in the United States, after headaches. It's also the second most common reason why people visit their doctor, after colds and flus. And, as stated, it also tends to recur.
A New Way Forward
The Journal of the American Medical Association found that Americans spent nearly $86 billion in 2005 on a variety of low back pain treatments including medications, narcotics, injections, and spinal treatments, yet "the proportion of people with impaired function due to spine problems actually increased." The largest increase in low back expenditures from 1997 to 2005 was for drugs, specifically narcotic pain relievers. Patients are understandably desperate to get pain relief, but the drugs clearly aren't working. Why?
Areas of anatomical instability need more than medications to become well, healthy, and pain-free. Drugs stop the low back pain signals from reaching your brain, but they don't improve the function of your low back muscles, discs, bones, or nerves. Since low back pain usually takes many years to develop, it is particularly stubborn and resistant to self-care, self-medication, and self-treatment.
How We Can Help Your Low Back Pain
Dr. Johnson is proficient in delivering gentle Activator Methods chiropractic adjustments with no twisting or bending that might aggravate your painful low back. The Activator adjustment has been shown to be highly effective for low back pain (both at Johnson Family Chiropractic and in research studies). Even if you've already had back surgery, gentle chiropractic has been shown to relieve back pain.
We offer state-of-the-art spinal decompression therapy, the standard for conservative and non-invasive treatment of disc problems. We also offer other therapies designed to complement the Activator adjustment: ultrasound therapy, electric stimulation of the muscles, and cold laser therapy, exercises to be performed in the comfort of your own home, soft tissue work, and some rehabilitation therapies.
Dr. Johnson will only very rarely encourage the use of back belts for lumbar support when working. Over a decade ago, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) found no evidence that back belts reduce back injury or back pain. Although back belts might encourage you to maintain proper lifting posture, they often give a false sense of security about your body's ability to function, resulting in overly strenuous activities, further injury, and pain. Dr. Johnson will be happy to discuss proper ergonomics and proper lifting posture as they relate to your occupation.
Chiropractic may be the answer you seek for your low back pain. Dr. Johnson's emphasis on the Activator technique also ensures you a gentle and non-aggravating adjustment during your recovery. See Dr. Johnson for a thorough examination and appropriate diagnosis for your low back pain, especially if you're interested in a drug-free approach to improving your body's ability to function and relieving your pain.
- a muscle strain or ligament sprain in the lumbar spine or sacroiliac joints
- sacroiliac joint dysfunction
- nerve root irritation or compression from a herniated disc
- narrowing of the spinal canal by bone overgrowth or degenerative disc disease
- an abnormal curvature such as scoliosis, kyphosis, or hyperlordosis
- a dislocated or fractured floating rib
- aortic aneurysm
- compression fracture of a vertebra
- fracture to the transverse process of a vertebra, usually from some blunt trauma
- kidney stones or urinary tract infections
- failed back surgery causing FBSS (failed back surgery syndrome)
- an inflammatory arthritis such as ankylosing spondylitis
- bacterial infection
- bone diseases such as tumors, Paget's Disease, or multiple myeloma
- women's issues such as pelvic inflammatory disease, menstrual cramping, ectopic pregnancy, or endometriosis
- men's issues such as prostate disease
- metastasizing cancers such as breast cancer, prostate cancer, and lung cancer
- digestive tract issues such as ulcers, pancreatitis, or gallbladder disease
- a sedentary lifestyle
- obesity (although this may not be a direct cause)