Chiropractic Care for Back Pain
About 85% of the population will experience disabling lower back pain at least once in their lives. The estimated cost of this problem is over $50 billion per year. Low back pain often comes on suddenly and for no apparent reason. The lumbar spine takes an enormous amount of stress in that it connects the upper half of your body to the lower half and is involved in twisting and bending motions between the two. The normal curve in the small of your lower back, called the lumbar lordosis, allows for structural stability. The common cultural activities of forward bending and long hours of sitting put adverse stress to this curve. Postural stresses and/or trauma commonly lead to a mechanical disturbance called subluxation (a spinal bone which loses its normal position and motion leading to nerve irritation). The subluxation leads to stiffness, inflammation, and muscle tension/spasm and nerve irritation. Many times a subluxation is incorrectly diagnosed as a sprain or strain because of the muscular pain associated with it. Muscle spasms in the spine are typically a protective mechanism protecting the more vital underlying problem. Long-term subluxation is typified by intermittent painful episodes, and can lead to disc herniations and degenerative arthritis because of progressive wear and tear from abnormal spinal mechanics. Unfortunately, low back pain is commonly addressed from a symptomatic approach (muscle relaxers, pain killers, massage, traction, ultrasound, corticosteroid injections, etc.) rather than addressing the cause by correcting the biomechanical disturbance and making lifestyle modifications.
Even antagonists of chiropractic agree that chiropractic is the choice for low back pain. In 1994, after reviewing a wealth of large-scale studies, the federal government made a definitive pronouncement that chiropractic is one of the preferred and most effective treatments for acute adult low back pain. Controlled, scientific studies conducted by medical physicians comparing chiropractic with medical care, physical therapy, and non-surgical therapy for the back show that doctors of chiropractic relieve chronic and severe pain, both immediate and long term, in one half the time it takes medical physicians. Chiropractic aims to address the cause of low back pain rather than just suppress symptoms.
The thoracic spine is the 12 vertebrae, which correspond to the chest area. The thoracic spine is different in form and function than the lumbar and cervical portions of the spine. While the neck and lower back are designed to provide us with mobility, the middle back is designed to be very strong and stable to allow us to stand upright and protect vital internal organs as well as the nerves which supply those organs. From each thoracic vertebra extends a pair of ribs, which wrap around to the anterior of the chest cavity. Most episodes of mid-back pain are a result of injury, overuse, misuse, abnormal spinal alignment, or degeneration (hunchback). When the spinal bones become misaligned or movement is restricted the result is a common condition called vertebral subluxation. Ribs can also become subluxated or misaligned where they attach to the thoracic vertebrae. This often results in “trigger points” of pain causing the muscles of the mid-back to tighten and knot. The sharp, jabbing nature of the pain can refer to the front side of the rib cage and mimic heartburn or even heart attack.
With a chiropractic adjustment your doctor specifically moves misaligned or restricted spinal joints, which helps relax the connecting muscles and improves mobility. Adjustments help to maintain the integrity of the joint cartilage, improve the metabolism of the intervertebral disk, and prevent premature degenerative changes. In addition, the nerve supply to many of the body’s organs (stomach, liver, intestines, gall bladder, etc.) branch from the thoracic spine, and irritation to these nerves can lead to malfunction in the body. The chiropractic adjustment aims to rid the body of such nerve irritation allowing for a better functioning, healthy body.