The #1 cause of disability in the United States is low back pain. If you suffer from low back pain, you are not alone. Unfortunately, 80% of people will experience low back pain at some point in their lives. Back pain is extremely common because the way we live is contrary to the natural ways our body is designed to function and adapt. Let’s face it – life is stressful in both big and small ways!
When a person experiences low back pain, it’s definitely a signal that there is a problem. However, pain is typically an indicator of a problem that has been there for some time. While low back pain can be triggered by one event, it usually isn’t that specific incident that is the primary cause of the problem. Low back pain is often the cumulative effect of the unnatural routine and day-to-day life events. A common phrase that sums up this idea is: “The straw that broke the camel’s back.” The final straw is the tipping point, but all the straws add together to cause the problem.
Because low back pain is most often a sign of a problem in your spine, it is essential to get an evaluation with a chiropractor to determine the cause of your back pain. It is necessary to discover the cause of your low back pain to find the most appropriate course of action to alleviate pain and get you back to living your life.
How Our Low Back Pain Treatment Plan Works
1. Be Heard
Quality time with a health professional, so you can be truly heard and understood, isn’t all that common. We understand that. This is why, on your first visit, you will meet with one of our doctors and share your health concerns and struggles so we can understand exactly why you are here and what you want to achieve. The doctor will determine what testing is necessary to find the source of your health concerns and answer the biggest question of all: Can Chiropractic Care Help?
2. Discover How We Can Help You
Every new patient should feel like they are making the right decision for their health. This is why our doctors explain what they are looking for in the testing, so our patients know exactly what is going on, instead of just being a bystander. We will share everything we discover from your testing and exams, including if we can help you. In the unfortunate event that we cannot help, our doctors will provide any additional resources they feel would be appropriate to assist you.
3. Achieve Your Health Goals Together
Whether you just want to be out of pain, or you want to get back to golfing without limitations, or you are desperate to get a restful night’s sleep, we will be with you every step of the way. We’ll achieve your goals
Types of Low Back Pain
Acute back pain means that you experienced a sudden onset of pain within the last few days or weeks. This occurs due to performing a specific movement, atypical stress to the spine, or experiencing an injury. Often, patients who come to Family First Chiropractic with acute low back pain understand the benefits of chiropractic adjustments. They use chiropractic care as their primary option to correct their spinal issues and get back to being pain-free again.
Chronic back pain means that you have been experiencing low back pain for longer than a few months. The pain has not improved since its onset or is getting worse over time. In many cases, patients who come to Family First Chiropractic with chronic low back pain have consulted their medical doctor or other specialists and have tried multiple treatment methods that were not successful. The good news is that once patients at Family First Chiropractic have a complete evaluation, our doctors can determine the cause of their chronic low back pain. Armed with this information, patients can begin a regimen of specific adjustments that will address the cause of their pain.
It is important to understand that the longer you wait to address spinal issues, the longer it can take to correct the cause of those issues and begin to feel better. In cases where spinal misalignments have been present for an extended time, it may not be possible to correct them fully. This is why it is vital to understand that addressing spinal issues early is one of the best ways to keep your body functioning at its highest level.
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What Is the Actual Problem I Could Be Experiencing?
To understand how misalignments in the spine can cause low back pain, it is helpful to know some basic facts about the structure and function of the spine. Your spinal cord is the lifeline to your entire body; it allows your brain to send messages to every organ, tissue, and cell to regulate every function and process in your body. Your brain sends these messages down your spinal cord and out along the nerves exiting between the bones of your spine. Your spinal bones, also called vertebrae, are a suit of armor that protects your spinal cord. Your vertebrae are what keep your body upright and allow you to move in a variety of ways. Each vertebra in your spine has muscles, ligaments, and discs around them to keep everything in alignment, absorb shock to the body, and allow for proper movement.
There are times when the amount of stress that you experience (whether it is physical, mental, emotional, or chemical stress) is greater than what your body can handle, and one or more vertebrae will move out of a healthy position. When vertebrae are misaligned, this is called subluxation. When spinal bones are subluxated, they put extra pressure on the nerves as they exit the spinal column. The extra pressure on your nerves can cause symptoms like low back pain.
How Can Chiropractic Help My Low Back Pain?
At Family First Chiropractic, we focus on detecting and correcting subluxation of the spinal vertebrae. We correct subluxation by adjusting misaligned vertebrae back to a healthy position. When subluxation is corrected, it restores the healthy nerve flow between the brain, the spinal cord, and the rest of the body. With restored nerve flow, your body can heal itself.
The first step to finding out if chiropractic can help is determining if misalignments cause your low back pain in your spine. The only way to know if a subluxation is causing your low back pain is to have an evaluation with a chiropractor. During the initial evaluation at Family First Chiropractic, the doctor will sit down with you and listen to your experience to gather your history. The doctor needs to know all the past events and current stressors that could contribute to your low back pain. During the consultation, the doctor will also utilize a set of examinations to determine if subluxation is present in your spine.
There are several criteria that the doctor will evaluate to determine the location of any vertebral subluxations. The first criterion the doctor utilizes to detect subluxation is palpation. The doctor will feel your spine while you are stationary and moving and bending at various angles. This enables the chiropractor to determine the presence of inflammation and swelling along the joints of the spine and evaluate how easy or difficult it is for each segment in your spine to move. The second criterion utilized by the doctor is visualization. The chiropractor is well-trained to recognize subtle nuances in posture and movement, which can indicate problem areas. After completing the initial examinations, if the doctor feels it is necessary, they will take an x-ray of your spine. X-rays enable the doctor to get a complete picture of the structure of your spine. If needed, the doctor can also perform additional testing to determine if your pain is coming from your joints, muscles, or spinal discs. When analyzed together, these examinations will help the doctor detect any subluxations and determine a plan for correction.
Subluxation is the word chiropractors use when a bone is out of alignment anywhere within your spine. This can be caused by slips and falls, car accidents, sports injuries, or even poor posture at a desk or on the couch every day. A chiropractor’s job is to detect and correct subluxations, promoting healing and restoring function within your body. In short, uncorrected subluxation can cause all low back issues, including bulging discs, herniated discs, degenerative disc disease, and spinal stenosis.
Chiropractors do not treat herniated discs, bulging discs, or other symptoms related to spinal conditions which result in low back pain. Chiropractic adjustments improve spinal motion and alignment, reducing central nervous system interference and allowing the body to heal itself. Chiropractic adjustments are a proactive first resort for those suffering from back pain, sciatica, or disc-related issues.
What are Bulging and Herniated Lumber Discs?
To understand what a vertebral disc looks like, imagine two dinner plates stacked with a water balloon in between them. The plates represent the bones, and the water balloon represents the disc.
A bulged disc occurs because one or both vertebrae have moved out of a healthy position and are compressing it. The disc extends, or bulges, beyond the edges of the vertebrae; this can interfere with your nerves when the bulging disc comes into contact with the nerves as they exit from your spinal cord. If left untreated, a bulging disc can become a herniated disc. When a disc herniates, it is because injuries, degeneration, continuous wear and tear from misalignment, or a combination of all these factors cause a small tear in the disc. The tear forces the gel-like substance inside the disc to leak out of the disc into the spinal canal. Once in the spinal canal, the gel-like substance can irritate or compress the nerves.
Both bulging and herniated discs in your lumbar spine can be the cause of lower back pain. They may also cause leg pain as an additional or alternate symptom because the nerves in the low back also supply the lower extremities. In a research study performed on a group of adults suffering from lower back pain and moderate to severe leg pain, MRI testing confirmed disc herniation. Patients in the study that received chiropractic adjustments achieved excellent results; following six months of chiropractic adjustments, 90% of participants reported considerable relief from their lower back and leg pain.
What is Degenerative Disc Disease?
When it comes to maintaining healthy joints, movement is the most critical factor. Spinal joint degeneration decreases the ability of a joint to move without restriction. A large percentage of the population suffers from joint degeneration left untreated for so long that there is no possibility of complete recovery.
Degenerative disc disease originates from several causes, with hypo-mobility being the most common cause. Hypo-mobility is when a joint is restricted from its full and healthy range of motion. Decreased mobility begins when a joint loses healthy alignment due to one or more outside stressors; many causes of misalignment start with bad postural habits, but some come from physical trauma or injury. Range of motion must be restored to the affected joint within an appropriate timeframe, typically within two weeks, or the joint will begin experiencing degeneration. Chiropractic adjustments help restore mobility and stability to the spine to increase healing and prevent further degeneration from occurring.
Preventing spinal degeneration in the nervous system is like the proactive approach people use to prevent obesity, high cholesterol, or tooth decay. The first phases of spinal degeneration typically do not occur with pain, just like the first stages of a cavity go largely unnoticed because of the absence of symptoms. Being proactive with regular chiropractic checkups can help catch degeneration before there are symptoms of pain or dysfunction, just like regular dental checkups will locate cavities that are just beginning to form. Some health professionals estimate that approximately 40% of 20-year-old men and women already experience some stage of joint degeneration without any knowledge of their progressively advancing condition.
Spinal stenosis is the narrowing of the spinal canal, which puts pressure on nerves as they exit through the spaces between the vertebrae and decreases the flow of messages moving through the affected nerves. Spinal stenosis is a condition that develops over time. When a bone is out of alignment, it causes wear and tear on the joint; if left untreated, this reduces the space between the bones where the nerves exit, putting pressure on those nerves and can cause low back pain and dysfunction.
When spinal stenosis happens in the lumbar region of the spine, you can experience pain in your lower back, groin, buttocks, and hips. You may even suffer from weakness in your legs and feet. Spinal research continues to show that not only do these nerves send you pain signals, but they are also responsible for autonomic nervous system function. Your organs, tissues, and glands depend on this nerve flow to function optimally. When there is a disruption to the health of the nervous system, like a bone out of place that has caused spinal stenosis over time, you can experience low back pain, as well as other problems like digestive disorders, hormone imbalance, infertility, fatigue, and more.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can a Chiropractor in Omaha help with low back pain?
Chiropractic accomplishes so much more than simply providing an alternative to using drugs or surgery to manage back pain. Chiropractors assess spinal alignment and motion of the spine while looking for problem areas that interfere with the delicate nervous system. Specific chiropractic adjustments can restore proper movement and function to the spine and nervous system and allow your body to heal itself. Our office uses the Gonstead Technique, which you can learn more about here.
When should I see a Chiropractor for low back pain?
Chiropractic adjustments can be used to address both new injuries and chronic back pain. Most problems in the spine occur without initial pain or symptoms and are left untreated until symptoms are present later. Like dental cavities, subluxations worsen over time if left untreated. Chiropractic care is a great way to prevent injuries and address problems before pain and symptoms start to interfere with your daily life.
What is better for low back pain: a chiropractor or massage?
If the cause of the pain is a muscle injury, massage may be the answer. If the cause of your low back pain is a disc or joint problem, muscles will tighten up to protect the weakened area. In this case, massage alone may not resolve your low back pain. Chiropractic adjustments would be needed to resolve the issue there.
How long should I expect to have my low back pain?
The timeline for healing depends on several factors. If a strained or pulled muscle causes your back pain, it will likely take four to six weeks to heal. For a disc injury, there must be a six-week period of non-weight bearing to begin healing, but complete recovery can take up to a year to fully heal and regain full range of movement. A ligament injury can take anywhere from three to 12 months to heal. If symptoms of pain, lack of motion, and setbacks after the onset of low back pain persist longer than a few weeks, that may suggest that a spinal subluxation involving a disc may be the cause of your low back pain.