Most of the back pain that we experience comes from the joints, muscles and ligaments of the spine which is comprised of separate mobile bones (vertebra). Due to injury, poor posture or the general stresses and activities of daily life the joints can become injured and overstrained. This causes inflammation, excessive muscle tension, stiffness and pain in the joint . In some cases the pain lasts only for a few days, however many of us experience prolonged periods or episodes of back pain that often return for no apparent reason. This may result in our limiting activities through fear of causing damage to our backs.
Wherever possible chiropractic, unlike painkilling drugs, treats the cause of the back pain, not just the pain itself. Your chiropractor will examine you thoroughly and ask you questions about your medical history and lifestyle to help diagnose the cause of your back pain.
Using specific and skillful adjustments (manipulation), usually done by hand, chiropractic treatment will free stiff joints and relax muscle tension.
Positioned between the vertebra are the cartilagenous discs with a semi fluid centre known as the nucleus pulposis. If the outer rings of the disc become weakened over time or through injury the nucleus can leak, or prolapse, through the outer fibres and push on the nerve compressing it and causing it to become inflamed. This may result in pain radiating into the leg sciatica, weakness of specific muscles, numbness and pins and needles. In most cases chiropractic treatment can be effective in reducing the inflammation, reducing the back pain, leg pain and aiding the recovery of the damaged disc.
Not all leg pain radiating from the back is the result of prolapsed discs. Irritation of the muscles, ligaments and joints can cause pains to be felt in the leg even though the nerve is not affected. This is known as referred pain. Your chiropractor is able to differentiate and effectively treat the cause of your leg pain.
Many people suffering with arthritis (wear and tear) of the spine gain enormous benefit from chiropractic care. Chiropractors are highly skilled in many types of manipulation and mobilization. All treatment is designed specifically for the individual and takes into consideration age and any preexisting conditions. Using specialised manipulation, acupuncture needles, massage techniques and exercises the pain from arthritic joints, the surrounding muscles and soft tissues can often be relieved.
Usually the last thing we want to do when we have back pain is exercise. Whilst we may need to stop vigorous activity for a short time gentle exercise, maintaining our mobility and normal activities is one of the best and quickest ways of overcoming our back pain. Long periods of bed rest have been shown to do more harm than good. Your chiropractor will advise you which exercises are good and which should be avoided during treatment and the various stages of recovery. They may also suggest the use of ice or heat.
A study published by Dr Wilkey showed that chiropractic treatment was very beneficial to people who had been suffering with back pain even though many had complained of pain for years and received different types of treatment. Other studies have also shown the benefit of treatment for those suffering with long-term pain. You will be advised whether your specific condition is likely to respond to care. For those with a problem less likely to respond the chiropractor will discuss other options that are available and most appropriate for you and where necessary a referral will be suggested.