Lower back pain is by far the most common form of back pain and one of the main reasons patients visit a chiropractor. Lower back pain causes are many and varied. Whilst herniated discs are a well known source of lower back pain, they are in fact far less common than other posture and work related causes.
How do chiropractors treat lower back pain ?
After taking a thorough history to exclude conditions that may need other forms of treatment, the chiropractor may use a combination of the following:
-chiropractic massage to relax the muscles
-chiropractic adjustments (chiropractic manipulation) to correct joint misalignments (subluxations), and
-postural advice for both home and workplace
Please note that specific exercises for lower back pain may or may not be offered, depending upon your individual case. Chiropractors recognise that good posture ie correct use of postural muscles, is the most important type of exercise for any part of the spine. The lower back does not necessarily need any extra 'core strength' training or separate abdominal muscle exercises to work at optimum levels. This is because abdominal muscles work correctly once postural issues have been addressed by your chiropractor. Good posture is the most important form of strengthening exercise. Additional exercises designed to mobilise the spine may be provided in some cases. Every patient is different.
What should be expected after the first treatment ?
In many instances immediate relief occurs after the first adjustment. This is because the body responds to corrections to joint subluxations. You may notice less of the original pain and/or a greater range of movement in the affected area.
Sometimes massage (especially if you're not used to it ) may cause a type of mild muscle soreness. This is the same soreness you experience when you have done a lot of exercise. It responds well to hot showers and rest and disappears after a couple of days.
Many patients report improved sleep after pain and muscle spasm are lessened after treatment.
Follow-up treatments: why are they necessary ?
Joint subluxations cause irritation of local nerves. This can lead to muscle spasm or tension. Your first adjustment may not be able to remove all of the existing muscle spasm, especially if you've had the problem for a while and the body has become used to it. This residual spasm, if left for too long, may again restrict joint movement. If the cycle is broken into with follow-up chiropractic treatment then the original condition can be more readily controlled.
Follow-up treatments are gradually spaced over greater periods. For example, if you have no pain or symptoms for a week then you may be asked to leave your next treatment for a few weeks.
What about check-ups ? Are they necessary in the absence of pain ?
Joint subluxations usually build up gradually: they may be due to your posture or work habits. Muscle spasm slowly builds up until the point where you are consciously aware of the problem either through tension or pain.
The parts of the body can be compared to a machine. They need to be adequately maintained. If the wheels on your car are regularly checked for misalignment then you will avoid the dangerous and expensive results of uneven wearing of your tyres. Similarly, if you receive treatment in the form of a scheduled check-up and your chiropractor has the opportunity to correct a slight subluxation then you may be able to prevent further pain and dysfunction.
Many patients report that after a regular check-up their joints feel 'free' or 'looser' or they just feel less tense in general, even if there was no pain to speak of at the time of the appointment. This is because a change has taken place and the body is functioning better.
The joints and muscles of the body are in constant use. Regular check-ups are important. As your body responds to treatment successfully the check-ups can, as previously mentioned, be spaced further apart.
Dr. Sharon Wardle Chiropractor is located at Fitness First, Loft level 4, Macquarie Shopping Centre and is convenient for the following suburbs: Macquarie Park, North Ryde, Marsfield, Denistone, Denistone East, Eastwood, West Ryde, Meadowbank, Epping, Gladesville, Putney. Non gym members are welcome.