Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Back Pain

You would think, after all this time, that I'd have talked about back pain a long time ago. But I haven't. Today's the day.

First, if you have back pain you have Care Giver choices. Each one approaches the problem differently. Here's what will happen at each:

  1. Primary Care Physician--Won't care about the cause of the back pain per se, but will be very interested in eliminating the symptoms. You will be prescribed an anti-inflammatory and some pain medication and off you go.
  2. Orthopedic surgeon--Will send you for an MRI if it seems bad. If it is bad (disk extrusion into the spinal chord), will recommend surgery. If it isn't bad, he'll give you anti-inflammatories and pain meds and write a script for Physical Therapy.
  3. Physical Therapy--After testing your range of motion, you'll be put on an exercise program where you come to the facility three to five days a week for three to six weeks. If that doesn't work, you'll be sent to the Orthopedic for more radical treatment.
  4. Massage Therapy--Muscles will be rubbed. If the problem is stress and tension and muscle contracture, a massage every couple of days for two weeks will be recommended.
  5. Acupuncture--Needles will be put in the body in various places to free the energy in the meridian that isn't working associated with the back pain.
  6. Chiropractor--Will evaluate you for the cause of the pain. Depending on the type of Doc, you'll receive traction, exercise, adjustments, manipulation, physiotherapy and exercises to prevent further injury. If you see no resolution, you'll be sent for an MRI and referred to a surgeon--probably a Neurosurgeon.
Types of Back Pain/Neck Pain
Here is where the diagnosis of the actual cause is key. Many things can cause backpain:
  1. Trauma--you lift something and pull something, falls, strain, etc.
  2. Kidney infection
  3. Constipation
  4. Menstrual cramping
  5. Gall bladder inflamation
  6. Myocardial Infarction
  7. Pancreatitis
  8. Ascites
  9. Indigestion
  10. Hepatitis
  11. Cancer
  12. Arthritis
  13. Fractures
  14. Infections
  15. Stenosis
  16. Anneurism
  17. Sciatica
  18. Scoliosis
There's lots more, believe it or not. The cause is important because the treatment relies on the proper diagnosis. Pain killers won't do much to solve your back pain problem if you have a huge abdominal aneurism, for example. Don't laugh. One of my good friends, a Chiropractor, caught this very thing not one month out of college. Scary. What's scary is that he wasn't the first doc to have been visited for the problem.

Let's just say that your problem is musculoskeletal. You know that you pulled something, heard it go "pop" or woke up one day "unable to move" and "crawled to the car". Make your first stop a Chiropractor. This is what they're trained to do. Their specialty is minimally invasive, all natural treatments for back pain.

How to Choose a Chiropractor
  1. Ask your friends who they recommend.
  2. Find a doc who practices Applied Kinesiology, a sub-specialty that requires extra work and education.
  3. Ask your massage therapist--they usually know the good ones.
  4. Don't use the Yellow Pages as your only source, if possible. Your health is worth the extra effort.
  5. If your Primary Care Physician is holistic minded, ask their recommendation. Don't be surprised if they don't have one. Don't be surprised if they are hostile to the idea. Press on, more people go to Alternative Physicians and pay cash, than go to Traditional Docs every year. It might be a question of economics.
Different Treatments
Some DCs treat only physical causes of pain. They will approach the musculoskeletal problems with heat, ice, TENs, ultrasound, electric stim, myfascial release, stretching, trigger point therapy and of course, spinal manipulation called Chiropractic Adjustments. The skill and precision of the doctor is of utmost importance--not because a bad adjustment will cause long-term harm, but because a good adjustment will help you heal faster than you can believe. In the field, docs with "good hands" are sought out by fellow doctors. Their touch can seem almost magical. It's not. It's just good, skilled hands.

Others doctors, like me, do that and more. These docs also treat the pain by looking at the whole person. For example, if someone has chronic indigestion and has back pain as a result, I will adjust the person's back to relieve the symptoms but then also give nutritional recommendations so the person doesn't "reinjure" themselves. Back pain has a huge emotional component. In fact, some doctors believe that back pain is almost entirely emotional (check here, too). When I find the physical causes of the pain exhausted, looking at the emotional physiology is a next step.

Chiropractors, you should be forewarned, meddle more than most traditional medical professionals. They will try to convince you to give up your bad habits. They will encourage you to eat better, exercise, and change your attitude. Chiropractors are generally a happy bunch. We do have a great life--helping people feel better is fun. Wanting to spread the cheer, they might try to get you to turn that frown upside down.

Chiropractors also want more than for you to just get out of pain. They want you to live your best, healthiest life. The Medical profession is only just beginning to look at the positive side of health--Chiropractors have been doing that from the beginning. If you are starting a weight loss program, changing bad health habits and overcoming addictions, consider visiting your Chiropractor. They will be your biggest cheerleader and helpful ally. They will have natural methods to help you achieve your health goals.


Anonymous said...

Most low back pain can be treated without surgery. Treatment involves using over-the-counter pain relievers to reduce discomfort and anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce inflammation. The goal of treatment is to restore proper function and strength to the back, and prevent recurrence of the injury. Medications are often used to treat acute and chronic low back pain. Effective pain relief may involve a combination of prescription drugs and over-the-counter remedies. Although the use of cold and hot compresses has never been scientifically proven to quickly resolve low back injury, compresses may help reduce pain and inflammation and allow greater mobility for some individuals. Bed rest is recommended for only 1–2 days at most. Individuals should resume activities as soon as possible. Exercise may be the most effective way to speed recovery from low back pain and help strengthen back and abdominal muscles. In the most serious cases, when the condition does not respond to other therapies, surgery may relieve pain caused by back problems or serious musculoskeletal injuries.



Anonymous said...

If, like me, you're looking for an effective alternative to chiropractic treatment as a long term remedy for your back problems, then may i suggest a new mattress (or to be more specific – an orthapedic or memory foam mattress)
There are a whole range of specialist mattresses aimed at correcting posture and in turn alleviating back and neck pains. The benefits are long-term and you don't need to regularly visit [and pay!] some heavy handed therapist to relieve the pain! i recently purchased an orthopedic memory foam mattress, and i can report, that after a fortnight sleeping on it, i wake up feeling much better than i did when i slept on my old mattress. One may jump to the conclusion that such specialist mattress prices are high; however, if you look hard enough, you can find cheap orthopedic mattresses out there. If you are dispirited by the expense, just think of the long term benefits for your health, and the lack of future visits to your heavy handed therapist!!

bed boy said...

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JJ said...

Back Pain is a pain in my… well… back!
I was hit by a car a few years ago and since then I have suffered a lot of lower back pain and back ache! I was on strong painkillers for awhile but then I was getting addicted to them so had to drop them before it got too bad. That was about a year ago now and since then I have been looking for alternate ways of relieving the pain and aching until a month ago I was struggling to find anything that helped but I managed to get hold of some Cheap Sleepeezee Beds and I finally got a good nights sleep! It was great!
Upon waking from my beautiful bed the relief only lasted until I got to work then the suffering began once more.
Can anyone give me any advice to ease my pain?