Do or Die Time: Chiropractic Treatment for Back Pain

By Martha Michael

Back Pain and You

Daily activities take a toll on the body, including tearing down a healthy spine. The restricted movement of joints along the spine, commonly called misalignment, inevitably leads to stiffness and eventually pain in the back. Aside from more complicated physical issues or diseases, ordinary back pain is a common experience; nearly 80 percent of individuals experience it at some point in their lives, but downplaying its importance is a mistake, says an article in Women’s Health.

Accompanying Symptoms

Just because back pain is fairly common doesn’t mean you should ignore it; pretending you’re fine and blowing off a trip to the chiropractor may eventually result in permanent damage.

When these other symptoms accompany back pain, you should seek treatment.

Radiating Pain

If you’re experiencing painful waves that emanate from your back, down your legs to the foot, you may have nerve root irritation. It sometimes goes away, but can lead to muscle weakness, numbness and tingling. A chiropractor can treat the symptoms through non-invasive measures such as spinal adjustments, as well as making recommendations for core-strengthening exercises and stretching techniques.

Leg Weakness

If you’re limping while also suffering from back pain, you could be developing nerve damage, and it can become permanent, leaving you with an unusual gait. The Weill Cornell Medicine website suggests the possibility of a herniated disc, which irritates nerves that cause the numbness and weakness in your arms and legs.

Bladder or Bowel Problems

When your back pain accompanies incontinence or numbness in your groin, seek help within the first 48 hours. If the symptoms are acute, it may be a condition known as cauda equina syndrome (CES), and you have a much better chance at a full recovery with immediate treatment. The condition applies pressure to the nerves in your spinal cord that connect to your pelvic organs, which is where you experience symptoms.

Imbalance

If you are teetering, or find that the way you walk is changing, seek the advice of a chiropractor. Left untreated, a lack of balance can subsequently lead to an increased chance of falling.

Fever and Chills

When our bodies are fighting infection or even cancers, it’s not uncommon to experience such symptoms as night sweats, chills or fever. Most back pain is not a sign of something as serious as a tumor, but when your body reacts so dramatically, you want to pay attention. "Those are signs that your whole body is going through a reaction to something [else], so that’s something you’d want to go in and see a (healthcare) provider for,” says Charla Fischer, MD, of New York University’s Langone’s Spine Center.

Chiropractic Treatment

Though general information regarding clusters of symptoms can be helpful, back pain caused by injury, spinal degeneration or other conditions needs professional assessment to develop successful strategies of treatment. One of the advantages of chiropractic care is the attention given to the cause of symptoms rather than masking pain through the use of medications. Numbing pain can seem like a quick fix, but correcting problems as quickly as possible may be necessary to avoid permanent damage. Also, alleviating pain without treating the cause can further an injury when a patient feels better and places undue stress on the back.

The American Chiropractic Association points out studies showing that non-invasive treatment is economically advantageous. Research shows that spinal manipulation for back pain and neck injuries is less costly than pharmaceutical treatment. And a study in Washington showed that 42.7 percent of patients who suffered from a work-related back injury ended up in surgery if they consulted a surgeon first, but only 1.5 percent of individuals under the same condition ended up in surgery when they saw a chiropractor first. You may want to think about that statistic for a moment.

While back pain may be a common experience, treatment options are not always the same. And chiropractic care is uncommonly good when it comes to effectiveness.

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