Possible Chiropractic Treatment Approaches for Back Pain
The exact treatment plan depends on your diagnosis. Your chiropractor may use a combination of spinal manipulation, manual techniques, and therapy instruments.
Some possible spinal manipulation treatment approaches are:
Specific spinal manipulation:
Sometimes called spinal adjusting, spinal manipulation is an active, hands-on care that returns motion to the spine. With a return of normal spinal mechanics, muscles relax and pain is resolved. In specific spinal manipulation, the chiropractor identifies the joints that are restricted or show abnormal motion (also called subluxations). He or she then returns motion to the joint with a gentle thrusting technique.
This is a gentle, non-thrusting type of spinal manipulation. This treatment is still hands-on, utilizing a specialized table to assist the chiropractor. It’s especially useful in treating bulging discs and ruptured (herniated) discs.
This utilizes tables with drop mechanisms that enable the doctor to use a hand on thrust that mobilizes the joints when the mechanism hits its resting or normal position. This is highly helpful with pelvic and sacral torsion or a pelvis that is torqued.
This is another non-thrusting technique. Using a hand-held instrument, the chiropractor can apply force without thrusting into the spine. This is especially appropriate in older patients with degenerative joint syndrome.
To treat your back pain, the chiropractor may also use various manual therapies. These are used to treat soft tissue (ligaments and muscles, for example) injuries. Some possible manual therapies are:
Trigger point therapy:
The chiropractor identifies specific hypertonic (tight), painful points on a muscle (these spots or areas are pockets of inflammation). Then he or she puts direct pressure (using the fingers) on these points to relieve the tension and / or break up the inflammation.
Here are some important things to keep in mind as you do these low back stretches:
Manual joint stretching and resistance techniques or post isometric stretching: this technique enables the practitioner to fool our body’s defense mechanisms / stretch receptors. By doing so we are better able to further lengthen tight muscles.
Myofascial release in simple terms is passive shortening and lengthening of the muscle while placing direct pressure over trigger points.
Instrument-assisted soft tissue therapy:
The chiropractor uses instruments to perform repeated strokes over the area(s) of restriction. Research has shown that instrument-assisted soft tissue therapy increases the number of fibroblasts in the area. Fibroblasts are special cells that help heal injuries, including muscle injuries. If there are more fibroblasts, then the strained muscle, for example, can heal faster.
In addition to spinal manipulation and manual techniques, the chiropractor may use various instruments to treat muscle inflammation. These modalities are used to relax the muscles. Some examples are:
By increasing blood circulation, an ultrasound helps reduce muscle spasms, cramping, swelling, stiffness, and pain. It does this by sending sound waves deep into your muscle tissues, creating a gentle heat that enhances circulation and healing.
Interferential electrical stimulation:
This uses a low frequency electrical current to stimulate your muscles and pain fibers.
reinforce the improved joint mechanics (return of normal spinal motion); your chiropractor will prescribe therapeutic exercises.
Prevention and Whole Person Care Chiropractors are “whole person” doctors who view back pain as unique to each patient. Therefore, they don’t focus on just your back pain. Chiropractic care includes nutrition, stress management, and lifestyle goals (because all of those can add to back pain, so you need to address them if you really want to relieve your pain).
Chiropractors emphasize prevention as the key to long-term health—another example of chiropractors looking at the whole person, not just the painful problem. Preventing low back pain is vital to the chiropractic approach to care.
If you have back pain, you have many treatment options to choose from, including alternative treatments. Your doctor may even suggest treatments such as acupuncture, herbs, or massage as part of your treatment plan. These options are called “alternative” because they’re an alternative to “traditional” medicine, which generally means medications, injections, and surgery.
Many patients have reported that alternative treatments and nutrition have helped relieve their back pain. You may want to try:
Acupuncture or Acupressure:
These alternative treatments developed in China. Practitioners believe that you have an energy force called your Chi (it can also be spelled Qi, but both forms are pronounced “chee”). When this force is blocked, you can develop physical illness, such as back pain. Therefore, you need to free up your body’s Chi channels, which practitioners call your meridians. Acupuncture and acupressure work to restore a healthy, energetic flow of Chi. Acupuncture uses very fine needles, and practitioners insert them into precise points in your body’s meridians—exactly where is determined by your symptoms. The needles, which contain no medication, are left in for 20-40 minutes. Research has shown that the presence of the needles causes your body to release certain neurochemicals, such as endorphins, and they help in the healing process. Acupressure works along the same principles as acupuncture, except practitioners use their thumbs, fingers, and elbows to target the specific Chi points.
Before trying any herbal remedies, do your research and talk to your doctor. There may be side effects that you’re unaware of—an herbal remedy could interfere with a prescribed medicine you’re taking, for example. Some herbal remedies you may want to consider for your back pain are:
natural supplements and diets are very helpful for reducing inflammation. For example, bromelain when taken in-between meals is a great proteolytic enzyme to decrease inflammation. Products that we carry in the office include bromelain and several other ingredients known to decrease inflammation. Omega 3, 6 are very helpful for not only improving good cholesterol, but, for decreasing arthritic inflammation in general. A product made by Metagenics known as UltraInflammX, is powerful for acute situations and general whole body inflammation. In addition to foods that are anthocyanoside-rich such as cherries and blueberries. Some individuals have food allergies that contribute to inflammation, identifying these foods and eliminating them is the key to reduce whole body inflammation.
Capsaicin is what makes chili peppers hot, and it can also relieve your pain. It just temporarily reduces your pain, though, so you’ll need to keep re-applying, probably around 4-5 times a day. It may take several weeks for you to feel significant relief from capsaicin cream, so just because it doesn’t work right away, don’t give up.
Devil’s claw comes from southern Africa, where it has been used for centuries to treat fever, arthritis, and gastrointestinal problems. It works as an anti-inflammatory. Today, it’s used for conditions that cause inflammation and pain, like osteoarthritis. You can take it in a capsule.
White Willow Bark:
The white willow led to the development of aspirin in Europe. If you don’t want to take the synthetic version (aspirin can irritate the stomach), use white willow bark. It’s for conditions that cause pain or inflammation, like osteoarthritis. It also provides relief for acute back pain.
A Spine Universe survey in early 2008 showed that back pain patients are very satisfied with massage as a treatment option. It actually had the second highest patient satisfaction rating. Considering that many cases of back pain are caused by muscle strain and overuse, it’s wonderful news that massage is a worthwhile treatment option. A massage can help release muscle tension and relieve muscle inflammation and pain.
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