Did you ever wake up in the morning with a stiff back or bend over to pick up something and have your back “go out.” You are not the only one. In fact, the only health malady that affects more people than back pain is the common cold. According to the American College of Rheumatology, low back pain disables 5.4 million Americans and costs $90 billion in medical and non-medical expenses per year.
The good news is that this malady is usually what is called mechanical back pain. Mechanical pain means that the cause of the pain is strain to the muscles, tendons, ligaments, discs and joints. It is usually caused by things like not getting enough exercise, too much sitting still, wearing high-heeled shoes too much and sometimes doing too much intense exercise. In about 10 percent of cases, it is caused by systemic causes and therefore it is important to get checked out by a doctor to insure that your pain is, in fact, mechanical in nature.
Most back pain can be diagnosed with just a simple medical history and physical examination. Sometimes the findings in the history and examination may lead the doctor to recommend other tests like x-ray, MRI and in some instances various blood tests but this is somewhat rare.
1. First it is important to understand that back pain does not equate to a need for bed rest. In fact bed rest should be kept to a minimum. Certainly no more than a couple of days.
2. Certain exercises can be helpful when performed on a regular basis and can limit the number and severity of episodes of future pain.
3. Ice applied to the painful area for 15-20 minutes can help with the pain.
4. Manual Therapies like Chiropractic spinal manipulation and massage have been found to be safe and effective in treating episodes of spinal pain.
Choosing to visit a good chiropractor is a good choice because he/she can perform a medical history and physical examination in order to rule out the need for further medical tests and assuming that you are in the 90% with mechanical back pain, you are already in the right place for treatment. If your Chiropractor discovers that you need further testing or a referral to a medical specialist (only 10% of cases), he/she can make that referral for you. Most cases of back pain should resolve with 6-10 treatments from a Chiropractor and generally treatment is received 2 or 3 times per week.
It would seem that almost everyone, at some point in their life, will experience an episode of back pain. The good news is that it most likely has a simple mechanical cause which is easily treated with Chiropractic treatment and exercise.