Although chiropractors care for more than just back pain, many patients visit chiropractors looking for relief from this pervasive condition. In fact, 31 million Americans experience low-back pain at any given time.
Did you know:
- One-half of all working Americans admit to having back pain symptoms each year.
- Back pain is one of the most common reasons for missed work. In fact, back pain is the second most common reason for visits to the doctor’s office, outnumbered only by upper-respiratory infections.
- Most cases of back pain are mechanical or non-organic—meaning they are not caused by serious conditions, such as inflammatory arthritis, infection, fracture or cancer.
- Americans spend at least $50 billion each year on back pain—and that’s just for the more easily identified costs.
- Experts estimate that as many as 80% of the population will experience a back problem at some time in our lives.
Typical Causes Of Back Pain
The back is a complicated structure of bones, joints, ligaments and muscles. You can sprain ligaments, strain muscles, rupture disks, and irritate joints, all of which can lead to back pain. While sports injuries or accidents can cause back pain, sometimes the simplest of movements—for example, picking up a pencil from the floor— can have painful results. In addition, arthritis, poor posture, obesity, and psychological stress can cause or complicate back pain. Back pain can also directly result from disease of the internal organs, such as kidney stones, kidney infections, blood clots, or bone loss.
Chiropractic Care For Back Pain
During your visit, your doctor of chiropractic will perform exams to locate the source of your pain and will ask you questions about your current symptoms and remedies you may have already tried. For example:
- When did the pain start?
- What have you done for your back pain?
- Does the pain radiate or travel to other parts of your body?
- Does anything reduce the pain or make it worse?
Your doctor of chiropractic will also do physical and neurological exams. In the physical exam, your doctor will observe your posture, range of motion, and physical condition, noting movement that causes pain. Your doctor will feel your spine, note its curvature and alignment, and feel for muscle spasm. During the neurological exam, your doctor will test your reflexes, muscle strength, other nerve changes, and pain spread.
In some instances, your chiropractor might order tests to help diagnose your condition. An x-ray can show narrowed disc space, fractures, bone spurs, or arthritis. A computerized axial tomography scan (a CT or CAT scan) or a magnetic resonance imaging test (an MRI) can show bulging discs and herniations. If nerve damage is suspected, your doctor may order a special test called electromyography (an EMG) to measure how quickly your nerves respond.
Chiropractors are conservative care doctors; their scope of practice does not include the use of drugs or surgery. If your chiropractor diagnoses a condition outside of this conservative scope, such as a fracture or an indication of an organic disease, he or she will refer you to the appropriate medical physician or specialist. He or she may also ask for permission to inform your family physician of the care you are receiving to ensure that your chiropractic care and medical care are properly coordinated.
Manipulation as a Treatment for Back Problems
Used primarily by Doctors of Chiropractic (DCs) for the last century, manipulation has been largely ignored by most others in the health care community until recently. Now, with today's growing emphasis on treatment and cost effectiveness, manipulation is receiving more widespread attention.
Chiropractic spinal manipulation is a safe and effective spine pain treatment. It reduces pain, decreases medication, rapidly advances physical therapy, and requires very few passive forms of treatment, such as bed rest.
In fact, after an extensive study of all currently available care for low back problems, the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research—a federal government research organization—recommended that low back pain sufferers choose the most conservative care first. And it recommended spinal manipulation as the only safe and effective, drugless form of initial professional treatment for acute low back problems in adults.
Research Supporting Back Care Through Chiropractic
Rand Study on Low Back Pain
A four-phase study conducted in the early 1990s by RAND, one of America’s most prestigious centers for research in public policy, science and technology, explored many indications of low-back pain.
In the RAND studies, an expert panel of researchers, including medical doctors and doctors of chiropractic, found that:
Chiropractors deliver a substantial amount of health care to the U.S. population.
Spinal manipulation is of benefit to some patients with acute low-back pain.
The RAND reports marked the first time that representatives of the medical community went on record stating that spinal manipulation is an appropriate treatment for certain low-back pain conditions
The Manga Report
The Manga Report overwhelmingly supported the efficacy, safety, scientific validity, and cost-effectiveness of chiropractic for low-back pain.
A major study to assess the most appropriate use of available health care resources was lower back pain and discomfort reported in 1993. This was an outcomes study funded by the Ontario Ministry of Health and conducted in hopes of sharing information about ways to reduce the incidence of work-related injuries and to address cost-effective ways to rehabilitate disabled and injured workers. The study was conducted by three health economists led by University of Ottawa Professor Pran Manga, Ph.D. The 216-page report of the study is commonly called the Manga Report. The Manga Report overwhelmingly supported the efficacy, safety, scientific validity, and cost-effectiveness of chiropractic for low-back pain. Additionally, it found that higher patient satisfaction levels were associated with chiropractic care than with medical treatment alternatives.
“Evidence from Canada and other countries suggests potential savings of hundreds of millions annually”
– The Manga Report
The literature clearly and consistently shows that the major savings from chiropractic management come from fewer and lower costs of auxiliary services, fewer hospitalizations, and a highly significant reduction in chronic problems, as well as in levels and duration of disability.
The #1 treatment for lower back pain
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