My summary of the various methods available for the treatment of low back pain include medication, surgery, massage, physical therapy, acupuncture, feldenkrais, osteopathy and chiropractic as well as other self treatment programs such as Yoga and exercise programs. I have spoken with people who have had success in every one of those treatment methods.
First, if it is at all possible I would suggest utilising treatments that have a primary objective to identify and correct the cause of the problem rather than simply cover up the symptoms. It’s also important to first try methods with the lowest risk. If these don’t work then consider the other options more closely. I’d like to suggest you read more about this topic on my website under the heading “Quick Fix or Optimal Health”. Please be aware that there are some low back conditions such as Cauda Equina Syndrome for which you may need urgent medical intervention so that you don’t end up with permanent bowel or urinary dysfunction. Therefore, if you suspect that your condition is that serious it’s a good idea to get a medical evaluation. However, it is also useful for you to know that chiropractors are well trained in the science and art of diagnosis when it comes to musculoskeletal conditions such as low back pain, headaches, neck pain and shoulder pain as well as arm and leg pain. In fact, that’s one of the reasons why, in order for me to receive my Doctor of Chiropractic in the USA I was required to do over 5000 hours of face-to-face class time not including thousands of hours of home study.
If at first you don’t succeed, keep trying.
I admire people who are so determined to get well that they are prepared to try several practitioners even within the same profession if they are not helped at first. For example, in 2009 I had the case of Wayne* who had received an MRI that resulted in a diagnosis of three disc bulges pushing on the nerves in his lower back and causing severe lower back pain and sciatica. Over a period of three years he had consulted with several therapists and medical specialists, one of which had told him that he was a candidate for surgery. On his first visit to my office he parked his car in the disabled spot right outside the front door of my building and told me it took him seven minutes using his cane to reach my waiting room. He was grateful for feeling a little better after the first treatment. However, it was not until the next day after a similar arduous experience getting into my office that he felt so much improvement that he got all the way out to his car before realizing that he had left his cane in the treatment room! His condition continued to improve over the next two months after which time he saw me less and less frequently. The last time I saw him was six months ago (as of the time of writing this) and he had not had any pain at all for nearly 3 months.
I wish I could say everyone will get the same results as Wayne from what I do. I cannot say that. However, I can say that Dr. Judy and I are able to help the vast majority of serious low back pain cases we see. Our goal is to not only reduce or eliminate the pain but also to increase strength and flexibility.
I hope it is also comforting for you to know that we achieve our results by using a very low force treatment method which therefore has a low risk of causing further injury. In fact, our procedure of gently touching various locations in the back is so gentle and has such a calming effect on the muscles and spine that many of our patients tell us how pleasant they find the experience and how they look forward to it.
In my next article titled “Low Back Pain: The Differences between Treating Providers”
I examine the issue of choosing your treating provider. My goal is to give you some useful things to think about while making this important decision.
Jason Barritt, B.Sc. (Hons), D.C.
*Name changed for privacy but details accurately reflect a real patient.