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Back Pain

Chiropractic and Back Pain Treatment


People visit the chiropractic office for a wide array of reasons, from asthma to injury.  Perhaps one of the most common, or at least well known, reasons for those chiropractic visits is back pain.  And studies show it works: In a survey conducted by Consumer Reports, a whopping sixty-five percent of all people receiving chiropractic care for back pain claimed they experienced “a lot” of relief from their treatment.  If you are considering a visit to the chiropractor for your own discomfort, here is a guide to how a chiropractor can help your back pain:


bigstock_Back_Pain_Concept_14697167Preparing for the treatment plan.  Before a chiropractor will work on your back, a lot of care must go into understanding the cause of your back pain, the current condition of your overall health, and the best way to treat your discomfort.  To create a treatment plan suited especially to your specific needs, you will first have to provide the chiropractor with a detailed medical history, and then you will have to submit to a comprehensive health examination.  If need be, the chiropractor may even refer you for further lab tests or X-Rays before treating you.


Goals of the treatment plan.  Of course, the immediate goal is to relieve your back pain.  However, chiropractors are also concerned with maintaining the positive benefits of your chiropractic care long after you experience pain relief.  Specific goals are to keep the pain at bay for good, and as well to prevent any further injury that can cause even more, or different types of, pain.


What does the treatment plan involve?  The severity and nature of your back pain will determine how frequently you may visit the chiropractor.  Once you have established a good base line, you will go into the chiropractor’s office on a regular basis for spinal manipulation.  During the vertebral alignment process, the chiropractor will adjust your spine using a variety of manual methods.  Many chiropractors also offer deep tissue massage and acupuncture as therapeutic solutions for back pain.  Additionally, chiropractors often use a well-rounded approach to treating your condition, including nutritional counseling and guidance for exercises/activities you may do on your own to help ease the pain.


How does chiropractic care work?  When a chiropractor manipulates the spine to achieve vertebral alignment, it frees up space between the discs in the vertebrae, which may be cramped due to bulging/herniated discs and/or the swelling in the surrounding tissue.  When the discs are properly spaced, tension and pressure between them is often reduced, allowing nerves to communicate more effectively with the rest of the nervous system (and to stop sending those pain signals!).


If you have back pain, you owe it to yourself to explore the possibility of seeking treatment from a chiropractor.  Consider these points when determining how chiropractic care may be of help to you.


Back Pain: Should I See a Chiropractor or an MD

The Difference in Effectiveness of Medical vs. Chiropractic In The Treatment of Acute and Chronic Back Pain

bigstock_Back_Pain_Concept_14697167 Have you ever contemplated who is the most effective suited to treat back pain? Since there are so many treatment solutions available today, it is very challenging to make this determination without a little advice.

To assist in, a study assessing this very question compared the effectiveness between medical and chiropractic treatments. Over a 4-year period, 2780 patients were assessed with questionnaires. Low Back Pain patients were treated using traditional approaches by both MDs (Medical Doctors) and DCs (Doctors of Chiropractic).

Chiropractic treatments included spinal manipulation, physical therapy, an exercise program, and self-care education. Medical therapies included prescription drugs, an exercise program, self-care advice and about 25 % of the patients received physical therapy.

The study concentrated on present pain degree and functional disability (activity interference) measured by questionnaires mailed to the patients. It was disclosed that chiropractic was favored over medical treatment in the following areas:.

  • Pain relief in the first 12 months (more evident in the chronic patients).
  • When low back pain radiated below the knee (more evident in the chronic patients).
  •  Long term LBP patients with no leg pain (during the first 3 months).

Very similar trends leaning toward chiropractic were seen for impairment but were of smaller significance. All patient groups saw significant progress in both pain and disability over the four year study period.

Acute patients saw the best degree of improvement with numerous having symptom alleviation after 12 weeks of care.

This study also found earlier intervention reduced chronic pain and, at year 3, those acute LBP sufferers who received early intervention declared fewer days of LBP than those who waited longer for treatment.

While both MDs and DCs treatment approaches helped, it’s quite clear from the information reported that chiropractic should be utilized.

These results sustain the value of early intervention by chiropractic physicians and make most sense for those of you debating the question of who to see for your low back pain.

Mild Pressure Reduces Nerve Output by 50%!

“Feeling the Pressure?”

bigstock_Burning_Red_Pain_199804710 mm/Hg (millimeters of mercury) is a measurement of pressure. It isn’t very much pressure at all. If a blood pressure cuff were inflated to that level, you would barely notice it. It certainly wouldn’t interfere with the function of the nerves in your arm. Yet, this same level of pressure can be significant elsewhere in the body.

More than 25 years ago, a researcher from the University of Colorado presented data on the effects of pressure on nerve fibers.1,2 It turns out that it only takes 10 mm/Hg of pressure to cause significant interference to the function of nerve fibers at the point of exit from the spine, decreasing nerve output by 50%!. This finding reinforces what doctors of chiropractic have noted clinically for decades: Relatively minor misalignments or restrictions in the spine (subluxations), which only generate minor pressures, can cause significant nerve interference.

Ordinary methods of measuring spinal range of motion, analyzing X-rays, and even reading MRIs often fail to detect subluxations. The specialized skills required to locate and correct these subtle disturbances is the central focus of chiropractic education and practice. This specialized training probably accounts for the fact that of all spinal manipulation performed in the United States, 94 percent is in the form of specific adjustments administered by doctors of chiropractic.3

Recent research supports the importance of chiropractic’s unique targeted approach to subluxation. Relief from neck pain and back pain has been shown to be significantly better under chiropractic care than under physical therapy.4,5 An economist at the University of Ottawa has concluded that medication and physical therapy are much less cost-effective than chiropractic care in resolving the pain and loss of overall health in patients with low back complaints.6 These findings argue strongly for inclusion of doctors of chiropractic along with the other valuable members of your health care team.

It is hoped that this information is of use to you in making wise health care decisions and informed referrals.

For more information on low back pain and sciatica, click here.


  1. Sharpless SK: Susceptibility of Spinal Roots to Compression Block, p.155. In Goldstein M, editor: The Research Status of Spinal Manipulative Therapy, Monograph #15, Bethesda, MD, 1975, NIH/NINCDS, U.S. Department of Health, Education & Welfare.
  2. Ruch WJ: Autonomic Neuroanatomy of the Vertebral Subluxation Complex. In Masarsky CS, Todres-Masarsky M, editors: Somatovisceral Aspects of Chiropractic: An Evidence-Based Approach, Churchill Livingstone, New York, 2001.
  3. Shekelle PG, Adams AH, et al: The Appropriateness of Spinal Manipulation for Low Back Pain: Project Overview and Literature Review. RAND, Santa Monica, Calif., 1992.
  4. Koes BW, et al: A randomised clinical trial of manual therapy and physiotherapy for persistent back and neck complaints: subgroup analysis and relationship between outcome measures. J Manipulative Physiol Ther 1993;16(4):211.
  5. Rosner AL: Musculoskeletal Disorders Research. In Redwood D, Cleveland CS, editors: Fundamentals of Chiropractic, Mosby, St. Louis, Mo., 2003.
  6. Manga P: Enhanced Chiropractic Coverage Under OHIP as a Means for Reducing Health Care Costs, Attaining Better Health Outcomes and Achieving Equitable Access to Health Services. Report to the Ontario Ministry of Health, Ontario, 1998

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