Published on February 27, 2014
Low Back Pain and Sciatica
Low back problems account for more than 12 million visits to doctors each year. Source: American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, www.orthoinfo.aaos.org.
According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, 8 out of 10 people will experience low back pain at some point in their lives. Source: American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, www.orthoinfo.aaos.org.
Besides the common cold, low back pain results in more lost work days than any other physical affliction in persons under the age of 45. Source: American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, www.orthoinfo.aaos.org.
Back pain not only affects adults but children as well.
According to a recent study in the Scandinavian Journal of Rehabilitative Medicine, nearly 51% of school children suffered from low back pain. Significant risk factors included: age, gender, amount of time spent in front of the TV and involvement in competitive sports. Source: Kids Need Chiropractic, Too, P. Fysh, D.C.; ChiroWeb.com, www.chiroweb.com.
Low Back Pain is the most common type of back pain due to the fact that the lower back supports the majority of your body weight. For this reason it is the second most common cause for Americans to see a doctor. Source: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003108.htm
Low back problems can lead to nerve irritation. When the nerve involved goes down the leg, a condition called Sciatica can develop.
Sciatica is a condition involving pain, weakness, numbness, or tingling in the leg. It is caused by injury to or compression of the Sciatic nerve. Source: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000686.htm
According the Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, Sciatica is most likely to occur around ages 30-50 and about 80-90 percent of people get better without surgery. Source: AAOS, American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons.com
The primary cause of back pain comes from misalignments of the spine causing swelling and pressure on the nerves that exit the spine.
When a segment of the spine, called the vertebra, becomes misaligned, it causes a condition called a sub (minor) luxation (dislocation) or Subluxation.
Another cause of back pain is the bulging of a disc. A disc is the pad that sits between the bones of the spine so they do not rub each other.
Discs can bulge or protrude onto nerves with direct nerve pressure causing pain.
Pain anywhere in the body is caused by nerve endings that become excited or irritated.
Why do so many Americans have problems with their backs?
There are four reasons: • Lack of exercise • Poor posture • Physical trauma • Emotional stress All are aggravated if you are overweight.
There have been thousands of studies outlining the benefits of regular exercise.
Unfortunately, Americans continue to avoid exercise, thinking it might exhaust them. The opposite is true.
Anyone who exercises will tell you they actually have more energy.
What’s the result of all the sitting, relaxing and watching TV rather than being active?
Statistics don’t lie. Thirty-one million Americans have low back pain at any given time. Each year, one half of all working Americans admit to varying degrees of back pain. One third of all Americans over age 18 had a back problem in the past five years, severe enough for them to seek professional help. The cost of this care is estimated to be a staggering $50 billion yearly. SOURCE: The Marion Star, January 15, 2005, by Dr. Todd Joachim, Guest Columnist
One in six adults suffers from chronic back pain. The North American Spine Society surveyed 1,014 adults with back pain about the condition of their backs within the past 30 days. 64% of women and 50% of men experienced back pain. Nearly 33% reported difficulty lying in bed, 22% said it was uncomfortable to drive, more than 25% of respondents said back pain made it too difficult to engage in vigorous physical exercise and 32% were unable to lift heavy objects. SOURCE: Maumee Bay Health Online: Jan. 17, 2005, “Back Pain Epidemic”
Poor posture is the second cause of back problems.
The proper shape of the spine has four curves.
Your body has curves so you can spring when you walk.
You can lose the normal curves of the spine through accidents, lack of exercise or poor posture.
Bad habits such as slouching, watching TV in unusual positions, and failure to exercise contribute to improper posture.
Gravity exerts pressure down on the body. When the spine is misaligned, the force of gravity can cause wear and tear on spinal joints leading to inflamed nerves and pain.
Physical trauma such as lifting heavy objects, car accidents and even childhood playground injuries can affect you years after the incident.
The American Chiropractic Association recently ranked the jobs that are most likely to contribute to the onset of back pain: • Truck drivers: Drivers are subjected to constant compression and vibration as well as prolonged sitting. • Construction workers and landscapers: These workers are subjected to awkward positions, heavy lifting, repetitive motion, twisting and turning.
• Emergency personnel: Prolonged sitting, sudden movements, carrying heavy loads and equipment, etc. • Farmers and delivery drivers: These workers are subjected to heavy lifting. • Nursing home workers: Lifting patients can cause these workers to twist their backs, lose their balance, and make sudden reactionary movements that may result in injury. SOURCE: Ergonomics Today, October 15, 2004; eTrucker, www.etrucker.com, 2004.
Spinal trauma can affect us from a young age up through adulthood. Dr. Tassell, President of the Chiropractic Association of Australia, said, “Parents need to be better educated on the effects of playground injuries and poor posture on growing spines. Unless these injuries are addressed, they may suffer long term recurring back problems throughout their adult years.” SOURCE: www.caa.com.au/media/info
According to a recent study in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, researchers selected children suffering from low back pain. Nearly 50% of the pain was due to trauma, such as sports-related injuries. They were diagnosed with subluxations, and when treated, 90% of the children reported significant improvement. SOURCE: Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, 2003:26(1), pp.1-8
Stress is also a factor. A recent study by the American Journal of Public Health showed that the psychological stress a person is subjected to early in life can cause low back pain a decade later. This study shows that there is more than just ergonomic or physical causes of stress. SOURCE: American Journal of Public Health, October 2001, Vol. 91, No. 10, pp. 1671-1678
The results of the study showed that patients who reported stress at age 23 were 2.5 times more likely than their peers to have low back pain 10 years later. And, those who smoked a half a pack of cigarettes or more a day had an even higher risk of low back pain a decade later. Researchers suggest that minimizing stress now can potentially reduce future occurrences of pain. SOURCE: American Journal of Public Health, October 2001, Vol. 91, No. 10, pp. 1671-1678
A common misconception about back pain is that you need to rest and avoid activity for a long time. In fact, “bed rest” is not recommended. The best solution is moderate activity. Source: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003108.htm
Proper exercise can actually help with lower back problems. Since weak muscles contribute to the misalignment of the spine, strengthening muscles should be part of any program to help restore normal function to the lower back.
What you don’t use; you lose. If you don’t exercise, muscles and ligaments become weak and fail to hold your body in its proper alignment.
Dr. Cailliet, MD., writes in his book Low Back Syndrome: “Mild exercise such as walking or swimming 20 minutes a day can help eliminate and prevent certain forms of back pain.” Source: Low Back Syndrome, Edition 5, R. Cailliet, M.D.,1995.
Since every person is different, your exercise program should be determined by a doctor familiar with different forms of exercise.
What can you do to eliminate back pain?
There are three common remedies: • Drugs • Surgery, or • Physical treatment, which would include spinal adjustments (specific manipulation of the spine), posture correction and lower back exercises.
There are two problems with drugs or medications: 1. They fail to address the cause of the problem so there is no permanent solution. 2. There are side effects that can be worse than the original problem.
NSAIDs1 (over-the-counter medications to relieve pain and inflammation) cause gastrointestinal hemorrhage, hepatitis, abdominal pain and diarrhea. Celebrex ® has caused acute pancreatitis, which can be fatal. Their use can also lead to infertility and increased clotting of the blood, which could increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes. Source: “Watch Out for New Pain Prescriptions,” Dr. Sherry Rogers’ Total Wellness Newsletter, November 2000, p. 7. 1. Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs.
Often surgery is considered after medication has failed. However, surgery, if possible, should be postponed until nutrition, exercise and other safe, alternative treatments have been tried.
A study was conducted to determine the health of patients after surgery versus patients who had no surgery. The National Spine Network reviewed more than 18,000 patients with back pain who were entered into the database from January 1998 to April 2000. Of those patients, 3,632 had a history of low back surgery. Source: Hee HT, Whitecloud III TS, Myers L. The effect of previous low back surgery on general health status. Spine, Sept. 1, 2004;29(17):1931-7 What is pain rehabilitation?
Results showed that patients with a history of lumbar spine surgery fared significantly worse in areas such as physical functioning, general health and mental health, compared to those patients with no prior history of spine surgery. “Previous back surgery is associated with significantly worse general health status than those without surgery among patients with low back pain…” Source: Hee HT, Whitecloud III TS, Myers L. The effect of previous low back surgery on general health status. Spine, Sept. 1, 2004;29(17):1931-7 What is pain rehabilitation?
A study by Callahan & Cianciulli shows that 70% of those who have had surgery for low back pain still report pain 4 to 17 years after surgery. Source: “Chiropractic for Low Back Pain: An Alternative to Surgery”; Callahan & Cianciulli; Foundation for Chiropractic Education and Research, Publication #9676.
Since low back pain is physical in nature, it often responds best to a physical form of treatment.
The Agency for Healthcare Policy and Research conducted a government study, in which they found that for Low Back Pain, spinal manipulation was the best and they recommended: 1. Spinal manipulation by a chiropractor, 2. Low-stress exercise such as walking, swimming or biking, if the problems are “mild or “moderate”, 3. More rigorous “conditioning exercises” for the trunk muscles to start, gradually increasing after the first 2 weeks of pain. Source: Chicago Sun-Times, Thursday, December 8, 1994.
In a survey conducted in 2002 by Media General Research, 42% of the participants had experienced back pain within the last 12 months. According to the survey, Chiropractic was rated the #1 natural healthcare choice. 91% who had seen a chiropractor rated the effectiveness of Chiropractic as being satisfactory to excellent. And, according to the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research, for patients with recent onset low back pain, Chiropractic treatment was rated the most effective. Source: Foundation of Chiropractic Progress, news release, February 21, 2002; www.chiroeco.news.com;World Chiropractic Alliance, HealthWatch Newsletter, www.wcanews.com, March 2002; Kids Need Chiropractic, Too, P. Fysh, D.C.; ChiroWeb.com, www.chiroweb.com.
A study released by the Ontario Ministry of Health and published in USA Today cited: “The best clinical studies show that spinal adjustment is more effective, safer, and more cost-effective than other conventional treatments for low back pain.” Source: USA Today, October 29,1993, “Chiropractors Hope Back Study Will Bring Relief from Bias”.
Many people are unaware that a Doctor of Chiropractic is required to complete an education very similar to that of a Medical Doctor. Chiropractors are trained in premed, then four years of Chiropractic College. All 50 states license chiropractors to treat patients. Like the curriculum of medical schools, a chiropractor’s education is devoted to scientific subjects such as anatomy, biochemistry, microbiology, pathology, public health diagnosis, clinical disciplines, and health sciences. Source: Chiropractic: The Right Choice (video), Foundation for Chiropractic Education and Research 1995.
“A bulged disc in my lower back has provided me a history of needing care. One month ago, I experienced my worse incident ever. My chiropractor relieved my intense pain within one week! By the end of the second week, I couldn’t even remember hurting my back. This pain relief in such a short period of time has proven [Chiropractic’s] effectiveness. I would normally have missed a week of work. In two days, I was able to slowly return to my job. It’s incredible!” -D.W. SOURCE: Donald G. Walls, Jr./Kretschmar Chiropractic, St. Petersburg, FL, June 1999.
Decompression Therapy A relatively new procedure, called “Spinal Decompression Therapy” is available. This process is designed specifically for disc injuries, degeneration, and facet syndrome. 56
Because chiropractors work with their hands and are trained to find and correct physical conditions, they are used by some of the world’s greatest athletes and entertainers.
Famous people such as Tiger Woods, Paul McCartney, Clint Eastwood, Billy Jean King, the San Francisco 49ers football team, Bruce Willis, Madonna, Cher, Kirstie Alley, Mel Gibson, John Travolta, and the Minnesota Vikings, to name just a few, seek regular Chiropractic treatment to prevent injuries, and to stay in top physical shape.
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