Do You Limit Activities Because of Low Back Pain?
As a back pain doctor Mesa, AZ residents trust understands, one of the main concerns new patients express to their provider at chiropractic care centers is whether movements and activities that could make their condition worse. Many people are afraid to get moving when experiencing aches, pains, and other symptoms. However, staying still may be what makes the issue exacerbate.
Quite frankly, it’s rare that the typical low back pain patient will be made worse in the long run by activities that they may do, provided that the activity wouldn’t produce low back pain in a patient who does not have low back pain. In other words, lifting and twisting while carrying a 100 pound object is not a good idea whether you have low back pain or never have in your life.
A large number of low back pain patients who come in with a new episode don’t recall doing anything to bring about the problem. Sometimes the aggravating event is not as obvious (new shoes, side sleeping without a pillow between the knees, new chair, etc…) and sometimes, the patient is in my office, not because of what they did, but because of what they are NOT doing. As in moving around.
It is very common for the mere act of being a couch potato to create low back pain, as a back pain doctor in Mesa knows all too well. So, when the new patient comes into my office and is concerned that movement may make his or her back pain worse, I reassure them that movement is a good thing. Sacroiliac conditions, for example, do way better when the patient is moving around and keeping the joint “lubricated.”
A frustrating aspect of practice for me is how often chronic lower back pain patients, or those who have a tendency to “throw out” their backs, have been told to “take it easy” and limit activity by an orthopedic doctor, family practice doctor, physical therapist, or even my own colleagues. At LifeCare Chiropractic, we can provide you with information about exercises and stretches that you can do at home to keep moving without injuring yourself further.
Fear of Movement. It’s Never a Good Thing.
This particular study drives this point home. Researchers looked across 17 clinical studies to see how much of an effect fear avoidance behaviors (as measured by the Fear Avoidance Beliefs Questionnaire (FABQ) or the Tampa Scale of Kinesiophobia (TSK)) had on whether or not treatment was effective. Here’s what they found:
- In patients who had up to 6 months duration of low back pain, high fear avoidance beliefs were associated with more pain and/or disability and a lower likelihood of returning to work.
- However, if patients were able to show a decrease in fear avoidance beliefs during treatment there was less pain and disability.
- Interventions that addressed fear avoidance beliefs led to better outcomes.
- The results were not as strong in chronic patients.
I had recently been asked to participate in a chronic pain panel for the Arizona Corporation Commission. This involved looking at case studies of chronic pain patients to see how guidelines could be effectively applied for treatment. However, I had such a hard time being unbiased looking at these studies because so many of the cases of chronic pain are actually failed cases of acute pain.
When first meeting with us at LifeCare Chiropractic, we will do whatever we can to find out where the root cause of your pain is coming from. While you may feel pain in your low back, maybe this could be stemming from an upper vertebrae that is out of alignment or a hip-related issue. Remember, the body is all interconnected, so the cause of the problem may not be as apparent as you may think.
5 Ways to Have a Healthy Spine
A chiropractor knows that your spine needs to support your movement and function for life. Habits that promote a healthy spine can keep it pain-free and working properly throughout your active days and restful nights. At LifeCare Chiropractic, your spinal health is important to us. We can help you make healthy choices for your spine. Numerous habits that contribute to a healthy, happy spine. Here are some you’ll likely want to consider:
#1 Carry it well.
Good posture is an essential part of a healthy spine. This means:
- Standing up straight when you’re moving about or working.
- Being conscious of your sitting position when you’re at a desk or at home in front of the television or playing video games.
- Managing the time you spend with your head tilted forward looking at screens.
- Optimizing your sleeping position in bed.
- And so much more.
Mindful consideration of correct posture is a beneficial habit that you can incorporate into your daily routine with minimum effort.
#2 Exercise to optimize form and function.
Your spine requires regular exercise to maintain proper function. Your back must be strong and also flexible so you can twist, bend, and reach with optimal ease. Choose exercises that promote a flexible spine like spinal stretches and certain yoga poses. Working the muscles around the spine including the abs, chest, obliques, and hip flexors helps to maximize support for the spine and hold it in the correct position. Stretches that can help your spinal health include:
- Back Flexion Exercise: lay on your back, pull both knees up to your chest and push the head forward until you can feel the mild stretch.
- Knee-Chest Stretch: lay on your back on the floor, rest both heels on the floor and bend one knee at a time towards the chest. Use both hands to bring a knee up to your chest. Heels should be angled parallel to the wall.
- Hip Stretch: with your feet apart about a shoulder-width, take a half step backwards with the left foot. Then bend your right knee and shift weight onto the hip. Keep the left leg straight and reach down the right leg until you feel a gentle pull in your outer hip area.
- Shoulder-Ear Stretch: while in the sitting position, bend the neck to each side as if you are trying to touch the ear to the shoulder. Just do not pull your head too far to the side, make sure you stop once you feel a gentle stretch.
#3 Feed the spine.
Choosing healthy, nutrient-dense food supports the bones, muscles, and nerves in the musculoskeletal system. A diet high in vitamin and mineral-packed leafy greens and vegetables can help your bones and tissues function optimally and better accommodate the stresses you encounter. Examples of food items that can influence the health of your spine include:
- Chia Seeds
Certain herbs and spices can also have a positive impact on spinal health, such as cinnamon, basil, ginger, rosemary, and turmeric.
#4 Rest the spine.
Inadequate or insufficient sleep can wreak havoc on the entire body—including the spine. The spine participates in much of the body’s activity, so it needs its time to rest, recuperate, and rejuvenate too. Make sure your spine has adequate support during sleep and avoid positions that compromise your spinal curve. We may suggest using a thinner or thicker pillow, and a cushion between your knees so that your spine is aligned straight when sleeping.
#5 Get chiropractic care.
Our Arizona back pain doctor uses manipulations, or adjustments, to reposition spinal bones that are out of correct alignment, or subluxated. Adjustments can remove interference from incorrect spinal alignment on the nerves that extend to the body from the spinal cord and allow optimal transmission of nerve signals throughout the body.
We use various chiropractic techniques for adjusting the subluxated vertebrae. Which ones are used can be part of a comprehensive treatment protocol that takes into account your age and the severity and extent of spinal misalignment condition.
Adjustments are considered safe for people of all ages and are a natural, non-invasive, drug-free treatment.
Our Arizona back pain doctor has the qualifications and training to detect subluxations. Special techniques like digital x-rays, thermal scanning, and postural analysis can help our team determine whether or not subluxations are present.
Chiropractic care has enduring benefits that many people choose to incorporate into their lifestyle, much for the same health-promoting reasons that people eat right, exercise, and strive to get quality sleep.
And in Arizona, very few patients ever make it into chiropractic offices in the early stages, when manipulation can be the most powerful. Most end up medicated and / or put into physical therapy. Considering that the cost of going into physical therapy treatment for non-surgical spinal conditions first here in Arizona is almost TRIPLE the cost of chiropractic care, it may be that fear avoidance behaviors are addressed intuitively by chiropractors, lowering the chance of a condition becoming chronic.
Required Educational Process for Chiropractors
If you are thinking about seeing a chiropractor, you might be curious about what type of education and training they are required to go through before being allowed to practice in your state. Each state does have slightly different requirements for this type of specialty, but all states require chiropractors to complete a minimum amount of education and maintain a license.
In many states, chiropractors must earn a Doctor of Chiropractic (DC) which can require at least three years of undergraduate education, or in some cases a full bachelor’s degree, and four years for the actual chiropractic program. The program should be accredited by The Council on Chiropractic Education.
Most programs also include a certain amount of clinical experience where the students learn spinal assessment, adjustment techniques, and how to diagnose certain ailments, while being supervised. The total program hours can be a minimum of 4,200 hours through classroom, lab, and clinicals, with clinical experience lasting a full year. Thus, even chiropractors coming into their own practice right out of school have a good amount of treatment experience under their belts to provide you with safe and effective care.
Average programs have the equivalent classroom time as both osteopathic and allopathic medical programs. In many states and through Medicare, chiropractors are considered physician-level. Other federal health programs also provide coverage for chiropractic treatment including:
- US Department of Veterans Affairs
- US Department of Defense
- Federal Employees Health Benefits Program
- Federal Workers’ Comp
- State workers’ comp programs
There are postgraduate opportunities for chiropractors as well, such as obtaining a specialty in orthopedics or pediatrics. So all in all, you can rest assured that your chiropractic doctor has the experience and qualifications to treat you. However, just as with any field, there are people who should not practice medicine. There is no harm in doing thorough research on a chiropractic doctor before receiving treatments.
State Licensing and Certification
All states do require chiropractors to complete a DC degree program through an accredited college, as well as pass the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners exam. Depending on the state you live in, they may also need to pass additional state exams (jurisprudence exams) and go through a background check to obtain state licensing to legally practice.
Many states also require practicing chiropractors to continue their education if they want to maintain their license. This can include completing a certain number of course hours every year.
Chiropractic Treatment for You
Knowing that chiropractors are required to go through rigorous education and training before being allowed to open their own practice can give many individuals seeking treatment some peace of mind. Chiropractors are trained to provide very safe treatment to their patients and will review your health history before proceeding with a plan designed for your unique situation. You can also consult with your primary doctor to determine if chiropractic spinal adjustments would be beneficial for you.
Of course, this also means that, should you come across a chiropractor who uses fear (i.e. subluxation kills and without adjusting your nervous system can’t flow) to sell you on more care, it may be time to work on your short burst activity and run the other way. Contact a qualified back pain doctor in Mesa, Arizona today from LifeCare Chiropractic for more information!
“Mistie was fantastic! I felt like a new person after I walked out of there”