In my chiropractic practice of 35 years I have heard my patients say, many times, that their lower back pain “made them feel old.” Anyone suffering from discomfort of the back can readily understand and sympathize with that sentiment and look forward to the time back pain relief will arrive. When the back is acting up it limits us in practically all of our activities of daily living. Conversely, if our back feels well and our general health is good, we can not only function normally but optimally.
Over the course of decades there has been an evolution of knowledge about back disorders. This article will review the progression of non-credible and credible evidence-based care of mechanical pain of the back. It will discuss the numerous benefits of chiropractic evaluation and treatment in the quest for relief of lower back pain.
Some of the earliest scholarly literature regarding back conditions made the erroneous declaration that lower back pain was short lived, self-limiting and self-resolving. The authorities who made these statements had no scientific research evidence. It was simply opinion.
Unfortunately, this dogma became ingrained in the perspective of some healthcare professionals, the insurance industry and governmental agencies. Despite knowledge to the contrary, which will be discussed further in this article, many inaccurate healthcare guidelines detailing care of painful back conditions persist to this day.
In the mid-1990s several studies were published in prominent research journals such as Spine and the British Medical Journal which were contrary to earlier scholarship. These scientific articles, backed with research and evidence, noted that conditions of a painful back came as recurrent episodes. In other words, patients would have ongoing numerous times when their back was painful with intervals of less or no pain. These studies made clear that back pain could be an ongoing, unresolved chronic condition. It was discovered that over time recurrences of painful episodes worsened and became a huge problem for the individual and society.
Unsuccessful treatment by many healthcare practitioners included use of medications, recommendations of rest, exercise programs and ultimately, surgery. Evidence showed that while there may be short-term symptomatic relief with these regimens, the underlying problem continue to exist for all concerned.
Currently, this ongoing problem has contributed to the United States having an opioid epidemic. Many people hooked on narcotic drugs attribute their addiction to initial opioid prescriptions for their painful back. In addition, society expends huge financial costs in the treatment of back pain.
In the 2000’s research revealed that the majority of back conditions was a result of a specific, underlying biomechanical cause. Treatment mentioned previously did nothing to correct the biomechanical problem. However, scholarship did reveal an underutilized profession that had been successfully treating lower back pain for over 100 years.
The profession of chiropractic focuses on the evaluation and treatment of the cause of the majority of lower back pain. Specifically, misalignments and improper motion of the joints of the spine and pelvis create back discomfort. By restoring proper movement and alignment of the spine and pelvis chiropractors are able to address the underlying cause of conditions of the back. Whereas other types of care are nonspecific, a doctor of chiropractic’s focus is on correction of the mechanical problem. Without the use of drugs or surgery chiropractors utilize a chiropractic adjustment to address the exact problem. Chiropractic adjustments are a safe, gentle technique to physically create realignment and proper movement, specifically where it is needed in the spine and/or pelvis.
Numerous research studies confirm that chiropractic is considered the gold standard for alleviation of pain in the back. This has numerous benefits. Some scientists feel that chiropractic care for lower back pain could greatly improve the opioid epidemic in the United States. Studies show that alleviation of back pain also allows individuals to continue with their normal life working, attending school, keeping up a house and yard, sleeping well and maintaining agreeable family and social relationships.
This all tends to benefit cost savings to individuals, families and society. Since back pain can cause people to be in a situation of financial disability a huge burden can be created on many levels. Keeping people employed versus having to accept government disability payments should create a financial incentive for back ache sufferers to be encouraged to seek chiropractic care.
The increasing range of scientific published research studies, supporting chiropractic care, for the management of spinal pain, has not only evolved over recent decades but clearly shows that there are many benefits for the inclusion of chiropractic relief of back complaints.