Back & Neck Pain Relief
I began my Monday morning like any other day in my chiropractic practice of 37 years. I had a number of patients scheduled and was looking forward to being of help. As soon as we entered the office the phone rang. It was a new patient, Beth, who was having burning pain in her neck and shoulder blade area which had started over the weekend. Another current patient, Joe, had an appointment scheduled to manage his ongoing, chronic neck and back pain. This article will discuss how natural, safe chiropractic care can be of help to those suffering from acute and chronic neck and back spine pain. It will also introduce current scientific research describing how chiropractic treatment can be of societal benefit and improve outcomes and cost effectiveness of the healthcare system in general.
When I met with Beth I talked with her about her condition, performed a physical evaluation and took x-rays of her neck. We discovered that she had some misalignments and improperly moving spinal vertebrae that was causing her pain. I knew that with chiropractic spinal manipulation she would be at least 50% better in a few days and in a couple weeks, it would be like it never had occurred.
Joe has been a patient of mine for many years. He developed neck and lower back discomfort from a combination of years of hard physical work and being in two significant automobile accidents. Before originally coming to me he had tried a number of treatments including spinal injections and painkiller and muscle relaxer medications, neither of which really helped him. Since Joe has chronic ligament weakness and disc degeneration of his spine, he receives regular, periodic gentle chiropractic care which helps him manage his pain with minimal use of pain medications.
Chiropractic is the third largest healing profession in the United States behind medicine and dentistry. Chiropractor’s main focus is treating spinal neck and lower back discomfort through the use of chiropractic spinal manipulations – – also termed chiropractic adjustments. These procedures are aimed at correcting misalignments and improper movement of the spinal and pelvic joints. Chiropractors do not perform spinal injections or surgery and do not prescribe medications. This makes the chiropractic the largest natural healing profession in the world.
A recent scientific paper in Translational Research, authored by three orthopedic surgeons from Duke University, notes that back and neck pain accounted for $134 billion of US healthcare spending in 2016. This was the highest healthcare spending of any of the 154 medical conditions included in the study. They go on to say that, for decades, conventional medical treatment has been to prescribe medications, including opioids, or perform injections or surgery for spine pain. This approach has had limited effectiveness helping patients with pain and loss of daily activities and has been very expensive.
The scientific literature proposes a different approach of delivery of spinal pain care utilizing first contact, non-pharmaceutical, conservative, natural care from providers like chiropractors, acupuncturist and physical therapists.
In a case of acute spinal pain, like Beth experienced, this would significantly reduce the chance of opioid dependency had she utilized standard treatment from a primary care provider.
With my patient Joe’s chronic spine pain the research study recommends moving towards a model of management as we would with other types of human ailments like high blood pressure and diabetes. His is a condition that cannot be cured but can be managed.
Chiropractors are uniquely suited to fulfill the role of first contact spinal pain providers. When a patient visits a chiropractor a history is taken, a physical evaluation is performed and, if necessary, x-rays can be obtained. The chiropractor then has the education to make a diagnosis and to perform skilled, safe spinal manipulation.
This approach would increase effectiveness of reducing or eliminating patient’s acute or chronic spinal pain. It would also help these individuals with their activities of daily living like sleeping, performing their occupation more effectively, interacting socially with their families and friends and improving overall enjoyment of life. Societal cost of problems with opioid dependency would be reduced. Patients with improved or eliminated spinal pain would certainly be more employable and able to care for their family, which would reduce the expense and strain on our society’s welfare safety net.
It would be prudent to utilize chiropractic healthcare specialists who provide autonomy, expertise and skill to help patients, society and the nation with the plague of spinal back and neck pain.