Chronic lower back pain can affect one’s ability to live a normal life. If the person is limited by lower back pain it can cause them to have unintentional weight gain due to physical inactivity. Back pain may also lead to muscle weakness of the legs and core, which, in turn, increases the risk of falls. A feeling of malaise and depression may also result. I recently had a patient who is suffering from this problem, who, after receiving, chiropractic care, was able to start a journey back to a normal lifestyle.
Dominic, a 55-year-old male, had been suffering from lower back pain for over a dozen years.
He’d had several work-related accidents during the course of his county maintenance employment. Each of these was significant and required him to be off work for several months during his recovery. A final work injury to his back, required surgery and his forced disability retirement.
Although the surgery helped his lower back, he continued to have some degree of chronic back pain. If he engaged in too much physical activity, such as yardwork, home repairs or playing vigorously with his grandkids, his back discomfort greatly increased.
When we initially met, he was looking, of course, for back pain relief, but was forthright enough to tell me that he was fearful and concerned that I would have him doing physical rehabilitation that would increase his back discomfort. Previously, physical therapy rehab consisting of planks, exercise balls, and bridges simply aggravated and worsened his lower back pain.
This is called fear-avoidance, and it is very common for those experiencing chronic back pain. They have had numerous times when they’ve had an exacerbation of their pain after over doing physical activity. They become “gun shy” to try activity again, because they don’t want to have increased back discomfort.
I told Dominic that I appreciated him explaining his concern to me, and that we would certainly not do anything that would lead to more problems.
Dominic’s chiropractic care was begun to solely help him with his back discomfort. Gentle, safe, chiropractic spinal adjustments were administered. Dominic had never tried chiropractic care previously and over the course of six weeks of treatment he was pleasantly impressed with the reduction of his pain. He was given some very mild stretching exercises to do in the morning which he found loosened his back muscles and made the rest of the day go much easier.
After about a month of care, I encouraged Dominic to start taking some short daily walks of about 20 to 30 minutes. He had no problem with these walks and was happy to find an activity that he enjoyed and did not lead to any increased back pain.
After the six weeks of chiropractic care he had reached a substantial level of improvement, and we agreed to try reducing the frequency of his visits. I told him to continue his walking as I felt this would help him with his overall conditioning. He was hopeful that, by being able to be more physically active, without hurting his back, he could lose weight and gradually gain strength in his legs and core muscles that had been lost over years of inactivity.
Now, Dominic calls me periodically to come to the office and have a maintenance chiropractic treatment. This helps minimize his back pain and allows him to continue his walking exercise. He’s increased his walking to 30 to 45 minutes 4 to 5 days a week.
I told him I believe the best thing for him to do is to continue walking, gradually lose some weight and improve his strength. At some point, if he feels like he wants to take on more exercise like lifting light weights, or using resistance bands, he can try it, but it’s up to him.
Time will tell how much activity Dominic can handle. Now that his back pain has been reduced, and he has found some activity and exercise he can safely perform, he said he’s encouraged and happier that he might, gradually increases activity level. It may take some years for him to accomplish this, but now he has hope instead of despair!
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