Back pain has reached epidemic proportions. In the U.S., it has become of the most common reasons for visiting a doctor’s office, and also the primary culprit for lost work days. Back pain may develop slowly and become chronic over time, or there may be a sudden onset following an incident, such as a car accident, sporting mishap, or even lifting a heavy object the wrong way.
Tracking down the source of back pain can be tricky because it tends to be secondary or “referred pain,” meaning that the real problem frequently begins in some other area of the body. Usually, back pain originates in the spine.
The human spine is complex. It consists of 24 moveable, ring-shaped bones called vertebrae, which are all connected by means of 144 joints. Between each vertebra is a cushiony disc that acts as a shock absorber and provides support. There are ligaments that connect the bones to one another, and cartilage to help the joints glide smoothly. Tendons connect the spine’s bones to surrounding muscles. Running straight down the center of the spinal column is a bundle of nervous tissue called the spinal cord, which allows communication between the brain and every other area of the body. When dysfunction occurs in one part of the spine, it tends to affect all the other parts.
Back Pain Is Just The Messenger
Pain is your body’s way of sending a message that something is amiss. If it weren’t for pain symptoms, you could do irreparable damage to yourself as you go about your daily activities. Pain relievers may temporarily silence the message that something is wrong, but that doesn’t mean the problem has gone away. Meanwhile, the pain relievers themselves can do tremendous harm. Aspirin, ibuprofen and acetaminophen have possible side effects ranging from mild stomach pain to ulcers, gastrointestinal bleeding, and liver failure. One goal of chiropractic is to alleviate pain by correcting the underlying cause, rather than merely masking symptoms with potentially harmful drugs.
Subluxations Are Usually At Fault
When one or more of the spine’s vertebrae are jostled out of alignment, that referred to as a vertebral subluxation. The subluxation pinches the nerves, which become irritated and inflamed. This in turn may affect the surrounding soft tissue – the ligaments, tendons, and muscles. Back pain may be experienced as a constant, dull ache, or a sharp pain that only flares up when you move. It may feel like knots in the muscles, or muscle spasms. It may be restricted to one location, or it may radiate down the arms or legs. Whether the pain is piercing, a burning sensation, or a dull ache, it most often begins with a subluxation. Left uncorrected, subluxations can result in degenerative damage to the spine’s structure, as well as many other health problems.
Chiropractic Alleviates Back Pain Naturally
Before back pain can be banished, the underlying cause must be located and corrected. Your chiropractor has the education and experience needed to interpret your back pain symptoms and to determine which part of your spine is dysfunctional. Damage to the soft tissue could be at fault, or the spine’s hardware – the joints and discs – may have suffered injury. Doctors of chiropractic also have the diagnostic skills required to determine whether you are among the minority who suffer back pain resulting from a disease or condition other than subluxation.