“Ever since I was in my early teens, I’ve had muscle and joint problems that would come and go but never put me down where I couldn’t function. I was very active and played basketball, tennis, and ran in track but over the last 10 years I’ve avoided a lot of activity due to my problems. Now, after having a couple of children and gaining some weight, I notice more frequent and intense back problems and I’m getting quite concerned over the changes that have been taking place and afraid to do things. I talked about this with my family and friends and some have recommended chiropractic, some recommend physical therapy, others suggest medication and one even suggested shots! Quite frankly, I’m totally confused as to what to do!”
This scenario may sound familiar to many people.
The choice of healthcare provision is a personal one, often influenced by those around you—family, friends, teachers, and more!
It seems like everyone is an “expert” with different opinions and their advice, often conflicting, can lead to confusion about what is best for you.
There are many ways to approach back trouble, regardless of the diagnosis or condition.
First, all healthcare providers are biased in that they naturally focus on their specialty. If you choose to consult with a surgeon, s/he will look at your condition from a surgical perspective. Various surgical options may be discussed, tests are usually recommended, and the process begins.
When consulting with a family physician, the typical approach is pharmaceutical or drugs such as anti-inflammatory medications (ibuprofen, acetaminophen, naproxen, etc.), heat or ice, activity modifications (possibly rest or mild/moderate activity), and possibly referral for chiropractic or physical therapy.
In reviewing the various guidelines, it is recommended to start with the least invasive, safest, most cost-effective approaches first.
Unless “red flags” like cancer, fracture, infection, or progressive severe neurological losses are present, surgery is not a logical initial approach.
Chiropractic has been recommended as a first or initial choice as it has been found to be safe, highly satisfying, non-invasive, and cost effective.
The typical approach includes a thorough history, an examination that includes an analysis of posture, motion, and function that includes the whole body.
For example, if one leg is short, the pelvis will tilt, which can place strain on the spine. That needs to be corrected for both long- and short-term results.
If the feet pronate and the arches are flat, the effects on gait/walking on the ankle, knee, hip and back can lead to trouble or perpetuate current problems.
Deconditioning (being out of shape) is an important aspect included in the chiropractic management process.
If these methods fail to bring about satisfying results, referral for more invasive approaches will be considered.