Chiropractic Care for Lower Back Pain


What is chiropractic care?

Chiropractic is a health profession that focuses on controlled force to a spinal joint. A trained specialist (chiropractor) aligns the musculoskeletal structure (especially the spine) through hands-on manipulation, which improves physical function and spinal motion. Many people experience reduced pain symptoms, including inflammation and muscle tension, with chiropractic care.

Chiropractic care for lower back pain

Low back pain is the leading cause of disability. Approximately 85% of people experience it at some point in their lives. Oftentimes, the cause and appropriate treatment of back pain is unclear.

Back pain can result for various reasons, including sports injuries, muscle strains, accidents, sciatica, repetitive misuse, etc. A chiropractor may focus on spinal manipulation to ease lower back pain with a hands-on, controlled force that is applied to abnormal vertebrae. This can reduce nerve irritability and restore the range of motion in the back.

A chiropractor may also recommend spinal mobilization if pain is severe. This includes movement and stretching of the muscles and joints and a low velocity manipulation to increase the range of motion.

What does chiropractic care for lower back pain involve?

A chiropractor will obtain a medical history, perform a physical examination, and use diagnostic imaging to determine the cause and appropriate treatment plan for lower back pain. An individual's current pain level, diagnosis, and activity tolerance is vital in determining a suitable chiropractic treatment plan.

During a chiropractic session, the individual is placed in specific positions (e.g., face down, on the side, on the stomach, etc.) on a padded table. A chiropractor applies force with the hands to move a joint. Oftentimes, individuals hear popping or cracking sounds as dissolved gas releases from the synovial fluid of the joint.

Typically, one or more manual adjustments will be completed. The goal is to restore function, relieve pain, and prevent further injury. Positive long-term outcome is increased with maintenance spinal manipulation following the initial therapy.

Benefits and risks

Chiropractic care can improve range of motion, reduce nerve irritability, help physical function, and decrease lower back pain. Other benefits include less need for pain medication and satisfaction with the treatment method.

Spinal manipulation is typically safe when performed by a trained and licensed professional; however, muscle and joint stiffness can occur. It should be avoided for those with osteoporosis, spinal cord compression, inflammatory arthritis, or who take blood-thinning medicine. In addition, if a history of cancer is present, approval for chiropractic care should be obtained from a health care professional.

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