Most of us have known back pain at some point. At best, it’s a constant annoyance. At worst, it keeps us from sleeping, exercising, enjoying our families, even doing basic daily tasks. It becomes a chore to get out of a chair. Bending over to garden or biking in the mountains next weekend? Forget it.
This article will help you compare your options, such as yoga, massage, P.T., surgery and trying to find a chiropractor in Durham for back pain.
So what do we do? Wait and hope the pain goes away? Since back pain often subsides in several days to a few weeks, many people have decided that their way of dealing with it will be to ride it out. Suffer bravely for a while until the body adjusts. [That’s what Tom tried to do. You can see a video of his back pain story here or at the bottom of this page.]
The problem with this method is that the pain never truly goes away. It will resurface again in the future, whether as back pain or as some other symptom. You see, pain is a symptom. It’s the body’s way of signaling that something is wrong. If you don’t fix that “something,” even if your pain fades for a while, the root problem will still be there.
What causes back pain in the first place?
The spine is to the body what a frame is to a building. If part of the internal framework of a building is weak or crooked, all of the surrounding areas will be compromised.
Same goes for your body. When a joint is misaligned, the muscles surrounding it will tighten in an effort to provide the same level of support. When a vertebra is out of place, the cartilage will start to wear down. When a nerve is pinched and the body’s natural signaling system is interrupted, inflammation will flare up around the site and other symptoms may arise. Arthritis, muscle spasms, and herniated disks can also result from poor alignment. Any of these situations can mean mild to debilitating back pain. If it’s not sore muscles from a good workout, back pain is the result of something being out of place.
So why do I feel better after a couple weeks?
The body is an amazing thing. It heals itself in ways science has worked for centuries to imitate. When you experience an injury, the body (being wired for survival) will work to heal as quickly as possible. Anti-stress hormones flood the system. Soft tissue flexes to support the joints. Nerves carry out rapid-fire orders from the brain. Soon, the symptoms lessen and you think you’re better.
But deep down, the building’s structure is still off. The walls around will crack and the plumbing and electricity will start to act up. In body terms, this can mean anything from headaches to constipation to insomnia to – no surprise here – chronic back pain. Even minor injuries and repetitive strain can lead to life-long pain and physical limitations.
How long does it take to really recover from back pain?
Bad news: if you treat the symptoms and not the cause, your body will never fully recover. It will continue trying to compensate, but the weakened structure will manifest more and more symptoms until things get even WORSE.
That sounds terrible. What can I do to make my back pain go away for good?
There are a lot of vendors claiming they can alleviate your back pain: massage therapists, pharmacists, yoga instructors, surgeons, even the pot dealers. Who’s right? Can any of these options FIX the problem, rather than just masking the symptoms?
While it depends to some extent on the source of the problem, most of these treatment options have pros and cons.
Massage? Pros: feels good, helps you relax, can release soft tissue and allow joints to move back into position. Cons: many “massage therapists” are just people who rub oil on your back; they may not help you in any real way. If done improperly, a massage can actually make a back problem much, much worse. And at best, it fails to fix the structural problem. It’s kind of like plastering over the walls of a condemned building and hoping the occupant won’t outlive the structure. Massage can provide temporary relief and help you stay limber, but it’s not a lasting solution. (If you’re going to get a massage, make sure you see a reputable licensed massage therapist. When it comes to your body and health, it’s not the time to go with the cheapest deal. [Side note: we LOVE and trust Fluffy Tiger Massage in Durham!]
Prescription drugs? Pros: immediate relief. Cons: everything else. Besides bringing on a host of side effects, prescription drugs cover over symptoms, blocking the body’s signals that something urgently needs to be repaired. Worse still, the absence of pain encourages patients to move in ways that they shouldn’t while their bodies are in a compromised condition, and they end up injuring themselves – often severely and even permanently.
Yoga? Pros: as with massage, some natural relief is possible, and yoga can strengthen the muscles that support the skeleton, improving long-term health and wellness. Cons: without proper training, it’s all too easy to injure yourself, stretch the wrong thing in the wrong way, pinch a nerve, or increase inflammation. A truly good trainer can also be hard to find. [Local people have an excellent option over at Arrichion Hot Yoga.]
Surgery? Pros: can provide emergency relief. Cons: expensive, dangerous, mixed results. People tend to think of surgery as a last resort, but many of them haven’t tapped the potential of safe, natural chiropractic care. In a study published in 2012 in Spine, an international, peer-reviewed journal, more than 40% of workers with back pain who went directly to a surgeon ended up having the surgery. Only 1.5% who went to a chiropractor first ended up having the surgery. Many patients who underwent surgery report that their pain returned after a year or two. Surgery can exacerbate problems in the rest of the spine as well, leading to a vicious cycle of pain. Surgery really is best treated as an absolute last resort.
Marijuana? Pros: actually, CBD would be a better bet for stress relief and muscle relaxation. As with massage and yoga, CBD can help but can’t fix. Cons: decision impairment, memory loss, lung damage, legal sanctions, feeding the dealer’s bad habits. Even if you go the CBD route, relaxing your muscles and reducing stress are only effective in tandem with a more rigorous solution: one that tackles the problem at its core.
Is there no solution to making my back pain go away on its own then?
I suppose it’s obvious that on a chiropractic website, my #1 suggestion is to see a reputable Gonstead chiropractor. But that’s not just my suggestion. In a Consumer Reports survey people indicated that chiropractic care is the preferred treatment for back pain over all other treatment options.
Why? Simple. Chiropractic doesn’t fix pain. It fixes the problem. When you fix the problem, the pain goes away and stays away. Instead of patching the wall, slapping on some paint, and calling it “good nuff,” chiropractic locates the precise structural problem through x-ray and nervoscope technology, then resolves that problem through gentle manual manipulations called “adjustments.”
Putting the spine and joints back in their place…
- takes pressure of the nerves, allowing signals to flow freely and eliminating nerve and muscle spasms,
- releases the muscles that had tightened around the spine in order to support it, leading to immediate muscle relief and reduced inflammation,
- stops the process of bone and cartilage erosion, improving or preventing arthritis,
- makes it possible for all the parts of the body to do the work they’re supposed to do, instead of compromising to support the weakened adjacent parts, and
- frees the brain to communicate with the rest of the body via the spine, lessening other symptoms such as allergies, a weakened immune system, headaches, low energy, poor athletic or sexual stamina, and many, many more.
No wonder chiropractors are the highest rated practitioners for back pain, above medical doctors and physical therapists. Medical doctors typically treat the symptom (pain). Physical therapists treat the areas surrounding the compromised structure (the muscles and joints). Only chiropractors fix the central structural problem so that the surrounding areas heal properly and the pain goes away on its own.
Chiropractic is a natural, safe solution to your problem, not a quick-fix for your symptoms.
If you’re like most people, you’d like to live a happy, energized life, where your body will allow you do what you love without pain and inhibition. Taking prescription medications, stress eating, and straining your body through the wrong stretches are not the solutions for you. You might escape the pain for a while. It might even seem the pain goes away after a time.
But think about it this way: if a tornado siren sounded, and the sky turned green and tumultuous, you wouldn’t ignore these danger signals. You would heed them. You wouldn’t shut the blinds and turn the TV up. You would grab some emergency supplies and bolt for the basement.
When your body is crying out, don’t ignore it. Don’t just swallow more ibuprofen and turn the TV up. Head for the safest, most effective place to deal with this kind of danger. A trustworthy chiropractor has the best possible solution for back pain.
If you’re still unsure, for those of you looking for a chiropractor in Durham, NC, we invite you to come in for a free consultation. For those are a little more far-flung, search for a Gonstead chiropractor near you and check reviews to make sure you’re dealing with a reliable practitioner. Ask for a consultation, and come in with all your pressing questions. I’m convinced you’ll be convinced.
Don’t just take my word for it. Watch Tom tell his story about dealing with back pain for five years because he thought it was “normal.”