Back pain is common – but it’s not normal. And it doesn’t have to be a way of life. Medication might take away some of the pain temporarily, but if you really want to FIX the problem, you should try a Gonstead chiropractor.
Back pain is one of the most common reasons people visit a doctor’s office. More than half of all adults are bothered by low back pain every year.
But here’s the good news: just because something is common does not mean it is normal.
No matter what your age, pain in your back is a signal that something is wrong – and if we can find and fix that underlying problem, then the pain goes away.
Chiropractic cannot fix every health problem under the sun, but it is remarkably effective with helping back pain. In particular, the Gonstead technique has an impressive track record for helping people get out of pain without addictive medication or risky surgery.
Dr. Martin is the only exclusively Gonstead chiropractor in Durham and has helped hundreds of people of all ages get to the root cause of their back pain. So if you are experiencing back pain and you’re not ready to accept that as “normal” in your life, then you’ve come to the right place.
What Causes Back Pain?
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.
The short answer to this question is that something’s out of place. When the segments of your spine shift out of normal position, nerves get pinched, discs pop out of place, vertebrae start grinding against each other. Therefore, the muscles surrounding the spine do everything they can to offer better support, meaning they get tight and knotted. The result? Pain.
How Does it Start?
So many people have back pain without really even knowing how it started. Thankfully, there is a growing awareness that back pain can be caused by simple, everyday things like poor posture, repetitive strain (sitting at a desk all day, looking down at a computer or phone), or even from childhood experiences like falling off the monkey bars.
Here’s the thing about the human body: it heals itself, and that’s a miraculous and wonderful thing. BUT… if it heals in the wrong position it will stay that way for a really long time. Picture this: as a kid, you fall off your bike. You cry a little and move on. Kids are resilient. Your vertebrae heal, but they’re a bit off kilter. Your young, flexible, and highly distracted body doesn’t notice a thing. But over the years, your misaligned joints or cartilage grind against each other and BAM! Back pain.
The results of back pain can be varied, and many of them may sound familiar to you: stiffness, pain, limited mobility, or even disability and depression. Untreated, even “minor” mis-alignments of the spine can result in arthritis, herniated disks, nerve or muscle spasms, and other serious problems.
What About Medication for Back Pain?
The conventional response to pain in our culture is medication. This is understandable: medicine offers a quick relief (sometimes!) and it is convenient. You pop a couple pills and move on with your day. But this is a Band-Aid approach. It’s like dabbing salve on a broken leg and hoping for the best. Or putting black tape over the check engine light in your car. You can cover up the problem, but eventually it will resurface. Many people medicate until the pain becomes so unbearable that they start to explore surgical options. One of Dr. Martin’s greatest joys as a chiropractor is helping people get off medications and avoid surgery.
Can Back Pain Go Away On Its Own?
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 click here to watch a video of his back pain story or click on the image below.)
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.
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.
Click on the image below to hear Tom’s experience with back pain and his review of Precision Chiropractic:
Can Yoga Help Back Pain?
Well, maybe. The answer depends on a lot of factors, like the source of back pain, the yoga positions you try, and whether you’re taking any other steps to try to resolve the pain.
Yoga can be really good for back pain. But because pain represents a deeper problem, yoga alone is not going to be a true solution. The structural issue needs to be addressed. If your muscles are tight, yoga may help loosen them, and you might even feel somewhat better. But the tight muscles are not the source of the problem. They are a side effect. If there’s a structural problem in your spine, the surrounding muscles are tightening up to protect that damaged area. Ultimately, the deeper problem is that your vertebrae aren’t aligned. And if they stay misaligned, your muscles will seize up again and your pain will persist.
Here’s a sign: if you’ve been doing yoga for a while and still have back pain, that should tell you there’s something else going on. A careful exam by a Gonstead chiropractor will be able to show you if your pain is coming from a structural problem in your spine. If so, that’s good news. You can get it fixed, and then enjoy all the benefits of yoga without the back pain.
One more note: If you feel like yoga is making your back pain worse, then STOP. This might sound obvious, but so many people just “push through” instead of listening to what their body is telling them. Here are a few general rules for yoga:
- If it hurts, stop doing it.
- Make sure you are doing each pose 100% correctly. Having a qualified instructor is crucial until you master the proper alignment for each pose. If you’re in Durham try Arrichion Hot Yoga.
- If you’re practicing without an instructor, video yourself practicing different poses. Then you can check to make sure they line up with professional recommendations.
- Start by holding each pose for only a few seconds. As you progress in the session, the poses can be held longer as your joints and muscles loosen.
- Move into and out of every pose slowly. Be attentive to discomfort and don’t push it.
- Don’t ever lock your joints, which disengages the muscles and puts pressure on the joints. Think soft knees, shoulders down.
- Do not twist or shift around in the middle of a pose. If you feel unstable, you need to move out of the pose as gently as possible.
How Does Chiropractic Fix the Cause of Back Pain?
At Precision Chiropractic, you are evaluated and treated using the Gonstead technique. Considered the “Gold Standard” of chiropractic care, Gonstead chiropractors are known for safe and precise adjustments.
The process begins with an X-ray, so we can see exactly where and what the problem is. We do not guess and we do not do regional adjustments here. Everything is specific, precise, and intentional.
Then, through gentle hands-on adjustments to the vertebrae, we begin putting things back where they belong. When the body has been out of sorts for a while, it will try to slip back into old habits, which is why multiple adjustments are vital to long-term healing and prevention. Roughly three months after your first visit, you should be feeling significantly better. We will take another X-ray so you can actually see the structural improvement.
Positions that Make Back Pain Worse:
Because the cause of every person’s back pain is unique, it’s impossible to say here what positions will help with your back pain. But, there are universal positions that are mechanically incorrect, and so when we avoid these positions, we help reduce back pain. Here are five common positions that can cause chronic back pain flare-ups.
- Sitting on a wallet
This shifts the foundation of your hips can can potentially pinch the sciatic nerve, causing pain to race down the side of the leg.
- Leaning on the arms of your desk chair
This puts pressure on the elbow, and raises our shoulder, which strains the muscles in our upper back, shoulders, and neck are strained and can exasperate back pain.
- Standing with weight on one leg
You know the position you assume when you’re waiting … say, in line at the grocery store? You cock one hip out to the side and then rest your weight on that hip. Stop doing that. Standing in that unbalanced position for long periods can compress nerves and also put pressure on your lower back. Instead, have soft knees and keep your core engaged to maintain your balance and a straight spine.
- High heels or shoes that pinch
Shoes with elevated heels prevent our body mechanics from moving naturally. Also when shoes don’t fit right—for example, the toe is too narrow or the length is too short—our feet don’t move correctly. Our body has to compensate in some way, and it compensates is by putting stress on the muscles and joints, which can cause or worsen pain in our back.
Back Pain Statistics (Infographic)
Sick of Debilitating Back Pain?
Can chiropractic help an athlete? Dr. Martin discusses a college athlete's lower back before and after care. To watch this on our YouTube channel click here.
Can a chiropractor help headaches? Here Dr. Martin explains how chiropractic can fix headaches, vertigo, and neck pain. To watch this on our YouTube channel click here.
Unless we are mandated to close for a period of time, or unless I get sick, I will keep the office open. I'll explain why and I'll let you know what we are doing in response to the concerns. Before I get to that, I'll mention something on a personal note... I am...