Have you ever seen anyone with that bent over posture and funny walk that screams “I’m in severe pain!”? For me, it is a common occurrence. After all, helping people with their neck and back problems is what I do. Just yesterday, someone came practically crawling into my Pompano Beach chiropractic office.
You might be wondering, “Is there anything that you can do for such severe low back pain?”. I mean, shouldn’t someone with such extreme pain go to the hospital? Before I answer that, let me first explain the usual cause for the problem.
By the time someone can’t stand up straight, the problem has probably been there for a long time. Sure, the pain may have started only hours before crippling them in pain. But the weakness has probably been there for years.
The typical case history that I hear goes something like this:
Q: When did it start?
A: “Yesterday I was moving a piece of furniture. I felt something change in my back; but I thought it would go away. It got worse and worse. Then, when I woke up this morning, I couldn’t move.”
Q: What have you tried for it?
A: “I put heat on it. It felt a little better for a while, but once I took the heat off, it only got worse. I was thinking about going to go to the hospital.”
NOTE: Putting heat on a new problem can increase the inflammation and pain significantly. Do not put heat on a new injury.
Q: What makes it feel better and what makes it worse?
A: “I took anti-inflammatories and pain relievers, but they didn’t help a bit”
NOTE: Your structural problem may be severe. Medicine won’t fix structural problems. Properly prescribed medicine might help diminish the symptoms, but a structural problem needs to be addressed structurally.
So what causes such extreme low back pain? In a nutshell, the answer is “inflammation”. But what caused the inflammation? Oh, that’s easy… activity that was greater than the persons ability. You see, usually there is a structural weakness like a dehydrated or herniated disc. Then, someone stresses the weak part of the spine. Because it is weak, tissues separate. When tissues separate, they bleed inflammation. The inflammation takes of a space in the joints between the vertebrae and causes pain and what we call “antalgia”; that means that the patient stands in a funny posture because doing otherwise would cause more pain.
NOTE: Heat increases the inflammation… which is why you don’t put heat on a new injury.
So what can a chiropractor do to address such a severe low back pain? Chiropractors are trained to help people with structural and functional spine problems. Chiropractors can even gently adjust patients that have severe pain. A chiropractic exam that may include X-rays will be performed prior to any treatments however.
In addition to a chiropractic “adjustment”, chiropractors may use any of several modalities to help with the pain and inflammation. These may include Electrical Muscle Stimulation, Acupuncture, trigger point therapy, massage, ultrasound, stretching techniques, and more.
A chiropractor will probably help a patient identify things that can interfere with healing. This may include diet and exercise advice, posture training, and the likes of. There are certainly exercises that can help someone who seemingly can’t move because of the pain.
When someone has acute severe low back pain, early intervention and chiropractic treatment can help a patient more fully recover in a shorter time. It is not uncommon for a patient to leave feeling 30 to 50% better after their first “emergency” visit. It is also not uncommon for them to feel completely healed within 5 to 10 days. But remember, feeling better doesn’t mean the weakness has been fixed. Restoring a spine to normal and then maintaining a healthy spine… and a healthy body for that matter, is a lifetime commitment.