LOW BACK PAIN (LBP): one of the most common complaints seen by chiropractors. At McAndrew Chiropractic, we treat patients for LBP every day in our office.
• Worldwide, back pain is the single leading cause of disability, preventing many people from engaging in work as well as other everyday activities. (1)
• Back pain is one of the most common reasons for missed work. One-half of all working Americans admit to having back pain symptoms each year. (2)
• Back pain accounts for more than 264 million lost work days in one year—that’s two work days for every full-time worker in the country. (3)
• Experts estimate that up to 80% of the population will experience back pain at some time in their lives. (4)
• Back pain can affect people of all ages, from adolescents to the elderly. (4)
• Back pain is the third most common reason for visits to the doctor’s office, behind skin disorders and osteoarthritis/joint disorders. (5)
TYPES: Acute and Chronic
Acute pain is “New” pain. Acute pain can last 7-10 days before moving into subacute and chronic stages. This pain usually occurs after an incident or accident in which a patient gets hurt or injured. Most common modes of onset are weight lifting and car accidents as well as slip & falls. Acute pain can sharp and intense. Most of the time these patients can fully recover with care and time, usually 2-6 weeks.
Chronic pain is “Old” pain. This is pain that a patient has been experiencing for a period of months to years. The most common causes of chronic LBP are arthritis of lumbar facet joints and lumbar disc issues. According to Chiropractic Principles, our body has Limitations of Matter. This means that once a structure has sustained deterioration or break down, that structure most likely will never return back to 100%. Most of the time these include my aging patient population. With chronic pain, chiropractic care can improve the quality of life for these patients. However, most of the time we are managing this person’s pain and mobility, as 100% recovery is unlikely.
CAUSES: Muscle Strain, Ligament Sprain, Lumbar Facet Joint, Lumbar Disc Bulge or Herniation
TREATMENT: Chiropractic Adjustment, IST Table, Cold Laser, Stretching and Strengthening Exercises
When it comes to treatment, patients are always assessed first for severity of complaint with review of patient history and exam. Our exam always includes postural assessment, palpation, range of motion testing, and orthopedic testing. With findings from the health history and exam, an appropriate care plan is established. Most patients can benefit from chiropractic care and have good outcomes. However, some patients with severe injuries are referred out to urgent care, for x-rays/MRI, and/or surgical consult.
The most common treatment a chiropractor uses for treatment of LBP is the chiropractic adjustment. The chiropractor uses their hands or instrument to perform a spinal manipulation to improve mobility to a spinal joint. The chiropractic adjustment can help decrease pain, improve range of motion, and decrease muscle tension. At McAndrew Chiropractic, we use both manual and instrument techniques to adjust both acute and chronic pain patients.
The Intersegmental Traction (IST) Table is a great tool to help relive LBP. The patient lays face up on the table and the roller moves up and down the spine helping to decompress the spine. At the peak of the roller motion, the vertebrae are gently separated increasing disc space while opening facet joints and reducing muscle tension. We use this at McAndrew Chiropractic for both acute and chronic LBP patients.
Cold laser is a great option to help reduce pain and inflammation in soft tissue such as a muscle, tendon, ligament or disc. The cold laser can be used to treat both acute and chronic pain caused by soft tissue injuries. The cold laser can be used in conjunction with chiropractic care or a stand-alone treatment.
Another option that we use in conjunction with chiropractic care is stretching and strengthening exercises. We show patients how to stretch tight muscles and strengthen weak ones. These are shown to the patient, also having them also demonstrate the exercise so they can perform them between visits at home. This helps the patient have tools to control their pain or injury on their own.
As always, thanks for reading. You are always welcome at our office.
Dr. John McAndrew
1. Hoy D, March L, Brooks P, et al The global burden of low back pain: estimates from the Global Burden of Disease 2010 study Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases Published Online First: 24 March 2014. doi: 10.1136/annrheumdis-2013-204428
2. Vallfors B. Acute, Subacute and Chronic Low Back Pain: Clinical Symptoms, Absenteeism and Working Environment. Scan J Rehab Med Suppl 1985; 11: 1-98.
3. The Hidden Impact of Musculoskeletal Disorders on Americans, United State Bone and Joint Initiative, 2018.
4. Rubin Dl. Epidemiology and Risk Factors for Spine Pain. Neurol Clin. 2007; May;25(2):353-71.
5. Sauver, JL et al. Why patients visit their doctors: Assessing the most prevalent conditions in a defined American population. Mayo Clinic Proceedings, Volume 88, Issue 1, 56–67