Lower Back Pain Treatment: An East Greenwich RI Chiropractor’s Perspective
Up to 80% of all people will suffer from low back pain at some point in their life. Low back pain is so common in the United States that it is the #1 cause of disability. It is our sedentary lifestyle, sitting for extended periods whether for work or leisure, that deteriorates our core strength and leads to low back pain. Low back pain in East Greenwich RI may be common, but it is not normal. That is why it’s so important to treat low back pain immediately because it is a sign that more serious dysfunction is at play.
There are two kinds of low back pain - acute and chronic. Acute low back pain happens with a sudden onset, something you might feel the next day or even right away, and is usually the result of physical activity like lifting a box, doing laundry, or picking up your kids. It's important to address acute low back pain immediately because it is a sign of sudden stress and damage in the anatomy of the low back or spine that can lead to a host of issues down the road. Many patients will hurt their low back and report that it never felt the same after that initial injury. That’s because they left the issue unaddressed for so long and it turned into a chronic condition. Chronic low back pain lasts anywhere longer than two to three months and is continuously a part of your life. Not only does chronic pain take up mental real estate clouding cognitive abilities and leading to frustration and despair, but it often gets worse over time.
There are a lot of important structures in the spine that can contribute to low back pain. Our muscles create motion in the spine and when you hurt your low back it is often the result of a muscle strain or muscle pull where the muscle has overstretched and is now inflamed and painful. Ligaments work with the muscles. They are the little fibers that hold the spine together, almost like the strings of a puppet. While the muscles move the strings to create motion, the ligaments stabilize the spine. Damage to the ligaments will create instability which increases the likelihood of injury. Another important piece of anatomy in the low back is the joints. The joints are where the bones meet and their health dictates the spine’s range of motion, its stability, and how well it’s functioning. The joints also sense pain, making problems in the joints of the spine a major cause of low back pain. Spinal discs are the cushion in between the spinal bones. They provide resistance to compression and make room for your spinal nerves to communicate signals between your brain and your body. The disc is also one of the most pain-sensitive parts of spinal anatomy. The sinuvertebral nerve is so pain-sensitive that when it is injured, by a disc bulge or herniation, the pain has been compared to giving birth.
How We Treat Lower Back Pain in East Greenwich RI
Comprehensive Consultation and Exam
We’ll start where we always start with new patients, a comprehensive consultation and exam. The only way to do a thorough consultation is to really listen to you to understand your concerns and frustrations so that we’re able to address each and every one. We want to know what symptoms you're feeling, what makes it better and what makes it worse.
Then, we'll do chiropractic, functional, orthopedic, and neurological exams to physically test the body and the different anatomy of the spine. These tests help us determine the source of the problem so we can address the underlying issue and not just the symptoms. Getting to the root cause of the problem is paramount so that even if you’re feeling pain in the legs or arms we understand that is just a symptom of the main problem in your lower back.
Specific Chiropractic Care in East Greenwich RI
Chiropractors are specifically trained to address subluxations. Subluxations are misalignments in the spine that place pressure on the nerves and interfere with the normal communication of those nerve signals. This interference results in pain and dysfunction throughout the body, including muscle tension or weakness.
By addressing these misalignments, correcting them and taking pressure off the nerves, we allow your spine to function properly. We know that proper function and structure in your spine are what make the difference when it comes to the pain you’re experiencing. It also prevents the Low Back Groundhog Day, where problems return again and again.
Custom Therapeutic Exercise Plan
An exercise plan that is tailored to your specific condition and needs will help strengthen and stabilize healthy spinal structure and address muscle weakness and imbalance. The best part about the exercise plans at Greenwich Bay Chiropractic is they are done through an online portal with video tutorials so you’ll never be lost or confused. This at-home exercise plan will bolster the work we’re doing in the office so that the corrections to your misalignments, those subluxations in your spine, can hold for a longer period of time, giving you more time to heal and get on top of your symptoms.
Spinal Decompression in East Greenwich RI
Spinal Decompression focuses on the anatomy of the spinal disc. Discs act as shock absorbers in the spine. They have a fibrous exterior with a gelatinous interior. It’s important to maintain healthy discs, otherwise, you are prone to a disc bulge or a disc herniation. When the exterior fibers of the disc tear, the gelatinous nucleus pushes on the nerves and causes a whole host of issues including but not limited to major pain, numbness, tingling, and even weakness all the way down into your feet.
Decompression creates negative pressure forcing the disc back into its proper place and removing pressure off of the nerve. This relief of pressure allows the body to heal. We use spinal decompression in conjunction with adjustments and exercise to create a three-phase treatment protocol that will allow you to get the best results possible.
Common Causes of Low Back Pain
Bulged Lumbar Disc
This is the number one cause of low back pain. Spinal discs are the shock absorbers in between each vertebra that provide space for the nerves to exit the spine and innervate the different parts of the body. It consists of a fibrous exterior and a gelatinous interior. When the disc bulges, the exterior fibers have torn and the gelatinous nucleus begins taking the path of least resistance. As the disc bulges, it irritates the nearby nerves. This type of disc damage over time causes further wear and tear and dehydrates the disc.
Eventually, this can cause low back pain that can radiate down the legs. If the fibers in the disc tear enough, the disc can actually herniate, the nucleus breaks free from the disc and applies direct pressure to the nerves. It is so important to get these issues addressed quickly. If left unchecked, and damage continues to ensue, surgery may be necessary.
Degenerative Disc Disease
This is a wear and tear-related condition, typically related to old age, when the discs begin to break down and lose their cushioning. Obesity, smoking, and work that is hard on the spine, exacerbate this problem. That is why we can see different levels of degeneration at different ages. Degenerative disc disease can't be reversed, but it can be slowed. Once you have degenerative disc disease, it’s critical to maintain and take care of the situation to keep it from getting any worse. If symptoms get worse, they will inevitably interfere with more and more parts of your life.
In the low back, muscle strain is dull and achy and can intensify with movement. Typically localized to the low back, strains are caused by sudden activity or over time with repetitive motions, poor posture, or weak core muscles. Muscle strains usually resolve themselves, but it’s still important to get it checked early as it could be a symptom of something more serious going on in your spine.
Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction
Another cause of low back pain is sacroiliac joint dysfunction. The sacroiliac joint is where the sacrum, the lowest part of the spine, meets the pelvis. 15% to 30% of low back pain cases are caused by sacroiliac joint dysfunction. This joint dysfunction can be caused by leg length discrepancy, pregnancy, and repeated stress on the joints. Hypermobility or hypomobility in the joints are also possible as a result of spinal dysfunction.
Facet Joint Dysfunction
The facet joints are where the vertebrae meet. The cartilage inside the facet joint can break down and become inflamed. This dysfunction is aggravated by bending backward, extension, or standing for long periods.
Frequently Asked Questions
When your lower back pain is persistent, getting worse, or happens intermittently over time, it's important to address the root cause of why this is happening in the first place to be able to effectively treat the issue.
There are a few things that you can do on your own. Some simple low back stretching exercises, applying ice and/or heat, and rest can all help relieve lower back pain. That being said, it is important to get your spine checked out by a qualified chiropractor to determine the root cause of what's going on with you. A more specific diagnosis will help you better treat the pain.
There are many things that cause lower back pain. It could be related to a muscle issue, a disc issue, or a joint issue; it could be a result of poor posture, your work environment, or even stress. Stress on the lower back accumulates over time and pain can be triggered by the simple act of lifting something heavy, doing a load of laundry, or another repetitive physical task.
It’s difficult to tell the root cause of lower back pain without the help of a chiropractor. Pain off to the side of the spine is most often associated with the muscles, while pain in the center of the spine is related to the discs. That being said, discs can bulge and herniate irritating the nerves that exit the spine and control the muscles along the side of the back and down into the legs. Prompt examination by a chiropractor will help determine the source of the pain and stop it from doing further damage.
A slipped disc can manifest anywhere from mild to severe to excruciating pain, most often the pain is severe. A “slipped” disc is typically a result of a bulging disc placing pressure on the nerves that exit the low back. It is critical to take care of this quickly so that it doesn’t continue to cause extensive damage in your spine.
Chiropractic care for low back pain is an extremely safe and effective option that does not require the use of drugs or surgery. It is often seen as the last resort, but it is actually a great first option.
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