Though low back pain is not always making headlines, it is the world’s single leading cause of disability – 8 in 10 people will experience it at some point in their lives – and one of Americans’ biggest health problems: one quarter of U.S. adults report having low back pain at least one whole day over the past three months. According to a survey conducted by the National Institute of Health Statistics, low back pain was the most common type of chronic pain experienced by U.S. adults (28.4%), followed by migraine and headache (16.6%) and neck pain (15.1%). In their search for help treating this debilitating condition, Americans spend at least $50 billion every year – and that doesn’t include the costs of lost productivity and other indirect costs.
Despite the prevalence of chronic low back pain, many patients are still unaware of the growing number of benefits chiropractic care offers, backed by more and more research studies that confirm the efficacy of this non-narcotic, non-surgical route to treating low back pain. Through proper chiropractic adjustments performed by licensed therapists, patients will not only be able to control the source of pain, but also experience improvement in their mood, activity performance, sleep, ability to work, and enjoyment of life. Following are five reasons why chiropractic care is the best option for back pain sufferers:
#1. Chiropractic allows you to avoid surgery.
No surgery is risk-free, but when it is performed near the spine, heart, or other vital organs, the risks and complications that can emerge are even higher. A large number of patients undergoing back pain surgery have reported over the years problems ranging from the anesthetic administered before the operation to sexual dysfunction and pseudoarthritis. Aside from the fact that some spinal interventions are simply unsuccessful (and you can end up with even more pain than before), there is an increased risk of thrombophlebitis, lung problems, infection, hardware fracture, spinal cord injury, transitional syndrome, and a whole range of mechanical dysfunctions.
At the other end, spinal manipulation and chiropractic care are considered a safe and more effective alternative to addressing and managing low back pain. A growing body of research has shown that, without going under the knife, patients with back pain, neck pain, migraines, as well as osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia,have responded incredibly well to deep tissue massage and lumbar disc decompression. Moreover, a recent article featured in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) recommends chiropractic treatment, as well as acupuncture, physical therapy, and exercise, before considering invasive procedures for back pain.
#2. Chiropractic prevents future pain episodes better than conventional treatments.
A 2011 study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine looked at the development of work-related low back pain in 894 patients, from their first episode of pain through their entire health care maintenance period. The results were nothing short of surprising: “In our study, after controlling for demographics and severity indicators, the likelihood of recurrent disability due to LBP for recipients of services during the health maintenance care period by all other provider groups was consistently worse when compared with recipients of health maintenance care by chiropractors. Care from chiropractors during the disability episode (“curative”), during the health maintenance care period (main exposure variable, “preventive”), and the combination of both (curative and preventive) was associated with lower disability recurrence HRs (hazard ratio).”
In other words, chiropractic care is more effective at addressing future episodes of back pain compared with conventional treatments. Patients exposed to spinal manipulations during the maintenance period (following the initial treatment of their condition) have reported a significant reduction in disability recurrence, compared to patients who underwent standard procedures, considered by many experts of dubious efficacy and with unproven cost utility value.
#3.Chiropractic addresses all age groups with the same effectiveness.
Teens, pregnant women, the elderly – the age groups with the highest likelihood to suffer from low back pain – have all responded well to chiropractic treatments over the years.
It was recently demonstrated that a significant percentage (85) of women who sought assistance for pelvic and back pain relief from chiropractors during pregnancy noticed improvements in their symptoms: 52% percent said they were feeling better after just one week since treatment, with the reduction in pain and disability increasing with time – 70% after one month and 85% after three months reporting improvement.
Of the 5% of older U.S. adults who frequently utilize alternative and complementary care treatments, a large part needs it for addressing musculoskeletal pain (often low back pain). However, ongoing chiropractic care has been proven effective in the prevention of disease, treatment of illness and injury, and maintenance of health in those ages 65 and older.
Even teenagers can benefit from visiting a chiropractor on a regular basis. Although there may not be any complaints of neck or low back pain just yet, many teenagers have already allowed poor posture habits to set in and could use regular chiropractic care to fix existing misalignments and ensure a perfect posture. Such treatments are also recommended for teenagers who carry a heavy load on their backs or for those who play high-impact sports.
#4.Chiropractic is significantly cheaper than other treatments for low back pain.
The cost of treating chronic pain can be high, but in America, it can be obscenely expensive. A lot has been discussed about the ridiculously expensive health care in America, and how everything costs more here than in the rest of the world, from hospital stays and drugs to physical exams and even doctors’ education. So choosing a cost-effective treatment for a condition as serious as low back pain is crucial for most sufferers, who cannot afford to pay the exorbitant costs of spinal surgery ($50,000-$150,000) or spend hundreds of dollars on pain medication each month just to get a break from the debilitating pain.
Compared to conventional treatment methods, chiropractic care is costing patients significantly less in annual health-care costs. According to a ChiroNexus article reporting the findings of an in-depth study conducted by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, patients for whom chiropractic care accounted for 75 percent of alternative therapy use saved $800/year, with the more important savings resulting from avoiding unnecessary procedures, exams, invasive interventions, and expensive medication.
#5. Chiropractic improves your general well-being by addressing other health problems, as well.
Although chiropractic is generally suggested as an effective treatment option mostly to patients with back, joint, and neck pain, specialists have seen improvements in the symptoms of several other health disorders and chronic diseases. Although it’s still early to claim that organic diseases can be permanently treated with chiropractic techniques, we can clearly see that it does improve the quality of life of patients dealing with one of the following:
- Migraine: A randomized clinical trial of 123 migraine sufferers conducted by Australian researchers found that 22 percent of patients experienced significant reduction of their symptoms (over 60 percent) during the course of chiropractic treatment. Another 50 percent of patients reported noticeable improvement, either in the frequency or the intensity of migraine episodes, being allowed to reduce pain medication doses, as a result, of decreased pain.
- High blood pressure: Chiropractic adjustment has been shown to have the exact beneficial effect of two blood-pressure medications combined, without any of their adverse effects. The study, published in the Journal of Human Hypertension and reported by WebMD, brings hope to the 1 in 4 Americans suffering from hypertension and at risk of having a heart attack or stroke.
- Arthritis: Although it’s seen mostly in older individuals, arthritis (inflammation of the joint) affects people of any age: 350 million worldwide and 40 million in the U.S, including over 250,000 children. Mild symptoms include pain, stiffness in the joints, fever, and weight loss, but it can rapidly turn aggressive and impair sufferers’ vital functions. Chiropractic care can significantly improve range of motion, muscle tone and strength, as well as flexibility and endurance. In addition to spinal manipulation, chiropractors typically use massage therapy, ultrasound, and a wide range of rehabilitative exercises for treating arthritis.
- Anxiety and depression: Over 70 percent of the participants in a study published in the Journal of Vertebral Subluxation reported a “marked improvement” in their depressive episodes after undergoing treatment of the upper cervical misalignment. Currently, more than 19 million Americans struggle with depression and its most common manifestations, including low self-esteem, insomnia, oversleeping, fatigue, and weight disorders.
Chiropractic is more than alternative medicine, and its practitioners are more than physicians. Multi-skilled and geared towards providing effective natural pain relief methods, they specialize not only in the anatomy of the human body, but also in its engineering and geometry. Rather than relying on drugs and surgery, chiropractors resort to mathematics and physics to rearrange the spine and restore patients’ well-being.
If you have been struggling with debilitating back pain or you simply want to stimulate your body’s natural healing capabilities in order to prevent illness and increase your quality of life, visiting a chiropractic office may be the simplest and most effective way of achieving such goals. Contact your local chiropractic center to learn how alternative medicine can significantly improve all functions of your life.
About the Author:
Dr. Marc Browner practices at Windmill Health Center in Weston, Florida. A graduate of the University of Florida, he earned his Doctor of Chiropractic degree in 1995. In private practice since 1998, Dr. Browner is a member of the Florida Chiropractic Society, the Florida Chiropractic Association, and he attends continuing education seminars, classes, and workshops to remain abreast of the most current treatment methods and technological advances in the field.