Your back hurts?
Here’s a reasonable course of action:
Step 1. Wait. Does it just go away on it’s own within a few day? If so, great. If not…
Step 2. Home Care. Does stretching it or putting a heat pad or ice pack on it make the pain go away? If so, great. If not…
Step 3. Go to the chiropractor. If after one to three sessions for whatever reason your pain is not significantly diminished and you are not armed with the knowledge of what is causing the pain and provided with a method to address the issue on your own, then perhaps try…
Step 4. Painkillers/Muscle Relaxers. These should “do the trick” if the trick you want done is for a drug to hide your pain and relax your muscles. Just understand that pain is a useful signal and your muscles may very well be tight as a way for your body to protect your back from further injury. But these pills may certainly make you feel better. If pain is your only concern and healthy bio-mechanics and spinal health is not something you care about, then by all means next time just start at Step 4. If drug use for your back pain becomes a chronic problem and your pain is severe enough to be debilitating, then perhaps consider…
Step 5. Orthopedic or Surgical Consult. Not much fun at all.
The above steps are not terribly complicated. Most people do not follow that logical path. Most people do something like this:
1. Hurt themselves via injury or via laziness and de-conditioning.
2. Ignore the pain and continue to hurt or de-conditional themselves.
3. Try drugs to make the pain “go away”.
4. If drugs do not work well enough, skip all non-invasive or conservative methods and go straight to your Primary Care Provider who will probably have no clue what to do and whom will then refer you to a PT (a reasonable thing to do) or an orthopedist. If a course of physical therapy doesn’t make the pain “go away” then surgery is on the menu.
The American Association of Family Physicians, the American Medical Association, and numerous other organizations recognize chiropractic care and physical rehabilitation as an appropriate and safe first-line conservative approach to effectively treat lower back pain (and neck pain). Still, less than 8% of people in the United States see a chiropractor. Most choose the “easy” route of drugs or denying a problem exists. They then mask the symptoms until they are so severe that surgery is the only option, or they just do nothing at all until it’s so bad there are very few options.
Do yourself a favor and if you are experiencing lower back pain, especially if it’s possibly disc or nerve related and is causing pain into the legs or buttocks, go to see a chiropractor (or even a PT or a massage therapist) and treat your very real and potentially very troubling pain in a responsible and conservative manner so that you preserve the useful life of your spine and don’t end up shuffling around when you’re 65 years old and unable to enjoy your retirement because you were too young and dumb or busy or whatever to make a better choice in your 20’s, 30’s or 40’s.