So…you’re lower back hurts?

Your back hurts?

Frederick chiropractor for low back pain
Look like you?

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 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.

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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.

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The American Association of Family Physicians, the American Medical Association, and numerous other organizations recognize chiropractic care 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.

Frederick Pain Management or a Chiropractor

If you’re thinking of going to a pain management clinic, then think about this:

First Visit

You will probably get a painkiller. Probably as in 90% positive.

You will probably get a muscle relaxer. Probably as in like 75%.

You will then feel better, but not actually be any better.

Following Visits

You will probably get epidural injections.

You will probably get your prescriptions for painkillers and muscle relaxers managed.

You may get referred to physical therapy.

Yo probably won’t get referred to a chiropractor, because the chiropractor would get the patient better and then the pain management clinic would lose business.

That being said, all pain management clinics aren’t the same. Some are great and aren’t just drug dispensaries. If you aren’t going to try chiropractic, then go to a physical therapist. And then if that doesn’t work try pain management.

The Dreaded High Shoulder

Have you ever woken up in the morning with one of your shoulders sort of sticking up, unable to relax, and painful to move?

I haven’t, but plenty of my patients have.

I’ll be honest: I’m not sure why on Earth this happens to people most of the time. Even the person with the high shoulder usually doesn’t have any idea why they can’t relax their shoulder, and why it hurts so much. Most people shrug the good shoulder and say something like “Well, I guess I slept wrong”.

Which brings up a great question: How is sleeping so complicated that adults are still doing it wrong? Beats me!

Still, this dreaded high shoulder exists and it inflicts millions of Americans every year (that is a crude estimation based on nothing more than guesswork, by the way).

What I do know is that your nervous system controls and coordinates all the activity in your body, including your neck and shoulder muscles. And I also know that an adjustment to the area in question usually gets that shoulder to settle down and relax and become much more comfortable. So, if you are dealing with this problem, give us a call and maybe we can make that shoulder go back where it belongs.

First Very Cold Morning in Frederick

Well, it’s Monday, and if that isn’t bad enough it was 36 degrees when I walked outside.

Many of us are in a bit more discomfort in the colder months of the year for a few reasons.

  1. It’s just plain cold. Our muscles are tight and we tend to take on a fetal position to hold in body warmth. While this may feel warmer, it isn’t the best posture!
  2. We exercise less when it’s cold. Maybe this is because no one can see the flab when we have a sweater on, or because it’s just too darn cold to go running. Either way, we all tend to get less physical activity when it’s this cold out.
  3. The holidays means that even if we keep exercising we are probably going to be eating too much rich, fatty food and packing on some extra pounds. Any time we bulk up our frame with chunk rather than muscle, the body is not happy.

So, on this frosty Monday morning I encourage all of our patients to do their best to keep their activity levels up this Winter, to watch their diets and not give in to the desire to pig out, and to try to keep that Summer posture even though it feels nice to curl up into a tiny little warm ball.

And don’t be this guy…that’s not how a snow angel is supposed to look.

winter cold

So… my back hurts. Now what?

Pretty much all of us will experience back pain now and again. As a matter of fact, many of us will endure crippling, stabbing back pain, even pain or numbness into the butt or legs.

Another fact is that most people pay very little attention to the physical health of their backs or necks until things are really starting to hurt. That’s why so many people have their first visit to a “back doctor” be a visit to the orthopedic surgeon or neurosurgeon. Of all the “back doctors” to see first, those should not be on your list.

pain descriptive words

I’ll be honest, chiropractic is GREAT for treating simple low back pain. Good ol’ regular biomechanical low back pain responds GREAT to chiropractic adjustments. Countless research studies in proper, well-respected medical journals have confirmed this. Some of that research is here, but that’s not the point of this article.

You have a few things you can try first. Like everyone else in the world, your first attempt at fixing something should probably be a relatively inexpensive option that has the smallest likelihood possible for something bad to happen.

You can try any one of these things:

Chiropractor Visits
Course of Physical Therapy Sessions
Acupuncture
Massage Therapy
Ice or Heat
Stretching or Exercise
Painkillers
NSAID’s
Steroid Injections
Nerve Block
Spinal Surgery

Looking at this list, we can tell right off the bat that some of these are easier, safer and less expensive than others.

Stretching or exercising is free. It’s not necessarily easy, especially if you are in pain, but it’s one way to go. Massage and acupuncture are both safe and natural, so they are good places to start if you want to avoid drugs. Physical Therapy, depending on your therapist, is probably going to be mostly or somewhat natural, and besides needing to have you come in three times a week so they can watch you exercise, it’s a great way to recondition your out-of-shape back.

Painkillers and NSAID’s are, well, drugs. So if you are trying to get the back pain monkey off your back without drugs, they aren’t going to be on the list. For what it’s worth, painkillers will probably do something to get rid of the pain. Of course, when they wear off, you will be back in pain. NSAID’s may be able to deal with the injury in your back by reducing the inflammation, and this may get the pain to disappear for a while even after the medicine has left your system. The problem here is that NSAID’s aren’t safe for everyone, and even if they work for you and are safe for you, whatever caused the inflammation (and therefore the pain) in the first place is still probably causing inflammation just like before, and it’s only time before the pain returns (probably worse).

Nerve blocks and surgery are very poor first-lines-of-defense if your back pain is non-emergency and non-traumatic. In other words, if your back hurts because your posture sucks and you never exercise, then a nerve block isn’t the right way to go unless you are into injuring yourself on purpose. And surgery obviously shouldn’t be on your Christmas list, either.

Since a chiropractor is the author of this article, you can bet I saved chiropractic for last because I was saving the best for last. And it is. Chiropractic is great for so much more than back and neck pain, but our bread and butter is helping people get rid of back or neck pain. People (who have never been adjusted before) are almost always surprised at how effective chiropractic is. The reason chiropractic is so effective is because you and me have bodies that are designed to function normally, and a chiropractic adjustment takes a screwy spine and, for lack of a better description, straightens that spine out. Then the spine works better…and then it doesn’t hurt any more. Rather than cover the pain with medicine we adjust the body so that it will work normally, and since normal function is supposed to be pain-free, the client typically feels better. It’s not magic, it’s actually basic physics, a touch of the basics of mechanics, and some rudimentary biology. The body is supposed to work normally, and without pain, so sometimes it just needs to be pushed back in the right direction.

So, if you want to be pushed in that direction, give us a call. Thanks for reading. -Rob