We received a lot of viewer questions when it comes to body manipulation to help with pain.
Ashlea Marie: “Is it healthy to take your child to a chiropractor or a massage therapist? I know some moms are taking their 4-year-olds.”
Randy Aten-Allen: “I have a horrible back, and all my doctors tell me to stay away from chiropractors. Why is that? I just want some relief from this pain without pain medications.”
Kris Kelley: “I have herniated discs, degeneration, inflammation, muscles aches and I go to the chiropractor...I get some relief but doesn't last long...my same question as Randy???? Am I doing more harm by having these adjustments?”
Ok, this might sound bad, but doctors often discount what they don't understand. If it was not taught to them in school, it must not be true. Well, I am going to tell you that an open mind is the greatest tool for medicine. Not everything can be explained, and maybe, it shouldn't be. When it comes to musculoskeletal problems, I have an extremely open mind, not because I am a D.O., but from the fact that I have suffered from a severe back problem for years. I have been blessed with doctors that have skills beyond prescribing medications or doing surgery; they can manipulate the back. I won't go into the history of the Osteopathic or Chiropractic theories, but I will say that they both were born out of need. Medicine was lacking some essential theories when both schools of thought evolved, but time has proven the theories as fact. I will not argue one school over another, but I will encourage you to keep an open mind when the need arises.
According to the Mayo Clinic, almost every person in the United States will experience low back pain at least once in their lifetime.
The most common cause for back pain is improper use. Either we aren't ready to move, or do it in an improper way. The majority of the causes of back pain are related to not being in good shape. As we age, most of us don't exercise daily. This causes the abdominal and back muscles to get weaker. Our poor posture further weakens the low back muscles setting us up for that awkward move that instantly sends our backs into spasm. Of course the other thing is lifting improperly. Not using our legs to lift, or not asking for help.
Symptoms from back injuries vary from mild to severe. Majority of us will have self-limiting injuries, where rest and stretching will fix the problem. But for some, it is a major life changing experience. It is the number one reason people see a doctor, and is probably the number one injury that leads to addiction of pain medicine. Narcotic pain medications do not treat the back injury. They only affect the brain, allowing your body to ignore the pain. Often this can cause more damage, because pain limits what you do, and protects your back from further injury.
The discs between your vertebrae are like shock absorbers. They can weaken and bulge. Sometimes even rupture or herniate. It is interesting to note, that not all bulges or herniated discs cause problems. Up to 1/3 of the general population has bulging discs without symptoms.
The best thing you can do for your back is to prevent the injury. Daily exercises and stretching will strengthen the back. "Core exercises" that work on the abdominal muscles in conjunction with low back exercises work best. Pilates and Yoga have been found to strengthen the core muscles, and decrease back injuries.
If you have injured your back, here are a few things to help lessen the pain Osteopathic manipulation (OMT) is performed by DO's. It has been proven to not only lessen back pain, but also correct some of the causes for both acute and chronic back pain. Often treatment alleviates the need for medication completely. Chiropractic manipulation has also proven itself to be beneficial. While there are differences in philosophy, the results cannot be argued. What I find most interesting, is that fact that manipulation is now being taught in Allopathic (MD) schools. There are several allopathic (MD) physicians that not only believe that the therapy is beneficial, but also have practices that utilize techniques to alleviate back pain. (DRX 9000).
- DRX 9000
Who should not have manipulation:
- Greater than 70 caution with neck manipulation
- Post surgery - joint replacement
- Extremely young children - need specialized manipulation (under the age of 4)
- Acetaminophen - Tylenol
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories - Ibuprofen (Motrin/Advil), naproxen (Aleve)
- Muscle relaxants - flexiril, skelaxin
- Anti-depressants - low dose amitriplyline
Physical therapy and exercise
- Ice, heat
- Injections into the muscle - trigger points
- Injections in to the discs - epidural injections with steroids
- Surgery - reserved for treatment failures or unrelenting pain associated with radiating to the leg, progressive muscle weakness, or bowel or bladder involvement.
- Partial disc removal
- Partial removal of the vertebra
AOA.org, Pcomsociety.com,Mayo Clinic.com, NINDS.org, NIH.org