Due to the fact that somewhere in our distant past, man went from a four legged shuffle to a two-legged walk, the sudden need for Chiropractors rose dramatically. This was that turning point in history when low back problems would forever be a serious possibility for everyone. Now add athletic activities to the recipe, maybe even a pinch of poor conditioning and a cup full of improper exercise, and suddenly the low back syndrome has become an epidemic.
Despite the fact that low back injuries are one of the leading causes of disability in this country today, it isn’t necessary to just accept this gloomy prognosis and “hope” that you aren’t one of the chosen many that will suffer in your lifetime. Based on the fact low back problems are probably the most common condition that Chiropractors see, we have become very good at knowing what a patient “should do” and “shouldn’t do.” And, the true problems usually arise because most people mis-manage their condition and don’t seek proper help until they have reached the “crisis state.”
The first things that I tell patients is that their back is just like their fingerprint-unique. “No one has one just like yours.” Even though some generalities could be beneficial, all conditions require specific recommendations in order to get the best results. To take only a couple of Doan’s pills to get you through the day borders on insanity.
Now, what are the symptoms that might suggest that a low back program id brewing? Usually, symptoms range from pain and spasms in the low back to tingling, numbness or pain down one or both legs. The pattern of the symptoms can vary greatly; for example, it may get worse with activity or it may get better with activity. It may be constant in nature or intermittent. It may be worse in the morning or worse in the evening. Whatever the pattern is, again, is unique to each person. It is always extremely beneficial if the patient can answer “What caused the problem?, What type of pain do you have?, What helps it or what hurts its? and What have you done for treatment at this point?”. The more information that can be provided, again, the more specific the diagnosis and treatment plan can be.
While performing your own “home consultation/examination and treatment program,” it is always good to know what not to do, because the majority of time and money is spent to get someone better by is spent on undoing the damage that the home treatment has done. Heat, whether moist or dry, should never be used in the acute stage no matter how good it feels at the time. Short term answer relief at the expense of long term correction will keep people not only in pain, but also broke. Don’t pour fuel on the fire. Secondly, never try to exercise through the symptoms. If every symptom is looked at like a sprained ankle, and assuming that we all agree that running on a sprained ankle is bad, then the most people can rationalize why they shouldn’t exercise through symptoms. Rather, focus on whatever is necessary to alleviate the condition and leave the e condition and leave the exercising for the appropriate time. Finally, the last “don’t” is, don’t just mask the pain. Never take a medication to relieve symptoms without knowing what the true cause is. I believe the most people who exercise are sincerely concerned for their physical health, so don’t allow your structure to be treated as such a lack of respect. As soon as problems arise, get a thorough structural evaluation. X-rays are usually necessary to rule out any pathologies or diseases, but be sure they are taken in the standing position. Since most of us run and exercise on our feet vs. lying down, it might seem logical to be x-rayed in the weight bearing position to find out where the structural balances occur. Usually, back problems are not a one time ordeal. After the cause is determined be willing to rehabilitate the spine to keep your back in condition. After all, if you quit exercising how long will your body stay in condition? So, why would you think that your back will have a lifetime guarantee after only a month of some respect? The truth is, your back requires a lifetime of respect and concern. The day that a person no longer feels the need or want to keep their back conditioned is the day the condition starts to regress.
Finally, remember, most back problems didn’t come overnight. Any doctor that leads you to believe that in one week you should be “cured” will probably have a lifetime of patient if you believe him. The true alleviation of back problems comes about only with daily respect, elimination of bad habits, a willingness to exercise and/or receive appropriate treatment and the knowledge of “what to do” if symptoms should start to reappear. Anything short of that will seldom work. Whichever route you should choose, good luck and have a great month.
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