Millions of people around the world suffer from lower back pain, a condition that can affect motor functionality, posture, and quality of life in general. Traditionally, lower back pain has been treated with medication when the condition is thought to be transient; unfortunately, painkillers only deal with some of the symptoms, and they could have common adverse effects such as straining liver functions and even creating dependence among many patients.
Advanced surgical procedures that feature the insertion of robotic devices to correct spinal deficiencies are beginning to emerge in this regard, and they may at some point reduce the mass prescription of pain medications, but the involvement of chiropractors to treat back pain is something that patients continue to actively seek because it is a solution that works out in many cases, particularly when it is determined that the spine is out of alignment.
Understanding Subluxation of the Vertebrae
In the United States, consensus by the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners defines vertebral subluxation as an anomalous condition that can negatively impact the nervous system and the lives of patients. This is a holistic view of subluxation, which the World Health Organization defines as an anatomical, and more precisely skeletal, misalignment. By virtue of their practice, chiropractors are interested in the effect that vertebral alignment and position has on nerves and the tissue surrounding the spine.
You know how long-time yoga practitioners have excellent posture and are always stating they feel great? There is a strong chance that their spines are ideally aligned through years of yoga routines; furthermore, the muscle groups around their vertebrae are likely toned, firm, and strong, thus creating a desirable harmony with their 31 pairs of spinal nerves. On the other hand, when some of these nerves are constrained by spine misalignment, we are bound to pay the price by feeling lousy and developing other health issues.
Warning Signs of Spine Misalignment
A chiropractic consultation is just like a medical evaluation in the sense that practitioners will consider subjective and objective input before delivering an assessment and outlining a treatment plan. The subjective observations are provided by patients, and they may include the following:
- You are able to move around and get through the day with difficulties because you get tired and just do not feel right.
- You start suffering migraines, particularly after a car accident or a back sprain that resulted from lifting heavy objects.
- Your range of motion has become limited, especially with regard to your neck and hips. Female patients who enjoy dancing salsa or reggaeton notice that they are becoming stiff.
- You experience slight tingling of your lower extremities. Some patients even feel a ghostly numbness of their fingers and toes.
What Chiropractors Look For
After evaluating your comments about how you feel, chiropractors will likely ask some questions for the purpose of eliciting information that you may have left out; for example, they may ask you if the heels of your shoes are wearing out unevenly. In case you have not noticed this warning sign of spinal misalignment, the chiropractor may ask how often and for how long you have been wearing the shoes you put on before arriving at the clinic. At this point, the observations turn objective, and they may include:
- Range of motion: Granted, some people are more flexible than others, but you should be able to turn your neck and hips to a certain degree. The same goes for leg extensions and gait, which chiropractors will observe as you walk and perform easy exercises.
- Heel strike: After checking the soles of your shoes, chiropractors may ask you to walk in a straight line. The goal here is to determine whether you may be placing more weight on one foot than the other in order to compensate for the misalignment.
- The length of your legs: This is something that many patients will never notice unless their posture has been drastically affected. You may look in the mirror and determine that your posture is normal, but chiropractors can notice slight discrepancies that call for accurate measurements of the legs.
How Chiropractors Can Help You With Misaligned Spine Conditions
The first thing you should know is that there are many ways for your spine to fall out of alignment. Some people think that this will only happen with sports injuries or if they are in a car accident, but there are cases in which a lack of ergonomics at the workplace can lead to subluxation of the vertebrae over the years or even in just a few months. For some patients who have been in car accidents that did not cause major injuries, misalignment of the spine is something that catches them off guard.
After evaluating the aforementioned subjective and objective findings, chiropractors may order x-rays before their final assessment and treatment plan. The next step will be for you to attend a series of sessions whereby chiropractors will manipulate your muscles and joints for the purpose of bringing your spine back to proper alignment. There are various goals and desired outcomes at play: First of all, the pain must be addressed. Second, your range of motion and posture should be improved. Finally, quality of life must be regained.
The complexity of our spinal structures makes them vulnerable to slight misalignment situations that are not always diagnosed with x-ray imaging. Chiropractors look to correct improper alignment conditions that may be putting undue strain on one or more nerves, thus causing negative repercussions throughout the central nervous system.
What You Can Expect From Chiropractor Sessions
Since the chiropractic approach to health is holistic, your practitioner may work on more than manipulating your spine back to the place it should be; there may be pulling of your upper extremities and extensions of your legs. You may hear popping or cracking sounds when the joints are relieved of pressure, and this is all very normal. Some patients will experience slight discomfort as their tissue is manipulated, but this is temporary and will often be accompanied by relief. Your chiropractor may also recommend some stretching exercises to help you get better quickly; if you can incorporate these stretches as part of your life, the long-term results will be even more noticeable and enjoyable.
In the end, if you are experiencing any of the symptoms described herein along with back pain, you should strongly consider a consultation with a chiropractor. Keep in mind that your health insurance plan, whether private or through your employer, may cover the costs of chiropractic sessions.