As a chiropractor, I'm trained in the treatment of back pain. However, there’s only so much that a hands-on expert can do, and the rest is up to you. Read on to find out how you, the back pain sufferer, can meet me half way as I care for your spine. Some of the tips I'm going to share with you are so easy, you’ll wish you’d known them all along.
How does a chiropractor diagnose back pain?
All pain is caused by irritation of the nerves, but the trigger for this irritation varies. The back is made up of discs, ligaments, joints, nerves and muscles, and a problem with any one of these can result in pain. Often it’s a combination.
I never treat back pain without first diagnosing what’s causing it. I begin by assessing the movement and alignment of the patient’s spine, and their posture. However, sometimes I have to look beyond the spine to understand what’s causing a patient’s back ache. Here are some indirect causes of back pain-
- Leg length difference
- Hamstring tightness
- Gluteal muscle inhibition
- Hip, knee, foot or ankle restrictions
- Weak core strength
- Poor nutrition
Seeking the help of a chiropractor will help you identify and remedy these contributing factors. Don’t just medicate and wait for the pain to go away.
8 things you can do to avoid back pain.
You can prevent damage to your spine, or ease the pressure it’s under, by making the following simple changes.
1. Your discs rehydrate overnight, so they’re at their fullest and most vulnerable for the first hour of the day. Avoid putting strain through your back at this time.
2. Do you keep your wallet in your back pocket? When you sit, this tilts your pelvis and puts a strain on your lower back. I once saw a patient who had been through two years of back pain, and all he needed to do was stop sitting on his wallet.
3. When lifting, bend at the knees and hips, even if the thing you’re picking up weighs very little. If you’re lifting something heavy, also remember to hold the weight as close to your body as you can.
4. Avoid sitting on seats that are low, soft, or have a base which tilts backwards. If you have to lever yourself out of it, your sofa is not doing your spine any good at all. If your car seat fits this description, buy a seat wedge or sit on some folded towels. To read our blog about sitting well, click here.
5. Get up and move. Whenever you remain seated for more than 20 minutes, the structures in your lower back start to accumulate micro-trauma. If you get up and move around, even for a few seconds, you are resetting that 20 minute timer back to zero.
6. Stop sleeping on mattresses which are unsupportive. A mat on the floor is preferable to a squishy, worn out mattress.
7. Choose shoes with a supportive heel. High heels are bad for your back, but so are ballet pumps or other flat shoes, partly because they offer so little cushioning as your heel slams down onto the pavement. The heel should be slightly raised, just like it is on the sensible men’s shoes in Clarkes.
8. If you are a gym bunny, avoid traditional sit ups. Any exercise which involves repeatedly bending forward through the waist is bad news for the spine. If you want to do dead lifts, ask a trained coach to make sure you’re doing them properly.
Try making these changes and seeing how you feel. If any of the above are contributing to your back pain, you should begin to see a difference within a month.
If you’ve found this article useful, you might also like Eight Causes of Neck Pain.