When should you schedule an appointment with a chiropractor? In short, whenever you want.
Back pain is a common disorder with a high rate of recurrence. Almost 80% of Americans will experience back pain at least once in their adult lives. At any one time, 6.8% of the population is suffering from an episode of back pain lasting more than two weeks.
Back pain may result from stress, repetitive activity, strenuous physical exercise or trauma caused by a recent car accident or fall. Most Americans lead a largely sedentary lifestyle. Sitting hunched over a keyboard for long periods of time causes unwanted pressure on the back and can ultimately cause bones and discs to shift.
Most people have experienced or will experience back pain, but different people have different types of pain and different levels of pain tolerance. You may not run to the chiropractor for an occasional backache, but recurring back pain may eventually become debilitating and may prevent you from going to work and participating in daily activities.
There are many causes of back pain, and not all causes are readily apparent. Sciatica, which occurs when the spinal nerve is entrapped through misalignment or disc herniation, can be diagnosed. However, Sciatica accounts for less than 10% of back pain cases. With other causes of back pain, there may be no clinical signs or pathological changes to assist in diagnosis. Chiropractors are musculoskeletal experts, highly educated and trained to assess, diagnose and treat the underlying causes of back pain. Difficult back pain diagnoses are a chiropractor’s specialty.
For the most part, back pain goes untreated, and some pain subsides with time and rest. However, there is no need to endure pain and discomfort. Chiropractors manipulate joints and bones to correct spine misalignment, correct abnormal flow of nerve impulses, improve joint mobility, reduce muscle spasms and help heal injured tissues. Patients who treat chronic and acute back pain through chiropractic care experience better outcomes in pain, functional disability and patient satisfaction than patients who elect other treatment methods.
When back pain is accompanied by other changes, such as fever, weakness, chest pain or loss of bladder control, the pain may be symptomatic of a more serious problem, such as a spinal infection or cancer. If you experience a combination of symptoms, you should seek immediate medical attention. Your chiropractor is a good place to start. After conducting an examination and history, your chiropractor will be able to recognize red flags and refer you to the appropriate medical specialists.
Some people visit chiropractors as a last resort, when severe pain does not improve with medications or other treatment. People who have suffered trauma or athletic injury may visit chiropractors as part of a balanced healing and rehabilitation plan. Some people visit chiropractors regularly, as a preventative measure to ensure their spines stay optimally aligned.
You do not have to be in pain to seek the advice of a chiropractor. Chiropractic treatment can assist with a variety of other issues, including posture, stress relief and headaches. However, most people pursue chiropractic care as a result of upper or lower back pain. As a general rule, you should seek treatment for pain following a trauma, mild pain that continues for two to four weeks, or severe pain that does not improve after a day or two of rest and pain relievers.
If your back pain is having a negative impact on your life, you should seek the expert advice of a chiropractor. There is no reason to live in pain and discomfort.
Willis, W.H. Kirkaldy-Willis and J.D. Cassidy, CAN. FAM. PHYSICIAN Vol. 31: MARCH 1985, p. 536, available at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2327983/pdf/canfamphys00205-0107.pdf.
Low Back Pain, the $50 Billion Problem, Conference sponsor Institute for low back Care, Minneapolis, MN: Abbot Northwest hospital, September 30, 1982.