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Low Back Pain

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By: Dr. Stephen O’Neil

Low back pain afflicts many people and is the most common back-related symptom. I t is estimated that 80% of adults suffer from low back pain at some time in their life. This can range from mild recurring aches to severe debilitating pain. This presents a huge financial burden on our health care system and employers every year. Low back pain is also one of the most frequently treated ailments in a chiropractor's office.

Minor low back pain will often resolve without treatment, however, absence of the symptoms does not necessarily mean the underlying condition has been resolved. The absence of symptoms could actually mean that the body has adapted to mask these symptoms and is compensating in some way. This scenario can lead to a whole host of other problems and additional conditions. The absence of symptoms could also indicate that the original problem has progressed to a more serious state.

The causes of low back pain are as numerous as the number of people afflicted. Causes can range from simple sprains and strains to severe bone diseases, such as infection or cancer. Presenting symptoms and history of onset can give valuable information when evaluating low back pain. Type of pain, sharp or dull, constant or intermittent and the severity of this pain can be of great value. The duration of the symptoms and their progression can help with an accurate diagnosis. Factors that may indicate a more serious underlying cause are fever or recent infection / surgery, unexplained weight loss or bowel or bladder involvement. Referral of pain up the spine or into the legs, neurological signs and symptoms that wake a person up at night can all indicate a serious condition requiring quick attention. Osteoarthritis, herniated discs and degenerative joint disease can all cause pinched nerves. The use of x-rays, CT scans or MRI's may be required to differentiate these disorders and accurately diagnose the condition.

Chiropractors are highly skilled at diagnosing and treating many of the underlying causes for low back pain. Notice I said treating the cause of low back pain. It is often said that Chiropractors can cure low back pain. This is not true. Chiropractors treat the cause of the pain by allowing the body to heal itself. The low back pain is merely a symptom of the underlying conditions. Treating or addressing the symptoms would be the equivalent of sweeping the dirt under the carpet. Your house is still dirty - you just can't see it. Eventually, there is nowhere else to put the dirt and you have to give the whole house an overhaul. In the same way, the longer the condition causing low back pain is left untreated, the more chronic, severe and debilitating it will become. Where left long enough, the body may need a complete overhaul as well. When caught early, many of the conditions causing low back pain can be resolved and chronic, long- term damage to the nervous system avoided.

Visit your Chiropractor for an accurate diagnosis and a treatment plan to maximize your potential and help your body heal itself as efficiently as possible. Optimal health and wellness comes from within and starts with proper spinal health.