How Can a Chiropractor Help with a Back Injury?
Now, there are many reasons why someone would see a chiropractor. In this post we are going to look at it from the perspective of a back injury.
I think that one of the biggest disadvantages chiropractors have today is that very few people know what we do. So, before answering how we can help with a back injury, I need to explain a little bit about Chiropractic.
What is Chiropractic?
When I ask the average person, what is chiropractic? Or what do chiropractors do? I usually get something like: “they crack your back to make you feel better” or “I don’t really know?”
Chiropractors are doctors who assess proper nerve flow by making sure the joints are working correctly. Our main method of treatment is the chiropractic adjustment and yes, sometimes you will feel a pop in the joints when you get an adjustment. Many chiropractors use additional conservative treatments to support the adjustment such as: nutrition, hot packs, ice packs, exercise, massage and electrical muscle stimulation.
I like to keep things simple when talking about Chiropractic. If you have a back injury, there are 3 areas of possible damage or injury. You could have damage to the nerve, the joint and/or the muscles and soft tissue. When you sustain a back injury, you usually have a combination of some kind of damage to all three areas.
The most important is the nerve.
We are going to split up nerve damage into two categories; nerve damage that you need surgery for and nerve damage that you don’t need surgery for.
When looking at nerve damage that that you don’t need surgery for; many times we use the term “pinched nerve” for this type of nerve pain. It is very common for doctors to refer to the chiropractor for a pinched nerve. The most basic purpose of the chiropractic adjustment is to open up the joint space and unpinch the nerve.
Of course if you need surgery you are not a chiropractic candidate for that specific nerve. But, that does not mean that you don’t need to be evaluated by a chiropractor. It just means you may have one more step before you see a chiropractor. Your chiropractor will know if you qualify for chiropractic care.
If the joint is not working then the whole system starts to break down. There are a lot of joints in the back. So, having a back injury provides a lot of opportunity for damage to the joints.
Other than misalignment of the joints, the main joint problem people are most concerned about is arthritis. Arthritis is a process where the bone changes shape because; the joint was not working correctly. There are many people out there who have arthritis without pain. Arthritis becomes painful after an injury, many times, because of the inflammation that comes with an injury.
Muscles and soft tissue
Here is where we can have muscle spasm, muscle pulls, strains, sprains, ligament damage and tendon damage. The muscles provide mobility and stability to your joints. Your soft tissue helps to hold your body together.
Most of the pain you will experience with a back injury will most likely be in the muscles and soft tissue. The chiropractic adjustments can sometimes help with basic muscle tension and muscle pain. Usually it is the associated treatments like electrical muscle stimulation and massage that really help to decrease inflammation and spasm in the muscle groups.
So, how can Chiropractic help me with my back injury?
At its core, chiropractic helps improve joint function to remove pressure on the nerves. Basically, we get the back working like a normal back again or at least as close to normal as we can get. At the beginning of someone’s case, pain relief is extremely important. But, most people want to get better and stay better and you cannot achieve that by just focusing on pain relief. To get better and stay better you need to have optimal function of the nerves, joints and soft tissue; all of which a chiropractor can help you with.
Many people start with the emergency room or some kind of painkillers to help with their low back pain. If you have an injury, medications can help you get the inflammation down and possibly help you deal with the pain. But, they will not take pressure off of the nerve, improve joint function and help with soft tissue repair.
Does that mean that you should not take medication if you have a back injury?
The short answer is; not really. Your team of doctors will be the best to determine if you qualify for medication. Pain relief is very important in a back injury and sometimes it can be bad enough to get medication. But, if your only plan of action is to remove pain and you don’t improve function; you will most likely end up with a chronic problem down the line.
So, if you are looking for a solution for your back injury, contact a chiropractor as soon as you can for an evaluation. Do not let your pain go too long before getting some help!