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Low Back Pain

Lower Back Pain Treatment: Belmar, NJ Chiropractor’s Perspective

Introduction

Here at Kinney Chiropractic,In Belmar, NJ,  one of the most common conditions we treat is Lower Back Pain.  Up to 80% of all people will suffer some sort of lower back pain at some point in their lives and  is the #1 cause of disability in our country.  Lower back pain is so common because half of your body weight rests on the bottom few vertebrae of your spine and most of our motion: walking, sitting, lifting, bending and exercise all rely on a stable, strong lower back spine. 

There are 2 main types of lower back conditions that we see...Acute lower back pain and Chronic low back pain.  The first, is when a patient develops pain suddenly, perhaps lifting or bending wrong, or a sports or auto accident and pain may last only a short time, maybe a few days to a few weeks.  Chronic low back pain usually develops over time, and may be the result of a previous Acute low back pain injury that was never treated.   Usually the pain worsens over time ranging from a few months to years.

Because Acute low back pain can develop into something more chronic, it's so imperative to treat any low back pain quickly.  There are 3 areas of the lower back that we address when someone comes in with low back pain. 

First, we see how motion is in the joints. If the spine shifts out of alignment, it can become “locked or stuck” that way, reducing normal motion.  This inevitably causes improper stress on the nerves that exit out at this area causing nerve irritation.  In Chiropractic we call this a Subluxation (abnormal alignment, causing locked joints, pinching nerves).  Subluxations are what chiropractors “Adjust”.   Adjustments help get motion back in the spinal joints, help correct  alignment and reduce nerve pinching and pressure. 

The next area of concern are the discs.  Discs are the shock absorbers that are in between every spinal vertebrae that maintain the space or the holes where the nerves exit out from the spinal cord out to the body parts.  Repetitive stress, abnormal alignment, or sudden accidents or injuries can cause problems with the discs, such as a bulge or a herniation.  Disc problems can not only cause low back pain, but often cause pain into the hips, groin or shooting pain into the legs.   We always want to make sure there are no major disc problems when creating a care plan for lower back pain.  The main way to identify a disc problem is with an MRI.  However, this is an expensive test that insurance companies don’t always want to pay for.  In our office, we utilize digital xray  and although you can't visualize a disc on Xray, we can usually  make an educated guess by analysis spacing and alignment if there is a problem with the disc.  Then, as a holistic doctor, we always manage disc problems conservatively with chiropractic care, before ever referring to pain management or surgery.

The last area that we address in any lower back pain condition are the muscles and supporting soft tissues.  When there is instability, misalignments, subluxations and pinched nerves, the muscles will always tighten up and spasm in response to this abnormality..  Adjustments alone may not always address the soft tissue problems.  During any low back exam, we always take note of what supporting soft tissues and muscles are not functioning correctly and work into the care play of how we can improve proper function . 

Of course, in order to determine what’s actually going with low back pain, we must do a thorough examination, which includes chiropractic, orthopedic and neurologic tests, as well as palpation range of motion and then detailed Digital Xrays.  We examine the findings and review them in detail with every patient so you can see clearly where the problems are.  Then, we put together a specific treatment plan for every patient so we can correct the problems and not only get our patients out of pain, but work to fix and strengthen the problem areas to prevent lower back pain from recurring and keep you healthy and well. 

How We Treat Lower Back Pain In Belmar, NJ

1. Comprehensive Consultation and Exam

In our office, in order to determine what’s the root cause of your low back pain, we must first do a comprehensive consultation and exam.  At Kinney Chiropractic, we take pride in truly listening to our patients and taking a thorough history to see what past experiences may have contributed to your low back pain.  Then during a detailed exam we utilize chiropractic, functional, orthopedic and neurological tests to gain more information on what’s causing the pain, so we can really get to the real cause of the pain.  Finally we will take detailed, digital xrays so we can actually see the real problems in black and white, without having to guess.

2. Custom Therapeutic Exercise Plan

Once we have determined the cause of your lower back pain whether its a subluxation, bulge or herniated disc, or perhaps arthritis or stenosis, its important to address the supporting muscles and ligaments surrounding your spine.  In our office, we create a customized care plan which includes trigger point therapy, to first break up adhesions in the muscles and bring blood to muscles along the spine.  Then we prescribe stretching and strengthening exercises so you can stretch or loosen the tight muscles and then strengthen and stabilize the core, and some of the weaker muscles in the lower back to help hold the adjustments better and prevent future injuries.  During your treatment, you will do some of those exercises here in the office.  But you will also be given a plan  to do stretching and strengthening exercises on your own at home.    We also have a massage therapist who is available to help with further loosening and massaging the tighter muscles to help support the adjustments and the home care you will be doing on your own.

3. Flexion Distraction Belmar, NJ

Flexion Distraction

Another additional way that we help treat lower back pain and Disc problems  in our office is with Flexion-distraction.  We have very specialized tables in our office that help with treating disc problems so effectively and patients often remark how great it feels during treatment.  So in between every one of your vertebrae is a little shock absorber called a disc. Think of the disc like a jelly doughnut. The outer rings of material are a tougher substance and the inner core is a jelly-like material.  When there is abnormal alignment, or abnormal motion, like a subluxation,  or maybe a trauma, the outer rings begin to tear or break down, and the inner jelly starts to squeeze out, causing either a disc bulge or a full blown herniation.

Flexion-distraction works to decompress the discs, reducing intradiscal pressure, and sometimes allowing for retraction of disc material.  Flexion distraction creates more space in between the vertebrae thereby reducing the pinching or pressure on the nerves.  It helps create healthy alignment of the spine and helps stretch the tight or spasmed  lower back muscles.  Lastly flexion distraction allows for the exchange of fluids in the disc, and improved nutrient and blood flow to the joints and surrounding soft tissues.

Common Causes of Low Back Pain in Belmar, NJ

1. Bulged and  Herniated Lumbar discs. 

One of the most common Causes of lower back pain is when there are problems with the disc what we refer to as Bulges or Herniations. . Think of a disc like a Jelly Donut.  The outer parts of the disc are tougher material, called the Annulus fibrosus and the inside is a jelly-like substance, called the nucleus pulposis.  With improper wear and tear, accidents or injuries never treated, or prolonged sedentary lifestyle,   the outer layers of the disc can dehydrate over time.  When that happens, they can  tear or break down, allowing for the jelly (nucleus) to start to push out.  The Nucleus can either bulge through the disc layers over time, which can be very painful, or it can squeeze all the way out, which is called a herniation. This is when the outer fibers tear all the through and the  nucleus breaks all the way through to exit out of the disc. 

Most of the time the herniations or bulges occur in the direction where there is space, which is usually where the nerves exit out.  The problem with both of these scenarios is there is only so much space in the canal where the nerve roots exit out, so when the bulge or herniation occurs it compresses the nerve.  Many nerves that exit your lumbar spine are ones that go to your hips, buttocks or groin, or go down into the legs, so many disc patients have pain in their legs and more intense pressure in the lower back.  When the nerves are compressed they often swell and become inflamed which worsens the lower back and or leg pain.

Disc material may sometimes be reabsorbed back into the disc with certain adjusting techniques and decompression.  Chiropractic adjustments help to reduce the inflammation and swelling at the nerve roots by removing pressure on the nerves and helping get better motion in the joints.  If pain does not improve over a course of treatment, pain management injections or sometimes surgery may be necessary to get relief.

2. Degenerative Disc Disease

Degenerative Disc Disease (often called Arthritis) is a very common condition in the lower back and can cause low back pain. Old injuries or accidents, poor posture, poor spinal alignment and repetitive physical stress ( like a physical job) are a few of the ways that discs can break down, and it usually happens over time.  Discs need hydration in order to stay healthy.  Motion and movement in the form of  stretching or yoga help discs stay hydrated.  Chiropractic adjustments are another key way to keep the disc hydrated.  If you are a smoker, unfortunately that breaks discs down and dehydrates them more rapidly.  Obesity is another risk factor to degenerative disc disease.  Weight and Gravity compress the discs and shrink the foramen or the canal where the nerves exit out from the spinal cord to the body.  Once you have signs of Degenerative disc disease, it cannot be reversed.  Chiropractic adjustments have been shown to slow the process down,  by creating healthy alignment of the spine, getting better motion in the joints to help hydrate the discs, and ultimately alleviate pressure on the nerves. 

3. Subluxation

I want to explain one of the main causes of low back pain and how it is totally treatable in our office.  I’m Dr. Jodi Kinney and I work with low back pain patients all day long.  Although there can be many reasons why you would have low back pain, one of the main causes that we see most often is something called a Subluxation.  Subluxations in the spine are when the joints of the spine become misaligned or overused, causing them to become ‘locked up’ or ‘stuck’.  When this happens, it causes improper motion in the joint surfaces and then in turn can pinch, or put pressure on, or  irritate the nerves that exit from the spine.  This causes pain.  The main treatment for subluxations and low back pain in our office is the adjustment.  Adjustments create motion and movement in the spinal joints, unlocking the stuck vertera, and helping take pressure off the nerves.  Where by allowing your body to heal and function naturally as it should.

a. What Chiropractors look for and treat
b. Causes dysfunction in the spine and pressure on the nerves
c. Specific Chiropractic adjustments are the only solution

Frequently Asked Questions

1. When should I be worried about lower back pain?

There are a few instances when you should worry about your low back pain.  Lower back pain should be a concern when it's a debilitating pain that will not go away.  Most people can tolerate pain for a day or 2 but beyond that, some sort of treatment or chiropractic care should be sought out.  The next sign that you should worry about your back pain is when you have episodes of pain that are longer, or happen more frequently.  Perhaps you typically get a low back pain every 6 months.  If you start to notice the pain every 3 months or shorter durations in between, its time to see a chiropractor. In any pain situation, the sooner you seek treatment, the better the outcomes usually are.

2. How do I know if its time to see someone for my Low back pain in Belmar, NJ?

If you have persistent lower back pain that is not going away after a week or more, its time to see a chiropractor.  Make sure that office takes Xrays, like at Kinney Chiropractic. 

3. How do I know if my back pain is serious?

It can be very difficult to assess if your back pain is serious or not.  But if low back pain is affecting your daily life, for example, your child care, your work or sleep, then its time to seek chiropractic care for your pain.  Everyone has a different threshold of pain, but if your life is starting to be affected, its not worth trying to live in pain.  Its time to see a professional, like a chiropractor.  Make sure they take xrays and are thorough in their evaluation.

4. How should I sleep with lower back pain?

If you have lower back pain the best way to sleep is either on your side or your back...never on your stomach.  If the pain is worse on one side or another, I usually recommend the patient sleep with a pillow between the knees with the bad side up.  If you are more of a back sleeper, sleep with a pillow under your knees like a bolster to push the lower back into the bed.  

5. How does a slipped disc feel?

A slipped or herniated disc can vary in how it feels.  Some patients present with pain in their lower back that is worse on one side or another.  Some feel pain across both sides of the low back.  But often herniated discs create pain that goes into the hips, the buttocks or down the back of the leg.  Usually one side is worse.  Pain can radiate into the testicals for men or into the fronts of the legs.