Back pain

Back pain is extremely common and it’s estimated that eighty percent of adults will experience back pain during their lifetime. Back pain is most common in the lower back, although it can be felt anywhere along your spine from the base of your neck down to your hips. 

Causes 

Your back is a complex structure made up of bones, muscles and nerves, with many joints. This can often make it difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of pain. Most cases of back pain aren't caused by serious damage or disease but by minor sprains, strains or injuries. Nerve irritation can also be involved.

Symptoms 

Vary widely from person to person and can be anything from a dull ache to a sharp, stabbing pain. Pain can be general over a large area of the back or localised to a smaller area or point. Pain can appear on one side of the body only or both sides. Pain can travel into the buttocks or legs. Pins and needles in the buttocks, legs and feet from nerve irritation can also be a feature associated with back pain. Stiffness and reduced mobility is also very commonly associated with back pain.

Your chiropractor will use orthopaedic, neurological and muscular tests to establish the cause of your problem and ensure that you are given the correct treatment.

Chiropractic 

The treatment of back pain depends entirely on the cause of the problem. Your chiropractor is trained to diagnose and treat a wide range of back problems and to recognise problems which may need a referral back to the GP or to another health care professional.

Chiropractic is widely recognised as a cost effective and evidence based approach to acute and chronic back pain. After a full assessment during which your chiropractor will diagnose the cause of your current symptoms, gentle adjustments will be made to your body. 

As part of your chiropractic treatment, your chiropractor will discuss with you ways in which you can avoid future problems with your back. Recommendations may include exercise and lifestyle advice.

What is a slipped disc? 

A ‘slipped disc’ (herniated disc) is a situation where one of the discs in the spine bulges or ruptures and the gel inside leaks out. Not all herniated discs are painful and it depends on the location and severity of the herniation as well as the general condition of the spine as to what symptoms might be experienced.

Disc herniation is relatively rare and only around 5% of lower back pain relates to disc injuries. Only a small percentage of patients with herniated discs eventually end up requiring surgery.

Over time, the body will gradually reabsorb the herniated disc material and though the disc will have lost a good deal of its cushioning and flexibility, it will not necessarily be problematic or painful.

Though widely used, the term ‘slipped disc’ is somewhat misleading as discs do not ‘slip’ and cannot be ‘pushed back in’ by chiropractors (or anyone else for that matter!) 

A chiropractor can work on you even if you have a herniated disc.

What is sciatica? 

Sciatica is a symptom rather than a condition. It consists of leg pain, which can vary from a slight crampy sensation to excruciating shooting pain that makes standing or sitting nearly impossible. Weakness, numbness, or a burning/tingling sensation in the leg, sometimes as far as the toes is also possible with sciatica.

Sciatica is a result of irritation to the sciatic nerve; the longest and widest single nerve in the human body. This nerve originates in the lower back and runs through the buttock and down the lower limb to the foot. The sciatic nerve can be irritated by inflammation in the spinal joints or discs or by severe muscle spasm. Not all sciatica is related to disc problems.

The term ‘sciatica’ is often wrongly used to describe all kinds of leg pain. In reality, there are many causes of non-sciatic leg pain; these are most commonly referred pain from the joints in the lower back or pelvis or muscular tightening in the lower limb.

Chiropractic can help to alleviate the symptom of sciatica.

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