I loved training as a chiropractor. I love meeting new people and helping them get out of pain. I love it when, by working with them to improve the functioning of their nervous system, my practice members experience fewer headaches, shorter colds, better sleep and a general feeling of having more energy. So far so good. But there is one thing I hate about my job. I hate the British attitude of ‘everyone has back pain, it’s a normal part of life and I’ll just put up with it until it goes away’. That really gets my goat. Partly because it is false but mainly because such false beliefs mean that people suffer in pain for years and this stops them from fully enjoying life and because ignoring pain means that their spine, joints and nerves are gradually being damaged.
Ignoring warning signs is never a good idea: you can do it in the short term but long term it is more costly, in every way. Would you ignore a spreading damp patch on your ceiling un- til it caved in? Would you ignore the oil warning light on your car until it ground to a halt? Per- haps you would, perhaps you like the ‘patch it up and ignore it until later’ style of living. If you do, you are braver than me.
I could spend all day telling you about case studies of patients in their forties with worse musculoskeletal health than would be expected in someone in their seventies or about the frustration of needlessly living with arthritis caused by years of wear and tear. But feedback from previous articles tells me that you like straight talking advice. So here is some.
If you don’t have back pain…
Brilliant! But let’s keep it that way. You can easily learn how to sit, lift, bend, drive, eat, sleep and exercise to keep you out of pain and your spine and nervous system in tip top condition. If you want some free information on how to avoid back pain look around my website in particular the exercise side of things.
If you have back pain…
Don’t worry! Stress and worry can increase the pain you feel and make it last longer. So take a deep breath and relax: there are effective treatments for back pain. You do not need to put up with any back pain that lasts for longer than two days.
Unlike drugs, a chiropractic adjustment works on the underlying problem causing the pain and also helps to naturally relieve the painful symptoms. Following a thorough assessment, a chiropractic adjustment normally involves gentle, specific manipulation of joints and the spine to free stiff areas and relieve nerve irritation. Your chiropractically trained practitioner will also offer advice specific to your age, health and fitness levels on how to prevent the problem reoccurring. Following care, if you are not one to follow the exercises at home on your own, then guided physical therapy sessions to build up strength in the structure of your body are advantageous and these are provided by one of our trusted and highly skilled specialist partners in the area.
Won’t it just go away?
Your back is naturally good at dealing with minor injuries but if pain is stopping you from your normal activities, preventing you from sleeping or lasts for more than two days, then I would recommend consulting a chiropractically trained practitioner. Ignoring pain for a long time can actually make your brain more sensitive to pain signals. Sometimes a painful injury changes the way the pain signals are sent through the body, and, even after the problem has gone away or is inactive, the pain signals still reach the brain. It is as if the brain develops a memory of the pain and keeps replaying it. Studies have shown that when back pain is not treated, it may go away temporarily but is likely return. One study demonstrated 90 per cent of people who experienced back pain for longer than 30 days were still experiencing painful symptoms five years later (1).
So you have a choice. You can try to save time and money by ignoring the warning signals and putting up with the pain or you can make a positive choice to get out of pain and learn how to improve your spinal health for a more active future. It might be as simple as improving your posture, including a few extra items in your diet or learning how to move without damaging your spine. A little knowledge goes a long way and it’s all available from your local chiropractically trained practitioner.
1.Hestbaek L, Leboeuf-Yde C, Engberg M, Lauritzen T, Bruun NH, Manniche C. The course of low-back pain in a general population. Results from a 5-year prospective study. J Manipulative Physiol Ther 2003 May;26 (4):213-9.
All information given is in- tended for general informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice, medical opinion, diagnosis or treatment.
If you have or suspect you may have a health problem, you should consult your GP