Low Back Pain Treatment: A Philadelphia, PA Chiropractor’s Perspective

Low Back Pain pa

Did you know that low back pain and spinal disorders are the leading cause of pain, disability, and suffering in the world today? It can severely interfere with your quality of life and your ability to perform even the most basic activities of daily living. That truly is the reason patients seek care; their quality of life has been disrupted and they just want to be “normal” again.

At PA Pain & Rehab in Philadelphia, we see so many people come in suffering from low back pain. It is critical to diagnose and treat it as early as possible to prevent the condition from worsening and progressing to a point where you need surgery. Studies show about 80% of adults will experience back pain at some point in their life.  

The back is a complicated structure of bones, joints, ligaments, and muscles, not to mention your spinal cord and nerves. You can sprain ligaments, strain muscles, rupture discs, and irritate joints, all of which can lead to back pain. While sports injuries or accidents can cause back pain, sometimes the simplest of movements—for example, picking something up from the floor— can have painful results. In addition, arthritis, poor posture, obesity, and psychological stress can cause or complicate back pain. 

It’s better to be proactive and take care of yourself rather than wait for a problem to occur, but in the event you do have back pain, there are multiple treatment options that are drugless and non-surgical. 

How We Treat Back Pain at PA Pain & Rehab in Philadelphia

Comprehensive Consultation and Exam

Here at PA Pain & Rehab, treatment for low back pain begins with a comprehensive consultation and exam. We start with your health history, which helps us gain a better understanding of where you’ve been and what direction we need to head regarding your treatment. 

Before we can create a specific treatment plan for your low back pain our doctors will do a thorough exam to diagnose the specific cause of your pain. The doctor will start by determining areas of restricted movement in your low back and spine as well as perform a physical, neurological, and orthopedic exam. The doctor will also analyze how you walk, your overall posture, and your spinal alignment. In addition, X-rays, MRIs, and laboratory tests may also be used to help us diagnose the cause of your back pain. Once the doctor diagnoses the specific problem (or problems) causing your back pain, he or she will be better able to create an effective treatment plan for your back pain.

Specific Chiropractic Care in Philadelphia

Chiropractors are trained to detect and correct a condition of the spine called Subluxation. A subluxation is when a single vertebra in the spine has either become misaligned or is not moving properly with the vertebra above and below. This can cause neurological dysfunction, tenderness, and most certainly pain. 

When this happens in the low back it not only can cause pain but it can also lead to symptoms like pain or numbness and tingling down into your hip or even as far down as your toes.

Chiropractic for the low back has been repeatedly shown to be the most effective treatment for low back pain. In fact, major studies have shown that chiropractic care is more effective, cheaper, and has better long-term outcomes than any other treatment. This makes sense because chiropractic care is the only method of treatment that serves to re-establish normal vertebral motion and position in the spine. All other treatments, such as muscle relaxants, painkillers, and bed rest, only serve to decrease the symptoms of the problem and do not correct the problem itself.

Customized Low Back Rehabilitation

While chiropractic adjustments are the foundation of our treatment, we incorporate spinal rehabilitation in our offices to help patients recover faster from their low back injuries. 

To help patients achieve the best results we incorporate the Tri-Flex rehab center in all of our offices. With these units we are able to not only help patients with low back and disc problems, but the Tri-Flex system also allows us to do whole body rehab to help our patients heal faster and reduce their risk of re-injury. The benefits of this program can help to:

  • Reduce healing time
  • Relieve pain
  • Re-educate muscles
  • Loosen restricted soft tissue
  • Increase stabilization of the low back
  • Improve posture

Trigger Point Therapy & Myofascial Release

“Myofascial” is a word that means muscle tissue. When the muscles get stressed or injured, “trigger points” can form which are like contracted knots that lead to tightness and pain. Trigger points in the low back can not only cause pain in your low back, but they can also refer pain into the hip and even down the leg. 

Trigger point therapy involves applying pressure to these painful, sensitive areas in order to alleviate the pain on-site and in other areas of the body. This, along with chiropractic adjustments and low back rehabilitation, helps patients with low back pain often find relief, better mobility, and overall better function. 

Electrical Muscle Stimulation

The road to recovery can sometimes be long and challenging. Patients are eager to start feeling better and get back to their regular lives and favorite activities. At PA Pain & Rehab, we have the important job of guiding patients along this journey. In order to help patients feel better and reach their goals as soon as possible, we utilize a number of therapeutic methods. One of these methods is known as electrical muscle stimulation or EMS.

EMS is a targeted treatment that can be used in combination with manual therapy and other rehab activities and therapies. Electrical muscle stimulation can be applied to help treat pain or recover muscle strength following an injury, surgery, or spasm. EMS is a great tool to help patients manage their pain without medication, especially in the acute phase of care when the patient is the most inflamed. 

Intersegmental Traction (IST)

Misaligned or stuck joints in the spine can hinder your movement and lead to pain. IST tables help by gently putting movement into the stuck or fixated spinal joints. It mobilizes the spinal column, positively affecting not only the vertebrae, but also the discs, ligaments, muscles, and tendons. The patient lies face-up on the table, while the rollers inside the table gently move up and down the spine. Intersegmental traction to the low back helps to:

  • Accelerate recovery from injury
  • Restore the normal range of motion in the low back
  • Reduce muscle spasms that can be caused by weakened postural muscles or spinal injuries
  • Increase blood flow to your discs, ligaments, and muscles, which can improve balance and strength

Common Causes of Low Back Pain in Philadelphia, PA

Sprains and Strains

Pulled muscles, strains, and sprains are among the most common causes of low back pain. It’s a common misconception that these only arise suddenly as a result of a single injury; in many cases, strains and sprains can happen slowly over time due to stress caused by repetitive movement.

A strain is an over-stretched or pulled muscle; a sprain is the same thing but involves the ligaments, the connective tissue between bones. Common causes of strains and sprains include:

  • Twisting the spine too far
  • Lifting something that’s too heavy
  • Sitting with poor posture for long periods
  • Forceful impact from a sports injury or car accident

Herniated Discs

Built into the structure of your spine are soft discs that cushion the vertebrae and give your spine mobility. When a disc slips out of alignment and bulges outside of your vertebral column, it can compress and irritate nearby nerves—causing intense pain.

Sometimes this is caused by a single injury. But it can also be caused by degeneration over time. As people age, these discs can wear down, leading to a herniated disc.

Spinal Stenosis

Nerves travel up the spinal column through a passageway in the center called the spinal canal. The entire spinal column is built to protect these nerves. However, sometimes that passage can narrow and put pressure on those nerves.

This narrowing can be caused by a variety of factors, including wear, tear, and bone overgrowth from osteoarthritis, spinal tumors, thickened ligaments, and spinal fractures and dislocations.

Joint Dysfunction

In addition to cushiony discs, the structure of the spine includes facet and sacroiliac joints that serve as shock absorbers and provide mobility. These can become inflamed, often as part of a cascading effect caused by herniated discs or other injuries.

Spondylolisthesis

This refers to a condition where a lower back vertebra slips forward over the vertebra beneath it. The most common underlying causes involve facet joint fractures or degeneration, leading to instability and painful nerve compression throughout the spinal structure.

Spinal Osteoarthritis

This condition usually happens slowly as a person ages and can cause a cascade of effects including stenosis, facet joint problems, inflammation, instability of the spinal column, and herniated discs.

Frequently Asked Questions

How should I sleep with low back pain?

  • Sleep on your side with a pillow between your knees. Using the pillow helps to keep your hips, pelvis, and spine in better alignment.
  • Sleep on your side in a fetal position. Sleeping in the fetal position helps open up the space between vertebrae which can relieve pain and discomfort.
  • Sleep on your back with a pillow under your knees. When you sleep on your back with a pillow under your knees it helps alleviate strain on your pressure points and provides better alignment of the spine.

What is sciatica?

Sciatica is a condition that causes pain radiating from the lower back down one of your legs. It results from the compression or irritation of a nerve root that emerges from the spinal column in your lower back, and it may manifest with low back pain, although that particular symptom is not always present. 

What causes back pain?

Back pain can be caused by a variety of damages to the spinal structures. Whether through chronic pain conditions or a traumatic injury, when any of the pain-sensitive structures of the back are damaged or swollen, the resulting localized pain or impinged nerve roots will cause back pain.

How do I know if my low back pain is serious?

If you are experiencing low back pain along with any of these symptoms seek immediate care:

  • High Fever
  • Loss of bladder and/or bowel control
  • Increased weakness in your legs
  • Severe stomach pain

When should I be worried about low back pain?

Most people have experienced low back pain at some point in their life. It can range from a dull ache that lasts a few days to intense pain that lasts for weeks. When in doubt, seek professional advice.

Is chiropractic care safe for back pain?

Chiropractic care is very safe for back pain. It is a drugless and non-invasive form of treatment that can alleviate back pain and strengthen and realign the muscles to prevent a recurrence.