So often, people seek chiropractic care for lower back pain. In fact, studies show that it is the most common symptom that chiropractors treat in their offices…they seem to see more of these cases than all others combined. But what exactly does a chiropractor do for those with low back pain during their first chiropractic visit and beyond? That’s a fair question so let’s answer it.
Consulting With A Chiropractor
When you see a chiropractor, the first thing they will generally do for you is sit down for a consultation. During this time, they will ask several questions as it relates to your pain, such as, “How did this happen?”. As simple as this question may sound, the answer will help the doctor begin to determine if the problem is with a muscle, ligament, herniated disc, nerve and/or a bone.
For most people, they might answer with things such as, “I was doing gardening all weekend, down on my hands and knees or perhaps lifting plants and mulch etc.” Some may say they went bowling a couple of nights earlier, felt a little stiffness and didn’t think much of it at the time. Others will present with a definite “I lifted an 80 lbs bag of fertilizer and felt something in my back pop”. The answer you give will go a long way in determining the correct diagnosis.
Has this ever happened before?
Other questions the chiropractor might ask is “has this ever happened to you before?” This is asked to see if there is some sort of underlying pathology going on such as a family history of muscle disease or arthritis…knowing this information further helps to clarify you condition.
The consultation will continue with questions like, “What have you done so far to help this condition out? Medications? Physical therapy? Massage? These are important questions to know the answers to, because if any of these prior treatments have helped, the chiropractor just might encourage you to continue with more of the same. For most people though, the usual response is “nothing has helped”. That’s about the time they decide to see a chiropractor.
What makes the problem worse?
Here’s another valid question that you might be asked: “What makes the problem worse?” Believe it or not, coughing and sneezing can aggravate your lower back pain and if it does, this might mean that you have a disc injury, such as a herniated disc or disc protrusion. Other signs that you might have a disc injury could be in the way you stand or walk. Postural changes and the way you walk can help determine your diagnosis as well.
Once the chiropractor gets answers to these questions, they will usually do what is called a spinal exam. Here they will measure your lower back movements to see how far it can bend in certain directions, such as bending forward at the waist, leaning backward and bending from side to side.
They will then compare your results with what is considered normal for a person your age to see if there are any obvious limitations in movement. A decrease in the amount you can move in a certain way might indicate a vertebrae out of position that is not tracking or gliding properly across the ones next to it.
Palpation (Feeling) of the spine and surrounding tissues
Next, they will have you lie down on your stomach on a table and it is here where the skill of the chiropractor is really put to the test. They will check the muscles of your lower back along both sides of the spinal column, with their hands, to see if the muscle is in spasm. This is a process known as palpation which means, to feel.
They will also be able to tell if your vertebrae are lining up properly as they check for high and low spots just adjacent to the center of your spine. This helps determine how bad the spine may have been twisted and stuck that way.
They may also do a few orthopedic tests where your legs are moved side to side, up an down to see where your pain is localized. This helps differentiate muscles problems from ligament problems as well as disc problems. Sometimes, lower back pain may cause leg pain and the chiropractor can determine the exact bone in your lower back that is pinching the sciatic nerve.
Once this part of the exam is complete, the chiropractor has a very good idea of where your problem is coming from. More often than not, there is a bone or two that is not lining up with the rest causing all this pain. X-rays can be taken to confirm the exact position of the problem vertebrae.
In our office, patients get to see their x-rays since it is always much easier to explain to them where their problem is and how to best go about correcting it.
Chiropractors may then recommend treatment of your lower back pain which may include therapies such as electric muscle stimulation, traction and ultrasound. At some point, they may make the recommendation to adjust the spine, which means they are going to help restore the normal position of the bones.
This is an extremely effective procedure to have done and is why many times, patients with back pain will finally experience relief for the first time when a chiropractor adjusts their back.
So, this is what you can expect during your chiropractic consultation and examination if you are having lower back pain in our Columbus, Ohio office. Call us today to schedule an appointment.