Chiropractic’s focus has long been on back and neck pain. Restoring spinal alignment and muscle balance are critical factors for a more permanent solution. In addition to chiropractic manipulation, core strength and good posture are essential elements in successful treatment.
By: Dr. Ryan Hamm
First Health Associates
Many patients and healthcare providers focus solely on relief when it comes to neck pain, middle back pain and lower back pain. While this is important, little attention is given to identifying and addressing the cause of neck pain and back pain to prevent its recurrence. This is why one surgery or one round of visits with your chiropractor or physical therapist often isn’t enough.
There are two critical factors when seeking a more permanent solution to back pain. If you have ongoing or recurring neck pain, middle back pain and lower back pain, you likely have one or both of these little-known predisposing causes that are often overlooked.
Spinal alignment refers to both the spinal column and the body as a whole, or posture. It is critical for musculoskeletal health because it provides symmetrical balance and the least amount of stress on our joints, muscles and tendons throughout the body. It is also vital for a proper functioning nervous system as the spinal cord and nerves course through the spinal vertebrae to all of our organs, muscles and other tissues of the body.
Unfortunately, most of us develop misalignments in our spine and posture at some point in our lives. Misalignments occur as a result of an injury, such as a fall, car accident or sports injury. Poor spinal alignment can also happen as a result of working, sitting, or sleeping in a bad posture.
Simply put, traumas and bad posture can cause our spinal column and posture to shift out of place. This can eventually lead to health problems. Poor spinal alignment puts excessive stress on spinal tissues. Over time, this weakens the spine and often leads to muscle tightness, disc problems and lower back pain. Misalignments can also negatively affect the nervous system, causing numbness, muscle weakness, or even organ dysfunction.
CORE STABILITY – MUSCULAR SUPPORT
Joint position and joint movement are dependent on a normal functioning nervous system and coordinated muscle strength and movement. At the center of your body is the core, which is the fulcrum or foundation for all movement referred to as your core. Having a stable core is essential to proper movement and function.
Core stability refers to the ability of the muscles of the torso to activate in a coordinated manner to support and protect the spinal column, especially during movement. The diaphragm, abdominal muscles and pelvic floor muscles are key muscles that stabilize the spine. When all of these muscles contract at the same time, they create pressure within the abdomen, or intra-abdominal pressure (IAP).
The core muscles that create IAP should activate together as a team and automatically prior to every movement we make. IAP is what protects and stabilizes our spine in order to prevent back injuries. IAP is essentially our built-in back brace. That is, if everything is working properly.
Unfortunately, many of us lose the ability to create and maintain IAP because of pain and previous injuries. Many of us have also been taught to “suck in” or “pull in” the abdomen, which does not promote good IAP or a stable core. As a result, each time you move without good IAP, you are not utilizing your built-in back brace and risk another episode.
SPINAL AND VERTEBRAL ALIGNMENT
The spine and pelvis together are the column that allows us to sit and stand upright while permitting a myriad of intricate and complex movements. There are close to 100 boney joints that are required to articulate in precise fashion every time we bend, twist, stand or sit.
Unlike other joints in your body, the spine is also the protector of your nervous system. Thirty pairs of spinal nerves exit between your vertebra and travel to various organs and muscles as they deliver critical information to and from your brain.
Make one erroneous move and your body’s natural response is to protect the delicate nerves by locking the vertebra in a faulty position. While the pain may dissipate, your normal movement pattern has been altered. This, over time, can result in repetitive stress on the spine leading to bulging discs, arthritis, and chronic long-term neck pain, middle back pain and lower back pain.
THE KEY: RESTORE ALIGNMENT AND CORE STABILITY
The chiropractors at First Health understand how improper alignment and core stability problems cause lower back pain. They perform adjustments to the spine to restore proper alignment. Gentle adjustments that do not involve joint manipulation (“cracking”) are also performed to restore alignment and reinstate proper joint movement. If your core is unstable, they teach corrective exercises to restore strength and stability. They also teach proper body mechanics by showing you how to move correctly to reduce the amount of stress on your spine.
In conclusion, improper alignment and poor core stability are two predisposing factors that often lead to lower back pain. If you are suffering with ongoing lower back pain, do you think it might be a good idea to have your alignment and core stability assessed by one of our chiropractors? We help people every day with lower back pain. If you or someone you know is suffering with lower back problems, contact us to see if we can help.
Since 1981, First Health Associates has been providing exceptional health care to residents of Arlington Heights, Mt. Prospect, Schaumburg, Buffalo Grove, Rolling Meadows, Palatine, Elk Grove and Des Plaines. First Health is an integrative medicine practice that offers: Medical Care; Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine; Counseling and Behavioral Therapy; and Chiropractic Care.
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