Friday, March 11, 2011

Are You Living in Pain?

How often does your back hurt? Do you find yourself grimacing as you try to stretch in your office chair? Do you feel like doing nothing but laying down after an afternoon working in the yard?

Back pain is the second leading cause of doctor visits in the United States, following upper respiratory infections. In fact, around 31 million Americans are suffering from back pain at any given time, according to a study in the New England Journal of Medicine. That's a little over 10 percent of the population. All the time. And the amount of money spent on back pain is staggering- over 50 million dollars every year.

The good news is that most cases of back pain are not caused by debilitating, degenerative conditions and can be improved and often corrected. The vast majority of cases are related to injuries caused by over exertion, improper posture, or poor lifting techniques. Often, our lifestyles and jobs are to blame, as sitting all day in front of a computer tends to invite slouching and lower back pain. In fact, sitting for prolonged periods is one of the worst things you can do for your back. Being overweight, especially to the point of obesity, puts a lot of strain on your skeletal system and your back especially.

So, now you're thinking, Great, I'm not alone and you're telling me my pain can likely be resolved. How?
Chiropractic care is an excellent way of resolving and preventing not just back pain, but headaches, neck pain and extremity pain. Chiropractic is the third largest doctored profession in the U.S., and is the most popular alternative medicine in the country. I've treated patients with screws in their back who had resolved themselves to living in pain experience a massive turnaround in only a few weeks. I've seen a painter with carpal tunnel pain in his wrist, afraid he would not be able to work anymore. Now he is pain free. Victims of car accidents, falls, home accidents and a long list of other unfortunate incidents have all walked through the doors of my office and found relief with no prescriptions or surgery.

The standard American approach typically involves reaching for a bottle of painkillers. While I understand their use, popping pills does nothing to resolve the underlying issue causing your pain. Ibuprofen and acetaminophen can both be hard on your stomach and liver, and most people are unaware of the maximum allowable dosages and the potential for liver damage- especially if alcohol is consumed while taking the medication. Under a physician's care the max dose of ibuprofen is 3.2 grams per day. The max dose for acetaminophen is 4 grams per day. With over the counter pills that run up to 500 and 800 mg per pill, it is easier to overdose on those medicines than you might think.

Surgery usually comes in after pain medication is ineffective, and the risks of being put under sedation and having irreversible changes made to the muscle and bones in your back are obvious.
Still, very few people consider the natural, drug and surgery free methods of managing back pain. Lifestyle changes lead the way, obviously. Sleeping on your back, quitting smoking, increasing you water intake, stretching before heavy activity, losing weight and addressing posture issues at work and home will all help. Wearing a sensible pair of shoes, with adequate support and cushioning will also help. Generally that means no heels higher than two inches and no shoes with flat insoles.

Diet is also a huge component of relieving pain. There are several foods that most people eat on a regular basis that actually cause inflammation in the body. Pasteurized dairy products, many grains, refined sugar and some sweeteners, and gluten can all cause an increased level of inflammation in the body, aggravating arthritis and injuries.

Isn't it worth it to try something that isn't going involve additional health risks and chemicals to resolve your pain? Wouldn't it be nice to know you are addressing the problem and not covering the symptoms? As the New Year approaches it is important to realize that living in pain accomplishes nothing more than keeping you from being your best. If you are planning on making lifestyle changes for the New Year, start a wellness and chiropractic lifestyle plan through doctors willing to walk the path with you. Consultations are free, and you have nothing to lose but your pain.

No comments:

Post a Comment