I think it’s also worthwhile to point out that pain is often a symptom of something, a sign to you that you’re doing something wrong. You can either treat the pain or treat the symptom.
I’ve taken ergonomics classes, perform on a safety committee, talk to a lot of fitness coaches, and participate in coaching the health of employees who ask for it at my company. IANAD, but I’ve noticed several correlations with back pain, and the cures are often in your lifestyle.
Obviously if you have a hernia or slipped disc, nerve, tendon, ligament, bone, or muscle damage, or some other medical issue - your doctor is the best person to help you with it. What Dr. Bob is referring to is conditions where you either can’t treat the cause, or the cause is unknown. That’s in a surprising amount of cases I think.
In my case, as I changed jobs over 17 years, I changed doctors 3 times, and none of them could find a “cure” for my back pain - all they could do was treat the pain. Ibuprofen from one, short-term Vicodin from another, and short-term Codeine from another, none of which did much to help the pain. So what to do?
As I stated in my OP, chiropractic helped in short-term cases, and wouldn’t make me drowsy or addicted. I was glad to find the cure to the symptoms was better stretching and fitness for my body – my life is radically improved ever since the back pain went away.
In addition to Yoga and stretching, I also discovered that sleeping on my side is much better than sleeping on my back or my belly. Also, don’t sleep (or lay down) for more than 8 hours, as the extra time lying down will just make your back hurt the next day.
For a lot of people, it can be caused by weight. Especially in men, where even just a little bit of weight will form in the belly, which changes the shape of your torso in a way that is unnatural to the spine. If your BMI is over 25, drop it to 24.9 or lower, stretch your back and legs (I recommend Yoga), and sleep on your side. There’s a huge chance your back pain will go away. In my experience with coaching other people on back pain relief, this advice has yet to fail, when it’s followed.
In the meantime, a skilled therapeutic masseuse, or a trustworthy chiropractor who doesn’t rely on crystals and magnets, might be able to help your back feel good enough to attend those Yoga classes.
The chiropractors I’ve been to are skilled masseuses with very strong hands who manipulate the spine, ribs, arms, and legs to stretch and massage all of the joints and muscles. At the very least, this is relaxing and restores blood flow to the muscles and ligaments, and is good for muscles that are swollen.
They not only do the physical hands-on thing, but also talk the entire time. In my experience, they asked questions about when my back started hurting, if I got into an accident, when I first noticed it, if it hurts more when I bend over or when I turn my head.
They also spend some time giving advice on how to help my body. They might suggest finding a time of the day that I can stretch – they’ll ask when I have ten or fifteen minutes to spend calmly alone that you can bend down and touch your toes, stretch from left to right, reach over my head and stretch back, etc. They will show me the exercise and help me through the motions until I have it down. The stretching helped, and had I done it more regularly and for longer periods, my back probably would have gotten better earlier.
That’s another advantage to chiropractic that people might not think about – the person giving me this advice probably knows more about my back and joints than I do, and by asking the right questions and learning about my particular body, they can give me advice to help it out.
As Bosda Di’Chi of Tricor stated, there are guys who claim to cure cancer with back rubs. I found that an approach of calming therapeutic massage and good advice helped my back, which was the result I was looking for.
Here’s a great site on Chronic Low Back Pain:
Very heartwarming first sentence to the article: “Low back pain is a condition that affects 80% of the general United States population at some point in life, often to the point of missing work because of it.”