San Francisco Chiropractor Comments:
A primary complaint of many back pain patients is the inability to exercise. They want to exercise, but the exercise makes the pain worse. This is not good, because exercise is exactly what the spine needs to stay strong and healthy.
Many back pain patients that are unable to exercise over extended periods of time put on extra weight that further worsens the problem. Throw prescription or OTC pain medications into the pot and now you have a powerful mix of ingredients that can effect your home and work life and send you on a downward spiral, physically and emotionally.
What I described above is not that uncommon. It can become a viscous cycle that is hard to break. The longer this "back pain-no exercise-weight gain-pain pill-emotional downer" cycle continues, the worse the problem becomes, making in even more difficult to break the cycle.
Obviously, the best approach is to prevent this ugly back pain cycle from happening in the first place by keeping the spine healthy with regular active spinal exercises and stretches, as well as aerobic conditioning (and chiropractic care).
A natural stimulus for the healing
process is active exercise – in a controlled, gradual and progressive manner.
Movement keeps the discs, muscles, ligaments and joints in the spine healthy.
Physical activity also allows diffusion of nutrients into the disc space and
helps it stay healthy. For more information see Back Exercise and
Abdominal Exercise Recommendations.
Too much rest worsens pain
Pain often prevents us from getting
enough exercise, but lack of exercise can worsen the pain by leading to
stiffness, weakness and de-conditioning. In the case of a disc injury,
significant inactivity deprives the injured disc of the nutrition it needs and
this can lead to further degeneration and pain. Additionally, exercise and
activity is needed to maintain the exchange of fluids in spinal structures and
reduce swelling that naturally occurs in the tissues surrounding an injured
disc. This swelling can further irritate nerves that are already affected by
the highly inflammatory herniated disc material. See also Exercise and Fitness Help Your
Stretching, strengthening and aerobic
conditioning exercises are important
It may take weeks or
months of stretching, but you will find that the increase in motion provided by
stretching leads to significant, sustained pain relief. Stretching your
hamstrings regularly is essential therapy for lower back pain and sciatica. If an episode of
low back pain has lasted two weeks or more, a strengthening program (such as
McKenzie exercises, lumbar stabilization training and/or facilitation
exercises) is critical to long-term recovery.
My Take: Sure, exercise is great for preventing back pain and treating back pain. Hey…exercise is good for everything…Life is Motion. But some people just can't do it because of the back pain cycle they are caught-up in. This is where you need a doctor that is experienced in helping patients break the back pain cycle without (potentially addicting) drugs or surgery.
Nonsurgical spinal decompression is our treatment of choice as it is very safe and gentle and can help to re-hydrate the spinal discs, reduce inflammation and muscle spasms, and re-position the injured spinal discs, so that exercise can be implemented without making the problem worse.
Deep tissue laser or cold laser therapy (both are painless) can also help reduce inflammation levels so that more motion can be introduced into the spine, muscles, ligaments, and tendons.
Trying to force exercise on a patient as a treatment when the spine is inflamed can backfire. So be careful, and make sure your doctor has plenty of experience treating severe back pain (and the tools to reduce inflammation first before exercise) and incorporates exercise into their back pain protocols (when the time is right).
To find out if you are a candidate for care at Executive Express Chiropractic in San Francisco, call 415-392-2225.