Where should you go when you hurt your low back?

by dr.g


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MD, PT or Chiropractor? Where do you go when you hurt your lower back?

For many the answer to this and what ultimately what they do has  a lot to do with how much they understand what each of these practitioners do, past history and bias towards certain types of health care. For instance, if you have no exposure to chiropractic and grew up going to the family doctor for everything that is probably the route you will take.

Understanding what each of these practitioners do for low back pain and what there goals are I believe will give  the individual the best chance for success. MD’s generally are treating the low back pain or the symptom. They typically take a history and perform a basic examination and attempt to determine if their is inflammation or muscle spasm, or perhaps something more serious like a disc bulge or herniation. Treatment usually begins with anti-inflammatories and muscle relaxers to help provide low back pain relief . Failure of pain to resolve may result in a chiropractic, physical therapy referral or referral to an orthopedic doctor.  Oftentimes MRI or CT scans are ordered to rule in or out disc bulges and herniations.

Physical therapists and Chiropractors perform evaluations to assess not just where the patients low back pain is coming from but how it is interfering with their function. PT’s generally focus more on the muscles being weak or inflexible while chiropractors tend to focus on joint dysfunction as well as muscle tightness, weakness or inflexibility.  Treatment from the PT generally focuses on decreasing inflammation, relaxing muscle tightness, and regaining strength  with modalities and exercise. Chiropractic treatment focuses on removing nerve interference and improving joint dysfunction as well as helping the patient to reduce inflammation and regain strength and flexibility with modalities and exercise.

An interesting study compared disability recurrence in low back pain patients who visited either the PT, MD or Chiropractor. In fact, this study is the first I have seen that compared maintenance care and low back pain disability. What they determined was that patients that continued to see the chiropractor after their low back pain disability was resolved, had a longer period of time before they were re-injured compared to those that just had medical care, physical therapy or a combination of both.

In addition, chiropractic care is consistently shown to be one of the best active forms of therapy for low back pain relief as well as improving the patients function. So, if you are looking to work towards a longer term solution to your lower back pain you might consider the chiropractor instead of resorting to pills and shots to relieve your pain.


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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

north shore chiropractor May 11, 2012 at 4:01 am

Chiropractic is a big help to unusual pains. A physician cannot solve it directly. A specialist chiropractor is the hero for muscle pains.


Basic Spine June 12, 2012 at 4:44 pm

Spine surgeons, Pain management specialists and Chiropractors. These are great choices to go!


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