Patient education is a very important aspect of caring for our patients. In fact, it can be one of the most important aspects of care. For example, when patients present with a brand new injury and pain levels are off the map, it’s quite common for that acute suffering patient to inappropriately think that, “I’m going to die…this hurts so much”! Hence, one of the very first things we do as chiropractors is to determine what structures are generating the pain so we can tell you.
Once you have an understanding of where the pain is coming from and why it hurts so bad, then you can be reassured that it’s not life threatening or dangerous. Also, at this acute point of time, the patient often unknowingly puts heat on the back, often for hours. This is the WORST thing you can do as the area is already swollen and putting heat on a swollen area draws more blood and fluids to the area. It’s literally like throwing gas on a fire. So, receiving proper information from us such as, put ice on the area for 15-20 minutes on and off several times in a row to “PUMP” the swelling out of the area will make complete sense.
Also, did you know that 2/3rds of our body’s weight is above the waist? That means, when a 150lb person bends over, they are “lifting” 100lbs!! That’s one of several reasons why bending over can be so dangerous. To “fix” that, squat by bending the knees keeping your back straight and keep objects that you might be lifting close to your body as that weight literally weighs 10x more when your arms are straight and you’re lifting. When you can’t squat and have to bend over, bend the knees, arch your back (literally “stick your butt out”). And bend over at your hip joints – DON’T use your back. You’ll need to practice that one a few times before it’s fully understood.
As your back pain improves, we will review these important self-help approaches and add new “tricks of the trade” like certain stretches, some strengthening and perhaps some balance exercises. Did you know that your thigh muscles shrink just by sleeping overnight? It’s true! When you wake up in the morning, your thigh muscles are smaller than when you went to bed. Well, this same muscle shrinkage (technically called “atrophy”) occurs in the lower back and hips, so strengthening exercises are REALLY IMPORTANT! Just think, if your muscles shrink overnight just from laying in bed, what about when you might have been told to use bed rest for several days or more? There potentially is a lot of muscle shrinkage and weakness that can occur in a relatively short amount of time and therefore, strengthening exercises also need to be taught in order to regain your strength so you can more safely do your activities.
Now what about back pain prevention? What methods do you think will help us NOT get low back pain? That’s right-managing weight! If your BMI (body mass index and weight) is >25, you need to trim down a bit (or more). Go online and SEARCH BMI, and pick one of many “BMI Calculators” to figure out your BMI. So, what do chiropractors know about weight loss? Did you know that chiropractic college curriculum includes more nutritional courses than most medical schools? We will help you find a way to lose weight-whether its caloric restriction, a special diet like no/low salt, gluten-free, or diabetes-specific diet. Another prevention trick for the low back (actually, whole body) is to STAY FIT! Make aerobic exercise and even a light weight lifting program part of your daily ritual. Other methods help too, so come in and let us guide you in this journey to better health!
We realize you have a choice in who you choose to provide your healthcare services. If you, a friend or family member requires care for low back pain, we sincerely appreciate the trust and confidence shown by choosing our services and look forward in serving you and your family presently and, in the future.