Should You Visit a Doctor or a Chiropractor for Back Pain?
Surrey Pain & Wellness Clinic – Doctor or Chiropractor?
Any onset of sudden back pain following heavy work, exercise or minor fall usually results from a simple strain. This may not be the case for elderly or those who have a history of a serious disease or chronic condition. In these cases, a visit to your family doctor or local emergency room is recommended, depending on the severity and symptoms.
When to Consult a Doctor for Back Pain
Any severe back pain
Any trauma, such as a hard fall or a motor vehicle accident (with or without pain)
In the elderly or if the person has osteoporosis, even a minor stumble or fall warrants immediate medical attention
Back pain is worse when lying down
The pain is accompanied by an unexplained fever
Low-level pain that is present for more than a month without any improvement
Any back pain and an unexplained weight loss
History of cancer
Long-term steroid use (this can weaken the bones and increase risk of fractures)
Recent onset of urinary tract problems such as pain or burning, increased frequency or infection
Back pain accompanied by leg weakness or numbness, the genital area or buttocks; or accompanied by a change in the ability to urinate or have a bowel movement. (These may be signs of spinal nerve injury.)
When to Consult a Chiropractor for Back Pain
If you suffer from chronic back pain, a chiropractor may prove to be very useful in relieving symptoms. Chiropractic adjustments may be more effective than physical therapy in certain cases or can be complementary to your physical or massage therapy program. On the other hand, if you have been to a physiotherapist, massage therapist, or even if you have had surgery on your back and have not experienced relief or improvement in your symptoms, a knowledgeable chiropractor can make all the difference.
If your pain is especially severe or you have been in chronic pain for more than three months, you may want to call your chiropractor for advice before deciding to head to the clinic in order to determine the best immediate course of action. It may be best to rest and apply ice before seeking treatment if the pain is acute. In any case, chiropractic care may prove to be very useful in relieving symptoms.
Many people don’t realize their spine is out of alignment, because symptoms can manifest in other parts of the body or the nervous system. Treating the spine, which is the master system of the entire body, therefore affects all aspects of the body, including issues with:
Upper and lower back
Pelvis, hips, knees
Shoulders, elbows, wrists
Knees, feet, ankles
Muscles, ligaments and tendons
Soft tissue injuries
How to Find a Chiropractor?
Chiropractors are “primary contact” health care providers, which means you do not have to be referred to one by a physician or anyone else. You may book the appointment yourself over the phone. Surrey Pain & Wellness Clinic will also book an appointment for you online.
However, as with any other health care professional, referrals from friends and acquaintances are probably the best way to find a chiropractor that you trust. Treatments and applications do vary between chiropractors, so be sure to ask your chiropractor questions about how he or she can help your specific issue and how long it might be before you expect results.
Surrey Pain & Wellness Clinic will also be providing monthly information sessions about our services called “Let the Healing Begin.” Call or email for more information.
Is it a dull ache or intense pain? Pain with movement or at rest? Do you rush to the doctor or can you stay home and relax?
Often the cause of your back pain is obvious, and pain will occur within 24 hours of some irregular movement or motion such as:
Lifting a heavy object
Lifting from an awkward position
Falling, or rapid twists, jerks or motions (as in a motor vehicle accident)
If you have injured yourself in a motor vehicle or work place accident, it is best to seek medical advice immediately.
However, if you develop back pain after a simple strain or stumble, it may not be necessary to rush to the doctor immediately. An x-ray examination in such cases would likely not be ordered unless pain persists for several weeks or if a more serious injury or condition is suspected.
If your back pain seems to have occurred “out of nowhere” or you have minor pain you attribute to a simple strain, there are some preliminary assessments that may be helpful in helping you to decide what the problem is and what type of treatment would be most helpful.
If bending over or getting out of bed in the morning, getting up from a chair after a long period of sitting are the primary concern, and there has been no severe trauma, rest will usually ease the pain within a few days.
Pain that occurs when the sciatic nerve is stretched less than 60 degrees when doing the SLR test is a sign that a spinal nerve is pinched
Straight Leg Test for Sciatic Nerve Pain
Pinched spinal nerves may occur at any level in the spinal column, from the neck to the buttocks. If the pinched nerve causes pain to radiate down one leg, it may actually interfere with forward movement of the leg. To test for sciatic nerve involvement, lie on your back with straight legs. Have someone lift the affected leg as far as possible with a hand cupped under the ankle and your leg completely relaxed. If there is a pinched nerve in the lower spine, you will probably begin to feel pain with less than 60 degrees of straight leg raising. The most common cause is a herniated disc.
Severe pain accompanied by numbness or tingling in the affected thigh or leg can be a sign that a nerve is undergoing damage which, if uncorrected will result in weakness and loss of sensation in the muscles and skin supplied by the affected nerve.
There are three simple tests to help determine whether you have a pinched or damaged nerve and where the problem might be located:
Heel walk: Try walking on your heels, keeping the forepart of both feet OFF the floor. If you are unable to keep one of your feet from dropping flat to the floor, you might have nerve damage caused by an L4 or L5 herniated disc.
Toe walk: Try walking on your toes, keeping the heels of both feet off the floor. If the heel of one foot falls to the floor and you are unable to walk on your toes, you may have nerve damage due to an L5 disc herniation. If you discover weakness in your foot or leg, you should see a doctor.
Squat Test: Hold onto a bedpost or railing and squat halfway down, first favouring one leg and then the other. If one of your thighs are weak, you may have nerve damage from a disc herniation in the upper back.
The knee reflex can be tested by tapping just blow the kneecap with the edge of a thin book. Weakness of a thigh muscle or absence of a knee reflex indicate you SHOULD get to a doctor.
Back pain caused by a kidney stone is usually severe. Unlike a mechanical-type problem, where movement causes pain, the pain caused by a kidney stone will usually keep you from attempting movement of any kind. Kidney pain usually radiates into the groin and the inside of the thigh on the side of the stone is often accompanied by nausea and a cold sweat. If you suspect you may have a kidney stone, contact your doctor to find out whether you should go to the office or to a hospital emergency room.
You are not alone if you are frustrated with back and/or neck pain.
Can Spinal Decompression Therapy Help?
Only the common cold causes more people to miss work than neck and back pain. One of the services offered at Surrey Pain & Wellness Clinic is Spinal Decompression Therapy – a non surgical solution for people who suffer from low back and neck pain. When compared to standard surgical methods of curing back pain, spinal decompression offers many advantages:
1) Drug free – there are no medications required to participate in spinal decompression therapy treatments. In fact, if you are taking pain killers, muscle relaxants or anti inflammatory medications, your need for them should actually decrease.
2) Non invasive – and almost completely non-disruptive for the patient’s life. Depending on the type of surgery, would likely be bed-ridden or require a back brace for weeks. Spinal decompression therapy doesn’t require you to take long leave of absence from work or your other responsibilities at home or with your family. Instead, we work with you on a gradual return to your usual activities that you can enjoy pain free!
Treatments are pain free, and at no time should be painful or even uncomfortable. Some people even fall asleep during the treatment.
Once the computer traction device is set, the treatment begins with a very gentle progression towards a decompressive or what might feel like an anti-gravity state for your spine. While you are lying in a comfortable and relaxed position, the DTS system does its work, stretching and distracting the spinal column, creating a vacuum effect that decompresses the discs within the column. This vacuum effect can in many cases help retract or draw in the herniated disc that may be pinching the nerve. Most patients report this feels like a comfortable, gentle stretching sensation.
Patients should leave their spinal decompression therapy treatment (each session lasts around 20 minutes) feeling relaxed and refreshed and are able to go on about their day.
3) Recovery time – While most courses of treatment require 15 to 24 sessions, it is expected that you will have a dramatic reduction in pain within the first few sessions. It is advised that you continue with the full course as prescribed by your chiropractor in order to ensure that your spinal discs and the muscles that support them are stable enough to ensure long term results). When compared to surgical options, recovery time is often the same as surgery, but usually faster.
4) Cost - Many people have spent hundreds, even thousands of dollars on treatment and medication. Spinal decompression therapy treatments will also vary between practitioners, some costing several thousand dollars. While spinal decompression therapy is covered by most extended medical plans, call or visit our office so we can find a treatment plan that works for you – financially and for long term recovery.
As with any type of medical treatment, response rates and recovery times will vary from person to person – as well as between practitioners and equipment. Recovery takes time, but a focused treatment plan can help restore you to a fully functioning and pain-free lifestyle.
It is a good idea to consult with more than one chiropractor before deciding on a course of treatment. Many types of spinal rehabilitation therapies are relatively new and the possibility of success is far greater when you visit an experienced treatment-provider.
Let the Healing Begin…
Did you know that as primary health care providers, no referral is needed to see a chiropractic doctor?
If you have never visited a chiropractic doctor before, feel free to schedule an information session by calling 604.507.9929. There is no charge for this service.