Treating the lumbar spine with chiropractic manipulation
Pain in the lumbar spine (the five vertebrae that make up the base of the spine) is one of the most common disorders in modern society. Nearly everyone experiences low back pain at some point in their lives. There are many possible causes of lower back pain, including sciatica, osteoarthritis, herniated disc and spinal stenosis. Chiropractic care is a conservative treatment option chosen by many patients to help relieve the pain caused by these conditions. To learn more about what chiropractic manipulation entails and how it can help treat lumbar spine conditions, read the following article.
What is chiropractic?
Chiropractic is a form of alternative medicine, invented in 1895. In its original form, chiropractic had a metaphysical element, in that it emphasized a belief that the body possesses an intelligence starting from birth and that spinal disorders interfered with that intelligence via the central nervous system. Beliefs like these have served to foster skepticism and controversy around chiropractic care in general.
Most chiropractors today mix the traditional chiropractic techniques of manual manipulation of the spine and joints with a more mainstream medical outlook. Chiropractic care tends to be holistic and may incorporate lifestyle coaching, exercise and general health advice. Chiropractic is a form of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM). As such, a chiropractor may also engage in other alternative medical treatments, like ultrasound and traction.
How do chiropractors treat lumbar spine conditions?
When a patient complains of lower back pain, a chiropractor will take a complete medical history, order tests and perform an examination to determine the cause. If the diagnosis can rule out an emergency condition and points toward more common injuries like bulging discs or spondylosis, the chiropractor will create a treatment plan which may include:
- Hot or cold therapy. Ice or heat packs may be applied to the lower back to reduce swelling, loosen muscles and relieve pain.
- Flexion-distraction. The patient lies flat on a table that is split in half horizontally. The chiropractor raises and lowers the bottom half of the table in a repetitive sequence. This causes the joints, vertebrae and muscles of the lower back to flex and stretch, with the goal of relieving pressure and tension and returning motion to the spinal joints.
- Electrical stimulation. Electrical impulses may be conducted to the muscles of the lower back through electrodes placed on the patient’s body. The expected result of this procedure is to fatigue the muscles to the point where they are forced to relax, thereby relieving tightness and stiffness.
- Manual manipulation. Manual manipulation is the main technique chiropractors use to relieve pain and is commonly called an “adjustment.” In manual manipulation, the chiropractor will use his or her hands to push and pull on the muscles and joints of the lumbar spine, as well as other areas that affect the lumbar spine. This manipulation may be gentle or more forceful. The goal is to relieve pain and pressure by correcting vertebral subluxations (out-of-alignment vertebrae) and re-aligning the spine.
Keep in mind that chiropractic treatments are still somewhat controversial, and may not be appropriate in every case. Be sure to check with your doctor to determine if your back pain may be helped by chiropractic treatments or by other forms of treatment.
Surgical alternatives for pain in the lumbar spine
If several weeks or months of chiropractic care and other forms of conservative therapy do not provide you with adequate relief, then contact Laser Spine Institute to learn how our minimally invasive spine surgery can relieve the pain in your lumbar spine. Our procedures offer a safer and effective alternative to traditional open spine surgery.^
Laser Spine Institute is the leader in minimally invasive spine surgery and has performed more than 75,000 patient procedures since 2005. Our highly skilled surgeons use minimally invasive decompression and stabilization procedures to relieve any pain and discomfort experienced due to a lumbar spine condition. To find out if you are a potential candidate for our outpatient surgery, ask our team for a free MRI review* today.