Back pain is one of the most common reasons worldwide for missed work days and doctor visits. Most people, about 80% of adults, will experience back pain at least once in their lifetime. Unlike other health conditions that may favor men or women, back pain doesn’t discriminate. Men and women are equally affected, making back pain one of the most burdensome conditions a person can experience.
One of the most difficult parts about back pain to address is the spectrum of how it can present. It can range from a dull, achy annoyance to sudden, sharp, and debilitating pain. Back pain may come on gradually over a long period of time and be related to wear and tear, age-related changes, or a sedentary lifestyle. It may also happen abruptly as a result of an injury from lifting, sports, or motor vehicle accident.
#1: Lighten the load
It’s not only heavy lifting that can cause back pain, but it’s also the day-to-day loads that people carry around. From briefcases to purses to arms full of groceries, carrying one-sided or awkward loads can take its toll on your back. Children are not exempt from this either – many school-aged kids are shouldering more weight than they should in their backpacks. Thankfully, there are some easy solutions to this problem. Everyone can benefit from emptying out their daily bag, briefcase, or purse and removing the extraneous items that accumulate over time. If you do need to carry around heavier loads, choosing a backpack helps to distribute the weight more symmetrically rather than carrying it over one shoulder or in one hand.
#2: Put out your cigarette
Aside from the obvious health risks that smoking poses, smokers are also more susceptible to developing back pain than their non-smoking peers. Smokers can experience a decrease in bone density, leading to weaker bones and a higher likelihood of injury. The nicotine in cigarettes also reduces blood flow to the discs in your spine, which can deprive them of the oxygen and nutrients they need to stay healthy. When disc degenerate, they can cause pain and irritation to the nerve roots causing back pain and loss of mobility.
#3: Work ergonomically
Whether you spend your work days moving around or sitting at a desk, going about your daily tasks in an ergonomic matter can help protect your back from injury. Avoiding rounding your shoulders and slouching forward no matter if you’re sitting or standing. If your job requires lifting, be sure to carry heavy loads as close to your body as possible and bend from the knees to pick things up from the floor. When sitting in an office chair, make sure that your knees are positioned slightly higher than your hips and choose a chair that offers good lumbar support. Sit-to-stand workstations also provide a good option for varying your work position throughout the day.
#4: Strengthen your core
Your core provides much-needed support and stability for your back, especially your lumbar spine. Your core is more than just your abs, it also includes muscles along the sides of your body, in your back along the spine, your diaphragm, and the muscles of the pelvic floor. If your core is weak, then your body may start to rely more on tissues like your spinal ligaments, discs, and even your vertebrae themselves, for stability which can lead to back pain. Getting regular exercise and incorporating core-targeting movements like plank, side plank, and bird-dog can help to protect your lower back from pain, strain, and muscle spasm.
#5: Check your neck
One of the most overlook sources of back pain is actually in the neck. The atlas (C1) vertebra sits at the very top of the neck and forms a junction with the head. Your atlas is the most freely movable vertebra in the entire spine. When it misaligns from either injury or wear and tear, it causes the head to be carried off-balance. This forces the rest of your spine into a stressed position to compensate in order to keep your head in as neutral of a position as possible and your eyes level with the horizon. An atlas misalignment can cause your shoulders and hips to be uneven, leading to mid-back pain, low back pain, and radiating pain that can travel along the course of the sciatic nerve. Having their atlas alignment checked by an upper cervical chiropractor has helped many chronic back pain sufferers get to the root cause of their condition.
What Makes Upper Cervical Chiropractic Care Different?
Upper cervical chiropractic care is a subspecialty of chiropractic that focuses on the uppermost part of the neck – the atlas (C1), the axis (C2) and how they relate to the skull that sits on top of them. This area is critical to the overall health of the rest of the spine. The positioning (normal or abnormal) of the upper cervical vertebrae has the potential to have an impact on the way the rest of the spine can move and function.
Upper cervical care is unique in that we take an extremely thorough and detailed approach so that we can attain the best results in as few adjustments as possible. Very precise diagnostic imaging is used so that we can take accurate measurements of how spinal alignment has shifted. This is important since we are then able to craft the perfect adjustment for each of our patients. Such a personalized approach to care allows us to give low-force corrections to restore normal alignment as well as normal neurological function, blood flow, and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) dynamics. Even though our area of focus is narrow, upper cervical care is one of the best ways to keep your entire spine and nervous system working well.
Most upper cervical chiropractors offer a complementary or low-cost consultation so that you can learn more about this natural, effective way to find lasting relief. If you are suffering from back pain that hasn’t responded well to other modalities, even a more general chiropractic approach, contact an upper cervical practitioner in your area to see if this is the missing piece you’ve been looking for.
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