The American Chiropractic Association (ACA) has declared this October to be National Chiropractic Health Month. This year’s theme is "Conservative Care First!"
Conservative care for people with back pain means using non-surgical options to rehabilitate the spine. Most back pain, neck pain, and related spinal conditions can be treated through conservative care. Surgery is typically only considered if conservative treatments fail, the pain has lasted for an extended period of time, and the individual's daily activities are affected.
In honor of this year's National Chiropractic Health Month's theme, here's a list of conservative treatments for the spine that we cover extensively on Spine.health.com:
Chiropractors are health professionals that rely on a variety of manual therapies, including spinal manipulation, mobilization, and adjunctive therapies like cold laser therapy, to improve function and provide pain relief for patients.
Acupuncture is an ancient form of Chinese medicine that uses hair-thin metallic needles to stimulate the nervous system and relieve pain for some people. Patients respond to acupuncture differently, and there are some important guidelines to consider before you try this therapy.
Patients who experience pain in the lower back and/or legs during prolonged weight-bearing activities such as walking or standing may benefit from wearing a pneumatic vest. Pneumatic vests are custom-made, and they help take pressure off of the lower spine.
The Alexander technique
The Alexander technique is a series of educational lessons designed to help patients become more aware of the mind-body connection. The theory behind the technique is that normal wear and tear on the muscles and ligaments in the body can lead to pain. The goal is to teach patients how to conduct everyday activities like walking, standing, and sitting in a way that minimizes the effects of tension on the body.
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Heat and cold therapy
Used properly, heat and cold therapy can be surprisingly effective in healing and pain relief. Visit our Heat and Cold Therapy Health Center for a complete listing of educational articles about how to benefit from this simple and inexpensive type of therapy.
Over-the-counter and prescription pain medications play an important role in helping back pain patients. They can help patients achieve enough pain relief to start a physical therapy rehabilitative program in order to heal the root cause of their pain. Knowing the risks and benefits of the different pain medications will help you and your physician make a good choice for your pain management.
Exercise and physical therapy Actively engaging in a rehabilitation and exercise program can have a significant impact on your back pain. A good exercise program should incorporate stretching, strengthening, and aerobic exercises. All these will improve the overall health of your spine. Our website is full of articles and videos to help get you started, and you can check with your doctor to see if he or she recommends you visit a physical therapist.
Injections may be indicated if medications and physical therapy are not working to relieve a spine patient's pain. They can be more effective than oral pain medications because they deliver pain medications and anti-inflammatory medications directly to an anatomical lesion. There has been much discussion about injections on our Facebook page and in our forums about whether or not injections work for back pain relief. It seems that injections definitely DO work for some people and definitely DO NOT work for others, but the reason for the discrepancy is not clear.
See Pain Medication
A word on chiropractors during ACA's National Chiropractic Health Month:
Spine-health.com would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the important work chiropractors do to help patients remain pain free. Chiropractors focus on a whole-health approach to reducing back pain and promote exercise to keep their patients healthy.