Chronic back pain treatment has both similarities and differences from acute back pain treatment. Chronic, by definition, is a condition that has been symptomatic for a period of time longer than three months. At my chiropractic clinic in San Diego we often see new patients who have been experiencing symptoms for years and have never received any type of structured treatment. In many cases, these patient’s pain began as an acute episode that they either ignored or simply took OTC medications (Aleve, Tylenol, Motrin, etc) which reduce the pain without addressing the actual problem – this is a typical pathway that allows an acute injury to become chronic back pain.
Chiropractic Care For Chronic Back Pain
Regarding joint pain, as a general rule, the longer you have a problem the longer it takes to resolve. The same is true for chronic back pain. That is why it is so important to get treatment for back pain as soon as you become aware of your problem. Acute injuries involve soft tissue damage that can included sprained ligaments, strained muscles and cartilage damage. When these tissues are injured they produce inflammation which triggers scar tissue formation. In some cases, scar tissue hampers normal joint motion – it can restrict or alter the joints range of motion which creates a perfect scenario for chronic pain. Chronic back pain is accompanied by chronic local inflammation which leads to increasing amounts of scar tissue which perpetuates the pain cycle.
Chiropractic care for chronic back pain begins with eliminating the cycle of inflammation and scar tissue build up. In my office we do electrical muscle stimulation and therapeutic ultrasound to reduce inflammation and soften scar tissue. We also ask our patients to use ice packs at home and to perform specific stretches and exercises in order to reduce pain and help restore normal range of motion to the joints. Finally, chiropractic adjustments are performed to help restore full range of motion and reduce pain. This combination is extremely effective with most patients feeling improvement almost immediately.