There is a common assumption that if you go to the chiropractor complaining of lower back pain, they will adjust your spine and send you on your way. Indeed, this may happen sometimes. But most chiropractors first want to figure out why you're suffering lower back pain, or what's causing your lower back pain. This enables them to better tailor their treatments to suit your particular needs. So, with that in mind, take a look at some of the most common causes of lower back pain and how chiropractors treat them.
You may think of sprains as occurring in the ankle, but they can actually occur in any joint where ligaments are involved, and that includes the joints of your spine. If your lower back pain came on suddenly after you lifted something, bent to the side, or otherwise physically exerted yourself, then there's a good chance you're dealing with a sprained ligament. (You may have a muscle tear in there, too!)
A chiropractor will typically be very gentle when treating a sprained lower back. They'll adjust you gently to take pressure off the strained area, but then they'll tend to rely on low-intervention therapies like cold therapy, gentle massage, and stretches. Ligament sprains generally heal fully within a few months.
You can herniate a disc anywhere in your back, but it is a really common injury in the lower back since this portion of the spine supports much of your weight. When you herniate a disc, basically some of the intervertebral disc tissue between the vertebrae bulges out to one side. The bulging tissue puts pressure on nerves, leading to intense and lingering back pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness.
For a herniated disc, a chiropractor will typically adjust the spine to take pressure off the area. They'll also perform exercises to increase the space between your vertebrae so that the disc tissue can slowly work its way back in. They may also recommend hot pads to increase circulation to the area and speed healing.
Sciatica can occur as the result of a herniated disc, but it can also be caused by narrowing of the spine and compression of the spinal column. The primary symptom is pain in the lower back that also radiates down the buttocks and into the upper legs. The pain may have a sharp, stinging quality and may be accompanied by numbness.
In addition to adjusting your spine, your chiropractor may also make some recommendations for ways you can change your posture to help combat sciatica. Changing the way you move and sit can help reduce inflammation in the area, alleviating pressure on the sciatic nerve.
Lower back pain can occur for any number of reasons. Once your chiropractor has a better idea of the reason for your pain, they can treat you more effectively.