Back pain is the most common reason that people seek chiropractic care. Experts estimate that as many as 80% of the population will experience a back problem at some time in our lives.
(1) There are countless causes of low back pain ranging from the benign act of sitting to the serious emergency event of an abdominal aortic aneurysm. Although we cannot address all the causes of back pain on this page, chiropractors are well trained in ruling out emergency intervention situations and addressing the primary cause of most back pain, which is a spinal subluxation.
Pain itself is a very in-depth and well researched subject. One of the most simple concepts of pain is understood through the nerve messages known as proprioception and nociception.
Proprioception is the nerve message that communicates with the brain regarding the motion and alignment of all your joints. This is why you can close your eyes and you still know exactly where your hands and feet are regardless of their position in space.
Exactly the opposite of proprioception is nociception. When a joint loses proper alignment or motion, the signal of nociception is communicated to the brain to let the body know of this dysfunction. The nociception message itself is unconscious and not pain, but there is a threshold in the brain, like a bucket filling with water. Once the brain experiences a certain threshold of nociception, then it will become consciously aware of a problem and perceive pain.
This is why people can have spinal subluxations for years without experiencing any pain, then one day they bend over to tie their shoe or pick up an empty laundry basket and their back “goes out” crippling them with back pain. The spinal subuxation was there for years, but your body just reached the threshold.
Chiropractic adjustments help to restore proper alignment and motion of spinal joints, which improve proprioceptive messages to the brain and inhibit nociceptive messages, which will decrease pain.
- Vallfors B. Acute, Subacute and Chronic Low Back Pain: Clinical Symptoms, Absenteeism and Working Environment. Scan J Rehab Med Suppl 1985; 11: 1-98.