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Before Seeking Treatment for Low Back Pain

The other day, an acquaintance, knowing that I am a chiropractor, asked me for the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth on whether he should or shouldn't see a chiropractor for his chronic low back pain.

He explained that as he goes about his work each day, the dull ache in his lower back gradually turns into sharp pain that sometimes radiates into his hips and buttocks. By 3 or 4 pm each day, his pain typically gets severe enough to cause him to pack up his bags, go home, and lie down for a couple of hours until he can move again.

After gathering more information about his health history and current symptoms, and noting that he is carrying at least 50 pounds of weight that his body doesn't need, I told him that his best bet is to work at getting to a healthier weight for his structure.

The way to think about extra weight and back pain is this: Imagine that for every 10 unnecessary pounds that you are carrying, you're going about all of your daily activities with a 10-pound bag of potatoes tied to your trunk.

Think about the stress that this extra weight is putting on all of the joints in your spine, hips, knees, ankles, and feet.

Over time, this stress is going to damage your joints and the soft tissues that surround and lie between your joints, which will trigger bouts of inflammation that will cause low back pain.

Getting these joints adjusted may provide temporary relief, since proper spinal adjustments can promote improved joint motion and blood flow and possibly better nerve tone in the area being treated. But if you continue to carry more body weight than you need, you're virtually guaranteed to have chronic low back problems, even with regular spinal adjustments.

The same holds true for getting a deep tissue massage for chronic low back pain. Your muscles and fascia will be better for the masssage in the short term, but if you don't get to an optimal weight for your structure, you're bound to have recurrent episodes of inflammation and pain.

Beyond striving to get at a healthy weight for your structure, other ways to help prevent back pain include:

  1. Aim to get solid rest each day. Poor quality sleep predisposes all of your tissues to injury. Do whatever you have to do to wake up every morning feeling refreshed.

  2. As you go about your daily activities, be mindful of using your gluts (bum muscles) and abs to keep your pelvis and lower back stable. For more information on this tip, please view:

    Simple Habit to Help Keep Your Lower Back Strong and Healthy

  3. Ensure that your hamstrings are at a healthy length, as tight hamstrings can create an unstable pelvis that increases the likelihood of injuring a tissue in your lower back region. For more information on how to do this, please view:

    Effective Exercise for Preventing Low Back Pain

Hope these suggestions are helpful. I personally struggle with consistently getting quality sleep, as my wife and I continue to co-sleep with our boys. But through personal experience and in working with countless people who have suffered with chronic low back pain over the years, I can vouch for the effectiveness of the tips mentioned here.

If you have any questions or thoughts on this topic, please feel free to share via the comments section or Facebook connect section below. Thank you.


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I also suffered on and off for years with lower-back aches and pain that often radiated excruciatingly through the buttocks and hips, and sometimes also down a nerve in my leg. The pain interfered with sleep because of its intensity and the difficulty of finding a tolerable sleeping position. I abandoned chiropractic treatments because they had only minimal, inconsistent effects.

When I began trying to deal with chronic constipation by taking strong herbal laxatives and doing enemas, I noticed that the back, hip and nerve pain went away quickly after a thorough evacuation. But those methods created problems with long-term use. Now while I work on trying to change my diet, do more walking and lose weight, my new acupuncturist/herbalist and my new chiropractor have prescribed some Chinese herbal combinations that gently soften and lubricate the stool, and also a powdered form of magnesium citrate (Natural Calm - can I say that here?) taken at bedtime to bring more water into the stool, relieve leg cramps, and improve my sleep. That regimen (including drinking enough water) produces two or three easy bowel movements a day, regardless of how well I do with my diet and exercise on any given day. Never underestimate the ability of masses of rock-hard, slow-moving feces to wreak havoc - not only in the areas immediately adjacent to the intestines, but also along every meridian in the body. For me, regular bowel movements eliminate back/hip/nerve pain and allow me to have better sleep and more productive activity.

Thank you, delightful Dr. Ben Kim, for your wonderful information and inspiration, and for the best and easiest recipes I have found anywhere!

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your advice on how to treat low back pain and the article "Simple Habit to Help Keep Your Lower Back Strong and Healthy"! I have had chronic low back pain for several years as a result of having secondary progessive multiple sclerosis. The muscles of my abdomen and gluts became so weak from the lack of nerve stimulation for years that my body basically "forgot" how to walk correctly. I've had years of physical therapy and daily exercise, but still it is so painful to my back, hips and knees to walk and stand that I mostly sit or lay down all day. Your simple advice has made a difference in my ability to walk and stand in just the past week! It seems that my body is responding to squeezing my gluts and holding my abdomen strong, but it just didn't remember how to put it all together when in an upright position. I have been wishing that I would find a person who could help me understand the mechanics of walking correctly, and you have helped put me on the right path. I look forward to improving and perhaps being able to walk again someday without pain. Thanks a million!

Thank you, Dr Kim. I suffer from the same symptoms with my back. I'm a pharmacist, so I stand all day. I have worked on and off the past decade so can safely say the problem is only when I am working (standing) all day. The interesting thing is that I have the same pain when I weigh 105 pounds and have a 6-pack (abs) or am heavier and in not such great shape. I have regular bowel movements. Have tried Yoga (I'm a certified teacher), but it seems to make it worse. Any comments?