Lower back pain is nothing to laugh at – in fact laughing probably just makes it hurt worse. Drs. George and Stefanie Olar at 360 Chiropractic in Lacey understand that ongoing lower back pain can stop people from working and doing what they love, so getting them back on their feet quickly, is important to them. That’s where their multi-faceted treatment comes in. Being able to offer several treatment options under one roof may help patient’s get relief from back pain quicker than one treatment alone.
Brent, a patient at 360 Chiropractic, first came to Dr. George due to lower back pain. As a veterinary assistant he has a pretty physical job, and then couple that with his own farm work at home that includes chopping wood for the woodstove, and it’s no wonder he has some back pain. But rather than just adjusting him and telling him to take some over the counter pain medications, Dr. George did a full examination including x-rays and physical condition tests to find out what was causing the pain in the first place.
X-rays revealed a common problem many people have, one leg shorter than the other, some arthritis, an improper curve to the spine and a compressed disc with bone spurs. It’s something many people deal with every day. “What people may not realize, is that having something as small as a leg 7mm shorter than the other, can be detrimental to your entire skeletal structure and biomechanics, starting with the lower back,” explains Dr. George.
At this point, Dr. George and Dr. Stefanie can make recommendations for the best course of treatment to not only alleviate current pain, but to help prevent it from coming back. “Yes, people can keep taking over the counter pain medications, but long-term usage is hard on the organs, especially the liver and the kidneys,” he shares. “Dr. Stefanie and I like to treat the patient holistically and naturally, to alleviate the pain so they don’t need to take the medications.”
The first step is reducing the current pain, which can be quite excruciating. Brent was having a hard time even getting out of bed. “The pain in my back was so bad I missed a couple days of work,” he shares. “And I couldn’t chop wood for my wife to heat our home. I knew I had to get back to my duties quickly, but I also knew I wanted to avoid surgery if I could.”
Some of the home care that Dr. George recommends to patients, depending on their individual circumstance, includes ice and heat therapy; activity restrictions; natural supplements to reduce inflammation; bed rest; supports for sitting in a chair or bed; and easy, careful stretching.
Next is to bring back that all important function. At 360 Chiropractic, they help alleviate lower back pain through adjustments, laser therapy and massage. “It’s vital to get those bones unstuck, where they are compressing or pinching,” explains Dr. George. “For example, if one bone in the foot gets stuck, it causes a cascading event where the other 25 bones in the foot have to stabilize and work harder. This transfers up the body to the knee, hip, and then to the low back. So, when looking at low back pain, we assess the patient’s surrounding joints.”
Having chiropractic adjustments, coupled with cold laser to heal the tissue around the joint and reduce pain, and massage therapy, can relieve the pressure on the disc and any nerves that may be being pinched. Once that happens, the body’s own ability to heal itself can take place unprohibited restoring balance.
The Importance of Good Footwear in Lower Back Pain Patients
Remember that Brent has one leg shorter than the other? When he was young, he jumped off a rope swing and broke his growth plate. It’s a common story, says Dr. George, who also broke a growth plate of his own and has a shorter leg. And often, for lower back pain sufferers, the feet are the culprit, which is why Dr. George has a 3D machine to measure patients’ feet to get fit for custom orthotics from Foot Levelers.
In 2017 a study was reported in the Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation on the effectiveness of Foot Levelers orthotics. “Six weeks of wearing custom orthotics reduced low-back pain by 34.5 percent, and improved function by 18.5 percent,” says Dr. Mark Charrette in his article “The Connection Between Orthotics and Low-Back Pain.” When coupled with chiropractic care in addition to orthotics there was a 32.3% improvement in function.
Why custom? Yes, you can buy shoe inserts at department stores, and some work okay, but Foot Levelers takes an actual photo and laser scan of your feet and their individual needs. Sometimes each foot needs a slightly different insert, especially if you have a shorter leg, in order for you to get maximum results. “When there is a leg-length discrepancy (whether anatomical or functional), the pelvis will tilt to one side. This asymmetry causes vertebral rotation and recurrent subluxation, and possibly even a functional scoliosis,” writes Charrette. “The correct use of orthotics (occasionally with added heel-lift) can provide substantial correction for structural short legs.”
There are many other foot abnormalities that can also cause low-back, and sometimes foot pain. Plantar fasciitis being one of them. For those with sharp heel pain, and possibly related low-back pain, orthotics can be a game changer. “A flexible orthotic with a heel spur cut-out will improve gait and lessen the impact of this condition on the pelvis and spine,” writes Charrette.
At 360 Chiropractic, the multi-faceted approach to low back pain gets patients back to their day-to-day routines and may even replace surgery, like it has for Brent. “After just a couple weeks of treatment, I am already doing much better,” he shares. “I don’t plan on doing surgery any time soon, and now I can get back to my daily duties at work and at home.”
“We want to make sure we are not just focused on one region of the patient due to discomfort,” explains Dr. Stefanie, “otherwise, their pain could possibly come back. When treating a patient with low back pain we must consider the joints of the lower extremities to rule out their effect on the patient’s structural stability.”
For more information and to schedule an appointment, visit the 360 Chiropractic website or call 360.923.0360.