Did you know that a 2017 low back pain and sciatica guideline in the British Medical Journal recommended exercise as the first line of treatment? Exercises such as stretching, strengthening, aerobic, yoga, or Tai Chi in a group setting were recommended as the main component of non-invasive treatment.
The guideline recommended manual therapy (manipulation) to be used with the exercise. Interestingly they did not recommend electric therapies (such as electric muscle stimulation) or acupuncture.
As a Doctor of Chiropractic, I wholeheartedly agree that exercise needs to be part of the treatment. Anyone that has been a patient of mine will attest that I regularly stress the importance of exercise. I explain to patients that the stretches and exercises that I give them are as important as brushing and flossing for your dentist. If you do not brush or floss your check-ups will be worse and you are more likely to have problems such as cavities. If you do not do your stretches and exercises the effects of your adjustment will not last as long and you are more likely to have flare-ups of pain. When I meet someone that tells me they tried Chiropractic but it didn’t work because the pain returned, I always ask if they were doing their exercises and they usually say no.
One problem with the guidelines is that when a patient is in significant pain they may not be able to do any of the exercises and may need Chiropractic or some kind of treatment initially so they can move.
The other problem is those that are not in movement limiting pain may start an exercise regime and have their pain resolve. Some of you may be thinking how could that be a problem if the pain is gone? If you had mouth or tooth pain and you never brushed or flossed your teeth then suddenly started, causing the pain to resolve, does that mean you do not need to see a dentist? Of course not, you would go to find dental problems that need professional attention to save your teeth.
It is the same with your spine, even though you are feeling better a Chiropractic check-up can find problems early and help you maintain a higher level of health and reduced days with pain, you may remember an earlier newsletter where I discussed a study on this topic. The patients that I see only when they are in pain generally suffer from more physical limitations that they see as “just part of aging”. Whereas those getting regular check-ups and exercising are enjoying an active lifestyle into 70’s, 80’s and beyond.
The main point is that to relieve your pain and truly get healthy, just exercising is not the answer. Exercise if part of a healthy lifestyle, which includes diet, rest, good attitude, and check-ups with your health professional team. Call us about what a check-up schedule would look like for you.