I have a bad back!

It affects me in various ways – from mild discomfort at some points to crippling, severe pain and inability to walk, work and live a normal productive life. I am self-employed, and need to stay fit and active in my job. It is seasonal and can’t pick and choose my work days, so I am trying to aggressively treat this condition, rather than wait for the symptoms to go away.

I have always been a fan of Thai massage for the less painful times (and just for pleasure!), but I feel that in serious circumstances, a medical assessment/treatment program is advisable. I did not want to exacerbate the condition further.

The problem for me is that there seems to be significantly different advice in this area, with advocates of osteopaths, chiropractors, and also a focus on pro-active preventative methods such as Pilates and yoga.

I have been trying to discern the difference between the approaches, and better understand the right option for me.

Here is a quick summary to help others like me, who know very little about the various options out there.

Prevention better than cure

Both chiropractors and osteopaths are united in support of this. If you are prone to problems with movement then targeted, supervised stretching and breathing programs can hopefully stop any problems from arising in the first place. Try Pilates, yoga, swimming and stretching on the good days, to hopefully reduce the number of bad ones.

If your condition is chronic and prevents you undertaking these options, physio aside, the two conventional options out there are visiting the Osteopath & Chiropractor.

Chiropractor

This option was the first that I decided to try. I must confess to a bad knuckle clicking habit, I understand the relief and positive feeling gleaned from clicking ones bones! Perhaps this is why I went for this option first.

What’s the crack?

Chiropractors will treat the spine and look to manipulate various joints in order to alleviate pressure on nerves and muscles causing pain or restricted movement.

After an initial attraction, my more considered reaction to this method is one of a little hesitancy to be honest! I looked into the associated risk initially and found the potential dangers to be quite worrying!

 

I came across this article in the guardian outlining a reluctance in chiropractors to confront and report  fully any negative side effects after treatment.

https://www.theguardian.com/science/blog/2012/apr/27/chiropractic-manipulation-spine-strokes

These include a herniated disk or deterioration of an existing disk condition, cauda equina syndrome, which is a compounding of the nerves in the lower back, and in very extreme circumstances, causes issues associated with strokes and neurological conditions.

Much like any treatment there are horror stories, and I and I am widely assured that the majority of patients experience positive results after treatment.

Osteopathy

Osteopaths use a wider range of approaches to treat many various symptoms. It utilizes a holistic approach to the treatment, and prevention of muscular and skeletal problems, as well as ones overall health. It has far less out there in terms of horror stories, if anything is criticised for being a little hippy-dippy and lightweight. This is not my experience, and I would explain it as examining a broader number of factors than just problems with bone alignment (although this is also considered).

What attracted me to this was not only a thorough analysis of my lifestyle and past medical history, but also the coaching and rehabilitation work that was offered moving forwards, using elements of Pilates and other disciplines to build up and strengthen the areas that matter, and improve rather than just heal them.

I am walking tall after about 4 sessions, and actively sought to engage in the follow up yoga and Pilates programs after great results.

Prevention is better than the cure, but if you need help from a professional, do your research, get a recommendation if possible, and check the medical training and credentials of your practitionert.

Also, random tip! I drive a lot with my job. It turned out that keeping my wallet with cards in my back pocket whilst doing so can really have an effect on your back bum and even  neck!-if you drive/sit often, pay attention to your seating position

Jimmy D, Hemel