We live better, richer lives than at any time in history. Even the great Kings of Egypt and ancient China did not have the luxuries that most of us consider commonplace today. We have machines and technology that makes life so easy, our ancestors would be jealous if they knew.
Unfortunately, our modern-day lives have made us more sedentary. While sitting or lounging around sounds like a dream, it’s actually killing our spine, our backs, and our joints! Our bodies were not designed to spend long periods of time sitting down.
In fact, an analysis of 13 studies found that those who sat for more than 8 hours a day had the same risks as someone who was obese or those of a heavy smoker according to Mayo Clinic!
With these facts in mind, is it any wonder that 80% of the world’s population have some type of back pain? Back pain alone accounts for more than 264 million lost workdays every year.
It’s More Than Just Sitting
While sitting is definitely not good for your back or your health in general, there are plenty of other things that send us off down the track to poor health, including:
- Poor posture
- Not getting exercise
- Carrying too much weight on one side of your body (heavy purses for example)
- Wearing high heels most of the time (or flip flops)
- “Weekend Warriors”
- Ignoring the pain
While you might be skimming over the above list thinking to yourself, “Yes, I know, blah blah blah.” You might think that you just don’t have time to be concerned with those “little things.” Besides, your aunt so-and-so has been carrying a heavy purse for years and she’s fine. How does anyone know if those things are really bad for you? Doesn’t everyone do them?
We’ve heard this before, so we would like you to take note of the last point. Let’s talk about ignoring the pain.
Why Don’t People See a Chiropractor When They are in Pain?
First, most people don’t see any type of doctor until the pain is fairly severe. Whether it’s fear of the doctor or fear of what the diagnosis might be, there is another factor; insurance.
The debate about how to fix America’s insurance problem goes on and we don’t want to discuss politics here, but the fact is that some insurance companies won’t cover chiropractic.
What many people don’t know, however, is that if their insurance does cover chiropractic care, they don’t need a referral. All 50 states allow a person to see a chiropractor first.
Even if your insurance doesn’t cover chiropractic care or if you have no insurance, you should know that chiropractors are extremely affordable when you consider the cost of a GP. Find a local chiropractor and talk about payment plans. This article about those with no insurance is very helpful.
Since pain is your body’s way of telling you that something is wrong, you should see a chiropractor sooner rather than later.
By the Way, There are a Few Things You Should Know First
Chiropractors are highly specialized and highly trained health care professionals. Some people believe that, because they do not write prescriptions, that they are somehow not “real” doctors. This isn’t the case.
When it comes to chiropractic, the focus is on the manipulation of the spine and treating the entire body, not just the symptoms. This means that a chiropractor won’t hand you prescription for pain medication and not treat the source of your pain. A chiropractor will!
Is chiropractic care suitable for all injuries and all conditions? Of course not. Then again, neither is surgery! Rest assured that, if your chiropractor sees that you need to see another type of specialist or health care professional, they will refer you to a qualified individual.
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Chiropractors Treat SO Much More Than Back Pain
Too many people think that the word chiropractor is synonymous with “back pain.” While that might be the main reason most people see a chiropractor, there are so many more health issues that chiropractic treats, including:
- Fibromyalgia Pain
- Stress and anxiety
- Improvement of or support of a healthy immune system
- Vertigo and dizziness
- Shoulder pain and frozen shoulder
- Ear infections or blocked ears
- Pinched nerves
These are just a few of the conditions that chiropractic care can treat. Let’s not forget the health problems many people see a chiropractor for such as sciatica pain, scoliosis, carpal tunnel, bursitis, spondylosis, tendonitis, and even sprains and strained muscles!
Next time you think of chiropractic, perhaps you won’t immediately think “back pain” but we hope you start thinking of words like “holistic healing”, health care professional, and/or drug-free therapy!
What Your Chiropractor Knows That You Don’t
While chiropractors are some of the friendliest people in the medical field, they can still be a bit on the quiet side when it comes to their practice.
No one wants to listen to a lecture or preaching from a doctor, so if your chiropractor doesn’t talk about some of his trade “secrets”, who can blame him.
Check out this list of 17 of the top secrets your chiropractor is keeping to themselves.
Secret #1- Feeling Better Does Not Mean You ARE Better
We get it. Your pain is unbearable. Whether it’s your back, your shoulder, neck, wrists, or knees, you want pain relief and you want it now. Who doesn’t? Your chiropractor does all the “grunt” work of X-rays, physical exams, taking your health history and, finally, setting up a treatment plan.
The problem is that too many people simply stop going to their appointments once their pain subsides. They return to their same lives and exercise routine. Feeling better is a great thing, don’t get us wrong, but it doesn’t mean that you have fully healed. Chances are that you are going to be back at the clinic with the same problem very shortly.
Don’t stop your treatment plan simply because you are feeling better! See it through to the end and you won’t regret the time spent improving your spine health.
Secret #2- That Back Pain Might Not BE Your Back
Imagine waking up several days in a row and your back is simply killing you! You keep thinking that if you rest, it will work itself out, but when it doesn’t, you finally go to see the chiropractor because…that back pain is unbearable!
The doctor does a full exam and wants to do X-rays or other imaging tests. Why?! Just do the adjustment and let’s be done with it you might be thinking. Hold on a minute. There IS a reason why. That back pain might not actually have anything to do with your back.
You could be experiencing pain from kidney stones or an infection, endometriosis, fibromyalgia, tumors or cancer near the spine, osteomyelitis (a bone infection), or even an aortic aneurysms or appendicitis.
While some of the above are uncommon, they aren’t unheard of. Allow your chiropractor to diagnose your issue so you can receive proper care.
Secret #3- When All Else Fails, Follow the Instructions
How many times have you just ripped open the box of some new device and then couldn’t figure out how to make it work? Oh wait, instructions! Why didn’t we read those first!
Don’t worry, everyone does this now and again. In the same way that instructions can help you put together and operate a device, the instructions that your chiropractor gives you need to be followed as well.
When you fail to do your “homework” or follow the instructions provided to you, you aren’t really fooling anyone. Your chiropractor will know. You are only hurting yourself in the end and you will make your recovery time even longer.
Don’t cheat yourself or your chiropractor. Follow instructions and do (or avoid doing) whatever you have been told. It really is for your own good!
Secret #4- It’s Not Always about the Rice Krispy Sounds
Most people associate those crunchy or cracking sounds with a “good” chiropractic adjustment. But what if that didn’t happen? Does no noise mean no adjustment occurred? Does silence mean no healing is taking place? No, just because you didn’t hear a snap, crackle, and/or pop noise doesn’t mean you didn’t receive an adjustment.
There are a variety of low force adjustments or even twisting methods that make no sound at all. Imagine being in a swimming pool. If you did the dog paddle and your arms never fully came out of the water, did that mean that you didn’t swim across the pool? Of course, you did, you simply used a different method than the traditional crawl.
If you aren’t sure or have questions about why a particular movement or adjustment didn’t cause any sound, speak to your chiropractor about your concerns. Studies have found that the expected “cracking” sound is more of a psychological relief than a physical one.
Secret #5- Stop Cracking It Yourself
OK, let’s face it, we all know someone who insists that they “don’t need no stinkin’ chiropractor”, as they twist their neck and crack it themselves.
Don’t be like that someone.
While self-manipulation is something nearly everyone can do, it’s generally a sign that there is an underlying problem. It’s true that a person might feel some relief after cracking their own back or neck, but the underlying issue remains unchanged and dysfunctional. When people continue to self-manipulate, the body responds by trying to stabilize the affected joints with arthritis.
Don’t let an undiagnosed problem go untreated by “cracking” your own back or neck for pain relief. You would be much better off seeing a chiropractor so you can address the source of your pain. Let Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab in Anchorage help you.
Secret #6- Addicted to Your Cell Phone- That’s Fine
Chiropractors and other health care professionals have noted that people who spend significant amounts of time on their cell phones end up with neck and/or upper back pain. This is due to the poor posture that comes from bending your head down to see the phone or slouching over at the waist and rounding your shoulders.
This is a more serious problem than most people realize. A study in The Spine Journal notes that young patients who shouldn’t be experiencing neck or back pain are dealing with serious spine alignment problems and even disc hernias!
Far be it from your chiropractor to suggest that you break that addiction. Why? Take a guess. That’s right, for some people, suggesting that they limit their cell phone use is like asking them to cut off their feet.
If your chiropractor suggests ways for you to use your cell phone that won’t hurt your neck or back or if they tell you that you should cut back, perhaps you should listen. It’s OK if you don’t, however. Your cell phone addition will keep them in business for years to come.
Secret #7- If You Love to Run Be Sure to Run Here
Every spring, thousands if not millions of runners take to the streets and parks to get back into their favorite sport. If running is your exercise of choice, you would be wise to run to your chiropractor at least a few times each year.
Your chiropractor can watch how you run and check for imbalances or posture issues. If necessary, they will correct spinal or other imbalances and improve the mobility of the joints. When you run with the correct biomechanics, you can prevent some of the most common overuse injuries.
Most runners wait until they are injured to seek out chiropractic care. Experienced runners are very attuned to their bodies and start to sense that something isn’t right before an injury occurs. This is the time to see your chiropractor. In fact, for those who are in training for marathons or other types of competition, being assessed by a sports chiropractor every 2 to 4 weeks during training can help keep you in the race by preventing injuries before they begin.
Secret #8 – Keep House Like Your Chiropractor
In addition to keeping your house like your chiropractor, you might want to keep your office the way they do as well!
By “keeping house”, we mean your living/working ergonomic environment. Unfortunately, too many people have furniture, or an office set up that doesn’t support proper posture. For example, if you lounge on your sofa to watch television, you should have a variety of pillows that support your lower back or head. The sofa shouldn’t be super low, which puts pressure on your knees, or too soft so that it puts pressure on your hips.
Your office workspace should have a chair with a backrest and be adjustable so that your feet can comfortably touch the floor. Your monitor should be high enough so that you aren’t tilting your head and looking up or down at it.
It’s the small things that will make a huge difference in the health of your joints and spine. If you aren’t sure what changes you should make to your home or office, speak to your chiropractor.
Secret #9- A Chiropractor is Not a “Spine Cracker”
While it’s true that adjustments sometimes cause a cracking noise, this doesn’t mean that your chiropractor is actually cracking anything. Similar to the sound you hear when you open a soda bottle, the noises you sometimes hear is nothing more than gas escaping a joint.
A lot of people think that chiropractors work with bones, but this isn’t exactly true. As holistic health care professionals, chiropractors work to restore the central nervous system. By stimulating and restoring the natural function of the nerves through adjusting the spine and other joints, healing can occur naturally.
Secret #10- Don’t Blame Your Chiropractor if You Do This
There is more to healing and good health than simply seeing a chiropractor and getting exercise. All of your hard work (and your chiropractor’s efforts) will amount to very little if you eat a poor diet, smoke, and overindulge in alcohol.
Alcohol is a particularly troublesome issue. While everyone knows the dangers of smoking, most people don’t understand what “moderate” drinking actually is. You can read about this in detail here.
Eating a diet high in processed, junk, or fast food is also another sure-fire way to flush the majority of your efforts at being health down the toilet. You don’t have to carry granola with you 24/7, but work on eating a natural, anti-inflammatory diet 80 percent of the time and the other 20 percent won’t matter.
Secret #11- If You Want Honesty, You Must Give It First
You would expect complete honesty from anyone in the health care industry, correct? In order to get accurate, honest results you need to be honest with your chiropractor when it comes to your health history and current lifestyle habits.
Some habits, such as smoking, will be fairly obvious, but other things, such as high-risk sexual behavior or previous surgeries, will only be known if you talk about them. Your chiropractor isn’t there to judge you or give you nagging lectures about morality. In order to help you, however, they do need to have a full understanding of what your body has gone through and what you are currently doing now that might affect your treatment.
Be brutally honest when filling out your medical history. Remember that all your records, as well as what you tell the chiropractor, are completely confidential.
Secret #12- Stop Listening to Well-Meaning People
While your family, friends, and co-workers probably have your best interests at heart, unless they are trained medical professionals (and no, your brother-in-law who works at the blood bank doesn’t qualify) they won’t have better advice than what your chiropractor is telling you.
For example, if you are having low back pain and someone tells you that you don’t need to see a chiropractor, all you need is yoga, keep in mind that while yoga is very good for your back, there are many reasons why someone has back pain. All the yoga in the world won’t help much if what you have is degenerative disc disease or even a kidney infection.
You need expert advice based on your individual needs, history, and physical makeup. There is no general one-size-fits-all fix when it comes to any type of pain, let alone back pain. Request a chiropractor’s appointment in Juneau with Better Health Chiropractic and receive a free 1-hour free massage certificate.
Secret #13- Try Chiropractic First, Then Surgery, Not the Reverse
Some people have a very belief in surgeons. There is an old saying that goes something like, ask a doctor what to do for a headache and he will give you a pill, ask a surgeon and he will suggest surgery.
The problem with seeing a surgeon first and going under the knife is that this isn’t always the best fix. Consider that musculoskeletal surgery is always permanent, but it isn’t always successful. When surgery doesn’t fix their problem, this is when most people turn to a chiropractor.
While chiropractic care can do a lot, it can’t reverse unnecessary or unsuccessful surgery. It would be much better if people received comprehensive chiropractic care first and if they don’t get the results they want, then seeing a surgeon, rather than the other way around.
Secret #14- Chiropractic is Not a Religion
It’s shocking that, even after more than 120 years, many people think of chiropractic, and chiropractors, as either quacks or some type of religion. When you hear someone say that they don’t “believe” in chiropractors, you know that they don’t understand chiropractic care at all.
Chiropractic is science based, not faith based. There are decades worth of research that backs up the effectiveness of treatments, including research done by those in the medical field, by academic institutions, even government agencies!
There is no magic or deity in chiropractic care. If someone doesn’t “believe” in chiropractic treatments, then they don’t believe in science, either.
Secret #15- Sometimes Things Get Worse
Like many physical problems, sometimes the pain gets worse before things get better. Before prescription drugs, people understood that a doctor’s job was to relieve symptoms while waiting for the body to heal itself. Today, people want an immediate end to their pain and when this doesn’t happen, they are certain that the treatment isn’t working.
Unfortunately, this isn’t how the body always works, especially when it comes to musculoskeletal issues. When the chiropractor performs movements or adjustments, the natural reaction from the body is to tense up the muscles to protect the body from further damage. This can lead to painful muscle spasms or soreness, which when added to the injury, can cause some intense pain.
This is why most chiropractors use massage therapy in addition to other treatments. Chiropractic massage relieves pain by relaxing tight or tense muscles, stopping muscle spasms and improving circulation, which speeds healing.
Secret #16 – Chiropractic Care is Extremely Safe
Despite sensationalized media coverage of rare but tragic events, chiropractic care is extremely safe for nearly everyone. Did you know that most chiropractors pay less than 2K a year in malpractice insurance? Compare that to the average $7,500 for a GP and $40,000 for surgeons! Even insurance companies know that the risk of chiropractic care is very, very low.
The truth about neck adjustments is that your risk of experiencing a problem from one is about 1 in 5 million. Consider that having a serious accident while driving your car is about 1 in 77. Or that the risk of dying from taking those over the counter pain relievers is about 1 in 1,200.
Everything you do in life comes with some type of risk. When you consider the facts and look at recent studies involving neck adjustments, it becomes clear that chiropractic is safe and effective for almost everyone.
There are a few exceptions. Some people with certain health problems or conditions shouldn’t have adjustments at all. Patients who should not have neck adjustments include:
- Anyone with a history of strokes in their family
- Those with high blood pressure
- Anyone with bone cancer or bone infections
- If you have a neck fracture or dislocations
- Anyone taking blood thinners
There is a more complete list available in this article.
We also want to mention that chiropractic care is also safe and effective for children as well. Children are often involved in sports and other activity outdoors that result in injuries. You wouldn’t think twice about taking your child to the dentist for a checkup, even if they aren’t complaining of pain, why not do the same with your chiropractor? Bring your child with you for your next appointment and show them that there is nothing to be afraid of. We bet your child feels so good afterward that they start ASKING to see the chiropractor again. That probably won’t be true for the dentist, however!
Secret #17- Your Attitude Matters Almost as Much as Treatment
Our minds are powerful tools that can help us or hinder us. Your subconscious is always listening and it believes everything you tell it. If you have ever faked an illness to get time off of work and then felt so terrible by the end of the day you thought you might actually BE coming down sick, then you have experienced the power of the mind.
It’s been proven in studies, such as this one, that those who have a positive attitude will heal faster and experience less pain than those who have a negative mindset.
So, imagine that your chiropractor, massage therapist, and other health care professionals are putting all their powers together to heal you. Picture yourself in perfect health and recite positive mantras every day. Your subconscious is listening!
Secret #18 – Your Sleep Position Matters
If you think that which position you sleep in doesn’t matter, think again. Sleeping on your stomach is really bad for your neck! It also causes wrinkles. Sew a tennis ball into the front of a t-shirt or pajama top so you won’t sleep on your stomach. Within a few months, it will become a habit that can save you lots of neck and shoulder pain down the road.
Secret #19 – Chiropractors Aren’t Psychologists But …
While chiropractors aren’t therapists, they know that your mental health impacts everything else in your life, including your chemical and physical health. Stress and depression cause inflammation, tight muscles, and hormone changes that are very harmful to the body.
Your chiropractor can suggest ways of dealing with stress and anxiety, such as chiropractic massage, yoga, even adjustments are terrific stress relievers, but other mental health issues require therapy. Don’t neglect your mental health! Prioritize self-care and speak to your chiropractor or GP about your options for mental health issues.
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Your Chiropractors Tips for Preventing Back Pain and Injury
As we stated earlier, it’s not just about sitting for long periods of time. There are plenty of other things you can do to prevent back injury and neck or back pain. Some of the best tips come from chiropractors themselves and these include:
- Wear comfortable, low-heeled shoes as much as possible
- Sleep on a medium-firm mattress
- Replace your pillow every 2-5 years
- Stop smoking
- Drink alcohol in moderation or quit drinking altogether
- Avoid long periods of inactivity
- Eat a healthy diet and maintain a healthy weight
- Be proactive in your own health by getting annual vaccines and regular checkups from your doctor, your chiropractor, and your dentist
- Be certain that you know how to safely lift heavy objects
- Maintain good posture
- Stretch every morning and every night
- Exchange sit-ups for planks
- Prop up your arms so you don’t bend your neck to look at your cell phone or tablet. If you can’t do this, take frequent breaks and stretch your neck
- Adjust and use the headrest in your car
- Avoid sleeping on your stomach
- Get regular chiropractic massages to reduce stress
If you have never been to a chiropractor before, you might be a little nervous. This is understandable. You don’t need to worry, however. Your chiropractor isn’t going to do anything that you don’t agree to first.
For those who are worried that those adjustments are going to hurt, you absolutely need to read this article about what they really feel like. You will feel far less anxious after reading about adjustments and what you can expect.
If you recently had adjustments and you have questions about some sensations you might be feeling, this article explains what is going on and what is normal after your first few adjustments.
A Few Little-Known Facts and Chiropractic Stats and Your Spine
Chiropractic is one of the most misunderstood parts of the health care industry. Even if you see your chiropractor regularly, chances are that you don’t know everything there is to know. We made a list of a few chiropractic facts, interesting things about your spine, and chiropractors in general.
- Chiropractors don’t “have it easy.” Read this article about an average day in the life of a chiropractor; it’s not what you think!
- Chiropractors are the third largest group of medical practitioners
- About 1 in every 10 Americans will visit a chiropractor this year
- Chiropractic is the fastest-growing primary health care profession
- Your spinal cord is about the width of your index finger
- There are more than 100 joints in the spine alone
- When your spine is kept properly aligned, it will almost never degenerate or develop painful arthritis
- The founder of chiropractic is Daniel David Palmer, who restored a patient’s hearing back in 1895
- All 32 National Football League teams use chiropractors, as do many Olympic teams
- Dr. Charles Robinson Johnson became the first blind chiropractor. He practiced for a full 25 years in New York and had a very successful business
- Did you know chiropractic is terrific at stopping migraines? Read about it here
Your body is a self-regulating, self-healing organism. The brain is a master processor, and it experiences the world, as well as controls your body, via the central nervous system. It only makes sense that to visit your chiropractor when you have pain, and even when you don’t have pain, to address any problems with the spine. This is especially true after any accident, no matter how minor.
You are the sum of all your choices in this life. Make a choice to be proactive with your health and don’t put off seeing your local chiropractor.
We hope you found this article helpful. If so, please feel free to share it on social media or with friends and family.
If you are experiencing pain or are having any type of health problem, the helpful chiropractors at Better Health Chiropractic and Physical Rehab encourage you to call one of our 4 clinics for a same-day appointment. If you prefer, you can make an appointment online here.
At Better Health Chiropractic and Physical Rehab, we don’t want to see anyone live life in pain. Take a step on the road towards healing and call us today for an appointment!
About the Author
Dr. Brent Wells, D.C. founded Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab and has been a chiropractor for over 20 years. His practice has treated thousands of patients from different health problems using services designed to help give long-lasting relief.
Dr. Wells is also the author of over 700 online health articles that have been featured on sites such as Dr. Axe, Organic Facts, and Thrive Global. He is a proud member of the American Chiropractic Association and the American Academy of Spine Physicians. And he continues his education to remain active and updated in all studies related to neurology, physical rehab, biomechanics, spine conditions, brain injury trauma, and more.