Back pain actually is quite common, especially as people get older. That's partly because degenerative problems take a long time to develop. It may also be because people are often less active as they get older, increasing the risk of weak muscles. Most people complain of lower back pain, but pain can occur anywhere along the spine and down into the tailbone. Injuries, poor body mechanics, postural problems, and weak abdominal muscles can all contribute to lower back pain.
Chiropractors use spinal manipulation (adjustment) to treat misalignment anywhere in the spine, including the lower back. Lower back pain, which is often known by other terms like sciatica and lumbago, often results in spinal joints that don't move properly. The chiropractor uses the hands or a device to apply controlled force to the joint, restoring normal motion. Manipulation may also help free up the lumbar facet joints – small joints on each side of the vertebrae (spinal bones).
Restoring proper alignment is only one of the therapies that may help lower back pain. Massage therapy can loosen tight muscles and relieve spasm, while acupuncture may also relieve pain. Specific exercises can help stretch and strengthen muscles, especially the abdominal muscles, which are often weak in people with lower back pain. The direct application of cold or heat may also reduce lower back pain.
Not all lower back pain can be prevented, but there are some self-management strategies that can help. Poor posture can contribute to back pain; chiropractors can help with postural correction. Body mechanics is another self-management area, as something like unsafe lifting techniques can easily create the necessary conditions for injury. A healthy diet and regular exercise keep muscles well nourished, strong and flexible, which promotes better balance and decreases the potential for injury. Nutritional counseling is one of the “little extras” chiropractors can offer.