Back Pain

Nearly 80% of Americans have back pain at some point in their lives and it is one of the most common painful and non-life-threatening conditions. It can range from a dull, constant ache to a sudden, sharp pain that may shoot down the leg. Sometimes it can come on suddenly – from an accident, a fall, or lifting something heavy, or it can develop slowly because of age-related degenerative changes in the spine. In some cases, inflammatory arthritis disorders or other medical conditions cause back pain.

Typical Causes of Back Pain:

  • Injury and Accidents: A sudden forced movement of the back that can result in injury to the spine including fracture, breakage, or injuiry to the spinal nerves.
  • Age: Over time, the bones and joints in your lower back begin to change. Your discs (the structures that serve as cushions between the bones in the spine) tend to wear out and sometimes become fragmented.
  • Herniated Disc: A disc pushes outside its normal space along the spine and presses on a nerve and can cause variety of nerve-related symptoms including pain, numbness and muscle weakness.
  • Sciatica: The sciatic nerve that leads into the buttocks, thigh and leg causes pain along those areas due to a herniated disc, injury, or a pinched nerve within the buttocks. Sciatica can happen in late pregnancy as ligaments get looser and the growing baby puts indirect pressure on the sciatic nerve.
  • Osteoporosis: This common condition is characterized by thinned, weakened bones that fracture easily. When the vertebrae becomes compressed because of a fracture, posture may become stooped over or hunched along with back pain.
  • Pregnancy: Most back pain is related to the physical changes that happen during pregnancy, including hormones that affect the muscles and joints, changes in the center of gravity, and posture.
  • Daily Life: Strain or sprain due to simple overuse, unaccustomed activity, excessive lifting with your back can cause back pain.

(Source: Harvard Health, National Institute of Health, Johns Hopkins Medicine)

What a Doctor of Chiropractic Can Do for You
Your doctor of chiropractic may take one or more approaches to alleviate back pain:

  • Perform physical and neurological exams. 
    • In the physical exam, your doctor will observe your posture, range of motion, and physical condition, noting movement that causes pain. Your doctor will feel your spine, note its curvature and alignment, and feel for muscle spasms. 
    • During the neurological exam, your doctor will test your reflexes, muscle strength, other nerve changes, and pain spread.
  • Perform spinal manipulation or chiropractic adjustments to align and improve spinal function to alleviate the stress on your system.
  • Develop a personalized program of care that may combine or recommend more than one type of treatment, depending on your personal needs. In addition to spinal manipulation, the treatment plan may include mobilization, massage, rehabilitative exercises, or something else.


Ask Your Chiropractor to See if the Following Pain Management Techniques Are Beneficial for You:


Lower back pain is often related to your sleeping position. Changing how you sleep so that your spine is aligned can help. In addition, having the right mattress and pillow can also help relieve the pain. 

Best sleeping positions to try for lower back pain:

  • Sleep on your side with a pillow between you knees
  • Sleep on your side in a fetal position
  • Sleep on your back with a pillow under your knees
  • Sleep on your back in a reclined position

Consult your chiropractic to discuss the right sleep position that is best for you.

(Source: Sleep Foundation & Healthline)


It’s best to use cold compresses or an ice pack, not heat, immediately following a back injury, since this can alleviate pain by numbing the area and prevent or reduce swelling. About 48 hours after the onset of back pain, though, applying heating pads or a hot water bottle to your back may be helpful. The warmth soothes and relaxes aching muscles and increases blood flow, which helps the healing process. Keep in mind that heat therapy is only helpful for the first week. Talk to your chiropractor about the right approach to cold and hot therapy for your back pain. 

(Source: Harvard Health)


Exercise can help your back muscles strengthen and become more flexible. This helps keep you from having more back pain in the future. When you first start, repeat each exercise a few times. Then increase the number of times you exercise as it gets easier for you. If you’re beginning an exercise program due to ongoing back pain or after a back injury, talk to a chiropractor about activities that are safe for you.

(Source: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs & Mayo Clinic)


Massage therapy is a part of complementary and integrative medicine that can help reduce muscle tension, pain, and stress. A trained and certified health professional manipulates soft tissues, including muscles, tendons, and ligaments, with varying degrees of pressure and movement to increase mobility and reduce pain. A 2009 Study found that massage is safe and may have clinical benefits for treating chronic neck pain. Chiropractor offices often offer massage services; consult your chiropractor to see what services they offer to book a massage.

(Source: PainScale)


Move your body the right way when going about your day, especially when you lift, push, or pull something. By using proper lifting technique, you can avoid compressing spinal discs or straining the lower back muscles.

As you lift, always:

  • Keep the load as close to you as possible.
  • Keep your back straight.
  • Turn your feet outward and push your buttocks out (squat).
  • Bend your knees.
  • Keep your head forward. Your lift will be more balanced, and the curves of your spine will remain balanced and aligned.
  • Breathe as you lift.

(Source: National Insitutue of Health, VerywellHealth, U.S. Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventative Program)


Your footwear plays a significant role in your body’s alignment. The alignment of your hips, knees and legs affects the amount of stress placed on your back. Wearing shoes with no arch support, high heels or footwear with poor cushioning could lead to back pain. While you’re exercising or walking, wearing support shoes is essential.  

To reduce back pain, minimize how often you wear high heels and flat shoes like flip-flops, and purchase shoes that fit your arches and offer the proper amount of support and cushioning. You can also buy inserts for the shoes you already have.

(Source: Desert Institute for Spine Care)


Mattresses play a principal role in supporting the body during sleep, and preventing or reducing lower back pain. Proper spinal alignment demands a mattress that is in good condition and doesn’t sag excessively. Research supports using a medium-firm mattress to combat lower back pain, although the most appropriate firmness can vary based on a person’s weight, body shape, sleeping position, and individual comfort preferences.

(Source: Sleep Foundation & Healthline)


Yoga is an effective way to stretch your back, improve the health of muscles and joints, enhance distribution of healing nutrients through blood circulation, and increase the flexibility of the spine.

When you start, perform the stretches slowly and advance only if you feel comfortable without pain. Gradually, you will be able to add more stretches to your routine. An ideal time for yoga is early morning—to help loosen your spine and also reduce stiffness and aches in your back. The overall benefit is to reduce stress while improving strength and flexibility. Even for those who perceive themselves as “inflexible,” like seniors, chair yoga is a great option.

(Source: Spine-Health & Henry Ford Health)


Acupuncture is a technique in which practitioners stimulate specific points on the body—most often by inserting thin needles through the skin. A 2017 evaluation of 49 studies of acupuncture for low-back pain with more than 7,900 participants found evidence that acupuncture has a modest benefit on acute low-back pain and a moderate benefit on chronic low-back pain.

(Source: National Center for Complementary and Ingerative Health)


A proper diet ensures you get the essential vitamins and nutrients your body needs. A poor diet, on the other hand, can cause inflammation or weight gain that could put added strain on your bones and joints and lead to back pain. A healthy diet includes vegetables and fruit, both of which can have anti-inflammatory properties.

Consider these foods, which have been shown to reduce inflammation:

  • Strawberries.
  • Oranges.
  • Cherries.
  • Blueberries.
  • Tomatoes.
  • Spinach.
  • Kale.

(Source: Desert Institute for Spine Care)


It’s better to keep moving, so that your muscles don’t become stiff. Bed rest can still be useful relief from low back pain, particularly if your pain is so severe that it hurts to sit or stand. But try to limit it to a few hours at a time and for no more than one or two days.

(Source: Harvard Health)

Previous slide
Next slide

Research Shows Healing Power of Chiropractic