Have you experienced back pain? If so, you are not alone. According to the American Chiropractic Association, 80 percent of Americans experience back pain at some point during their lifetime.
If you are experiencing back pain, there are many treatments and specialists that you can see, including chiropractic care. I spoke with chiropractor Dr. Katlyn Schmidt, who helped me understand what I should expect visiting a chiropractor for back pain.
1. Can you tell me about your treatment philosophy?
I assess patients on their initial visit based on their condition, the length of time they have been dealing with this issue and, most importantly, what functions of their daily lives are impacted by their pain. My focus is to initially decrease pain, and measure that with functional goals that we set together.
2. What should a patient be asking about his or her diagnosis?
It is my philosophy that the patient is in control of his or her own health. As a practitioner, I am here to explain your condition and the severity, as well as relay any options for treatment that I see fit.
I encourage all my patients to research everything I tell them, seek out other opinions, and ask me any question that cross their minds. In order for patients to make educated decisions, they first need to know as much as they can about what they are dealing with.
Should they ask about the functional issues that caused their diagnosis? Absolutely. I pick functional goals with all of my patients, including walking, sitting, standing or whatever it is they are having problems doing, and ask them to measure that in order to better assess if they are improving. Along the same lines, patients need to know if they are lifting improperly, sitting with bad posture or sleeping incorrectly. Being aware of these habits is how they can improve upon them.
3. Should a patient keep a journal about what could be causing their pain? What should they share with you for the best treatment plan?
Many patients have sought out other treatments before turning to a chiropractor, so it would be beneficial to keep track of what you’ve done to try to fix the condition. Include in your pain journal some sort of a timeline, and what kind of relief you had, if any. This helps me to better understand where we are starting from by the time you get to me.
4. Do you perform x-rays? What other diagnostic tests will be performed?
Depending upon the patient’s history, and the results from the physical and orthopedic exams, the need for x-rays will be determined on a case-by-case basis. Any other diagnostic tests happen after the initial assessment, and are performed as needed depending upon whether or not they are responding to care or not.
5. What can patients do to relieve their back pain symptoms at home?
Simple ways to improve back pain at home include: sleeping on your back with something elevating your knees, implementing a daily stretching routine and making sure you are using good posture throughout the day.
6. What stretches do you recommend for someone with low back pain?
Bring one knee at a time to your chest, and then bring in both legs together, can help your lower back.