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.
Stand in a doorway and hold onto the frame while slightly turning your trunk. This stretch can help your upper body.
7. What daily things can someone do to improve his or her back pain?
Focus on stretching, and modify your posture whenever possible. Most of all, listen to your pain. If something you are doing is causing you pain, then either modify your position or stop the activity.
8. Are medicinal components used with chiropractic care to help with back pain?
Yes. Reviewing your vitamin and water intake are very important factors to consider when working to improve your condition. In fact, we can recommend vitamins to help decrease inflammation, and ultimately reduce pain levels.
9. When should the person expect relief? How many follow up visits should they have to improve their situation?
You should expect some relief within the first few treatments, depending upon the severity of the condition. Ultimately, I can only treat a patient in office, which makes commitment to your care very important. That doesn’t mean you have to come in every day for the rest of your life; however, you can’t expect the problem to be fixed in one visit, especially if it’s something you have been dealing with every day for years. There is no “quick fix.” The general acute condition takes anywhere from four to six weeks of care to resolve. Once pain levels have been reduced, we then move onto the stabilizing phase, which is when your visits to my office decrease, and at home stretching increases. Finally, you will get to a strengthening phase, and during that time you can come in preventatively so we don’t go back to the initial issue.
10. What is the overall goal for treatment?
Our goal is for you to be able to preform daily activities with little to no pain.
11. Are there additional treatment options available through your practice?
Yes. In addition to chiropractic care, we also offer the following: decompression therapy, massage therapy, deep tissue laser therapy for joint sprains or strains, platelet rich plasma injections for healing partial tears of ligaments/tendons, stem cell therapy for healing the more severe tears of rotator cuff or large joints and injections for osteoarthritis to prevent knee replacement. We offer a free consultation on most visits to see how we best can treat a patient.
12. What are the phases for treatment, besides pain relief, to achieve overall wellness?
The stabilizing phase comes after pain relief, which is when we focus on stretching and modifying posture or aggravating activity. Then, the final stage is strengthening. This is when we give you exercises to take home that work to increase muscle strength in the area of complaint to avoid pain in the future.
13. What are some common causes for back pain? Do any occupations make them worse?
Common occupations with increased back pain include: people who work at a desk or drive all day, people who lift large or heavy objects and who have very physically demanding jobs, such as police officers or firefighters.
For more information on Dr. Schmidt, visit www.drtommylane.com.