Low back pain is one of the most common reasons people seek out chiropractic care. I’ll discuss how I approach a patient with low back pain, as a chiropractor and applied kinesiologist.
First, and most importantly, I take an in-depth history from the patient. Typically, if the doctor listens closely enough, the patient will tell him or her what’s wrong and why. After the history has been noted, I move on to a focused and detailed examination. I’ll start with basic postural and gait analysis, range of motion evaluation, palpation, and orthopedic and neurological tests. Additionally, I review a comprehensive symptom survey filled out by the patient and perform a urinalysis. At this point I have the necessary information to determine the structure(s) that are primarily involved in causing the patient’s pain. The next step is to determine WHY those structures have become compromised. If you don’t get to the root of the problem, you can be sure it will come back again. So keep in mind – feeling better and having no pain after being treated (or not) doesn’t mean you “fixed” the cause.
The “WHY” part of the problem is then further discovered through functional muscle testing. See my article on applied kinesiology if you’re not familiar with functional muscle testing. For low back pain, I test all the muscles that control the lower extremity (inc. the feet), pelvis, and low back. Also, when necessary, I’ll check the upper body/spine, cranial bones and TMJ. Next, when I find muscle dysfunction, I have to determine if the reason is because of something structural (e.g.: trauma/overuse of a muscle, spinal or extremity nerve problem, etc.), chemical (toxicity-related, nutrient deficiency-related, etc.), or emotional. This type of approach to determining my patients problems allows me to figure out the cause of the low back pain, which will help prevent it from returning.
Please recall that each muscle has been found to have an organ or gland that it relates to. As a result, it’s possible that a large or small intestine, adrenal, reproductive, and/or kidney problem is the cause of low back pain. In those cases, you must address the underlying organ or gland AND muscular and joint imbalances if you want to achieve a lasting recovery.
To date, I have seen all of the above scenarios (i.e.: structural, chemical, and emotional-induced problems) cause low back pain in my patients.
A structural problem would simply be when muscles/tendons/ligaments are damaged, joints restricted in motion, nerve entrapment syndromes, etc. are the underlying cause. This would typically be a case where there is an injury, postural imbalance or chronic overuse/repetitive trauma.
Additionally, a chemical problem might be caused by nutrient deficiencies or infection/toxicity-related issues that cause muscle inhibitions resulting in low back pain.
The most common organ I find involved in low back pain is the intestines (large or small). This usually accompanies digestive symptoms related to an overgrowth of yeast or parasites, but not always.
Adrenal stress-related issues would be the second most common low back pain-related problem. This is usually related to an overall stressful lifestyle, especially poor eating habits.
The next common biochemically-related issue to low back pain that I see is male and female hormonal imbalances. Examples of this would be prostate problems, pre-menstrual syndrome and uterine fibroids.
Lastly, kidney (bladder/ureter)-related problems, such as a kidney stone(s), urinary tract infection, etc. is also a relatively common cause of low back pain.
Please keep in mind. The above conditions may be discovered by many types of practitioners when they are OVERT. However, it is extremely common to have any of these conditions sub-clinically (i.e.: not readily apparent or showing up through standard diagnostic tests). For example, intestinal, stress-related, hormone, and even kidney/ureter/bladder problems don’t always accompany obvious symptoms or reveal themselves on standard medical tests. That’s the common scenario of: “Mr./Mrs. Smith, all of your tests have come back normal”. This is when the applied kinesiologist can use functional muscle testing to uncover what is not readily apparent.
Emotional issues can certainly exist, however, structural and chemical problems are much more common when it comes to back pain. Also, emotionally-related issues are usually a case-by-case basis, and not as general.
As a chiropractor and applied kinesiologist, I am trained in functional biomechanics, functional biochemistry, and have the ability to use functional muscle testing in order to evaluate all aspects of a person’s health and presenting complaint. This allows me to determine and implement a comprehensive treatment plan and treat my patients holistically. Therefore, I have the ability to look beyond the patient’s symptoms and focus on correcting the cause of the problem; which (when dealing with low back pain) can often be more than simply “bones out of place” as it might appear to me without this knowledge.
Dr. Robert D’Aquila – NYC Chiropractor – Applied Kinesiology