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Is my lower back pain a vertebra out of place, arthritis, or a slipped disc doc?

January has been low back pain awareness month at Weber Chiropractic and today I want to close out the month by talking about one of the most common situations regarding back pain in my office. I am referring to what most of my patients will ask when they come to me with low back pain. They ask, “Is my low back pain a vertebra out of place, arthritis, or a slipped disc, doc?”

These are the reasons that most patients associate with being the cause of low back pain. It’s what they are all worried about. They think if it is a vertebra that is misaligned a simple adjustment will make them feel better. They think if it is arthritis that they just will have to learn to live with it, and it might require surgery if it is a slipped disc. Why do people think this way? We’ve all been trained to think that way because we all have three questions on our minds when we go to the doctor. 1.) Is this doctor able to fix me? 2.) How soon will I be fixed? 3.) How much is this going to cost?

How I gauge the success of my care plan is based on helping you get back any functional movements and capacities that were lost due to the problem that caused the pain. In other words, I want to repair what is broken and not functioning properly in your body. When this is done the pain stops and the repaired tissue no longer needs to alert you that there is a problem. When there is no longer a problem there is no impediment to doing the things that you were not able to do because of pain and that broken tissue.

So, how does any doctor determine what the damaged tissue is that is causing the pain and resulting in lost or impaired function and movement? I use clues, just like a good detective, to look for that causative problem. The biggest and the best clues come from obtaining a great history from the patient. Think of this like a police TV show where the crime has been committed and the police are looking for witnesses to the crime. They gather as much verbal data as they can and try to piece together what happened. I will do the same thing when you present to my office with low back pain (or any pain for that matter). I need to know when it happened, how it happened, how it feels, what makes it feel better, and what makes it feel worse. All these clues start to point me to the suspect of the crime. Just like the TV detectives I have a primary suspect, but I also have secondary suspects that need to have alibis to be eliminated as culprits.

Sometimes like on the TV show where the CSI unit is called into the investigation, I may have to send you (to the lab?) for x-rays or an MRI. The clues that would point me in that direction would be things like a pain that extends down from the low back to the lower leg and foot or an electric shock like pain that happens with a cough or sneeze.

Like a skilled detective, I also know the classic signs and symptoms of certain conditions. For example, disc problems tend to occur in younger people and in men more than women. I know that in most cases arthritis, despite what people think, does not cause pain and that it usually occurs in older people. I know that muscles when they are damaged will be stiff and sore in the morning but will feel better as the day goes along. I also know that by the end of the day those same muscles are so fatigued and tired that they become sore again.

So, to close this discussion out, the odds are good that your problem will be self-limiting. This means that it will go away by itself if you can wait long enough. I also know that natural recoveries are less harmful to you than surgeries or medications. Since most low back problems are muscular in nature, I am uniquely qualified to help. The treatment I use is designed to first relieve the pain, second to fix the damaged muscular tissues, and third to restore the normal balance and strength of the muscles. The result of this treatment is no more pain and full functional restoration.

This process can take time. The old “crack me in” and send me on my way kind of treatments are not an efficient way to handle the problem. Treatment will require you and I to work together as a team to get the best results.

If this is something that you would be interested in exploring with me, please reach out by giving us a call at 724-285-9093, going to, or IM me on Facebook@kirkweberchiropractor. Remember, your health is our concern. I would also be humbled, honored, and so grateful if you would share this blog, my website address, and my Facebook address. When you do this, you are helping me help others!

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