low back pain chiropractic maintenance care

“Dr. Sellers, I think it’s just muscular.”

“What happened?” I ask.

The response is usually, “I’m not sure. I just woke up with it.”

As a chiropractor I hear this a lot in my office. On occasion it is true that the pain a patient presents with is just muscular. However, more often it is not.


First of all, a problem is never just muscular. Muscles move joints and what affects muscles affects the joints they move. Secondly, if a pain is purely muscular you won’t just wake with it. You will have done something to cause the muscle to hurt and will generally know what that “something” was. You will usually be able to associate your pain with an activity that over taxes or outright strains the muscle. If you injure or strain a muscle the pain is immediate. If you overtax a muscle it is possible that you will not feel it until the next day.

“So, if it’s not muscular, Doc, what is it?”

Good question! If 30 years of practicing chiropractic have taught me anything, it’s that nothing is ever as simple as it seems. There are a lot of things in the spine that can cause pain. Things we call pain generators. The three most common pain generators are discs, joints and nerves. Any of these, either alone or in combination, can lead a patient to believe that their pain is muscular.

Here’s what happens. When a disc, a joint or a nerve becomes inflamed, irritated or pinched the muscles that surround them begin to splint or tighten. This serves to protect the inflamed tissue. This tightness can be mild or it can be severe, like a spasm. The spasms are obviously painful. However, the less severe tightness can be too.

Why is that painful?

To help patients understand I ask them a few questions.

“What would happen if you were to do bicep curls all day long every day for a week or two?”

“Do you think your bicep muscle would become sore or painful?”

You bet it would. So, although the pain does not begin in the muscle it usually ends up there.

I fix the disc, joint or nerve problem and the muscle pain goes away.



low back pain chiropractic maintenance care

Suffering from low back pain requires more than just a quick-fix.

A 2011 study conducted by two Egyptian medical doctors conclusively demonstrated that maintenance chiropractic care provided significant benefits for patients with chronic low back pain. (Study here)

What is Maintenance Care?

Maintenance care is what chiropractors recommend after their patients have completed an initial course of care for acute pain and correction of their misalignments.

The authors of the study, conducted by the Mansoura Faculty of Medicine, concluded that spinal manipulation (or what chiropractors call adjustments) is effective for treatment of chronic, non-specific, low back pain. However, to obtain long-term benefits for the patient, the study supports continuing a maintenance plan of spinal manipulation after an initial, intensive therapy course has been completed.

This study confirmed the findings of Martin Descarreaux, whose study was published in the Journal of Manipulative and Psychological Therapeutics in 2004. (Study here)

So, what does that mean for you?

Here’s the translation: Even after your misalignments have been corrected and your low back pain alleviated, it’s recommended to return once a month for maintenance care to keep pain and misalignments from returning.

If you suffer from low back pain and are looking for long-term relief, Dr. Bart Sellers at Chiropractic Associates of Mandeville can help. Contact our office today to schedule an appointment.

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