Thousand of workers every year experience the sunset of work-related low back (LB) pain. While many people are able to rehabilitate without missing work, for many others the pain progresses and becomes debilitating, disabling them from their job duties.

Work-related LB pain is often the result of poor lifting techniques, muscle fatigue, tension, chronic poor posture, or repetitive stressors which cause misalignments of the spinal Symptoms may present as sharp, shooting pains in the lower back, back aches, stiffness, numbness, or tingling. Sometimes the pain is a direct result of a specific work-related injury and other times the pain may be the result of a long-term process of overuse or stress on the low back muscles.

Sufferers of low back pain typically find relief through their family physician, physical therapist, or chiropractor. Those suffering with low back pain may be surprised to find that a recent study found that chiropractic was the most effective option for work-related low back pain, compared to physical therapy and medical physician services.

An April 2011 study in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine concluded that chiropractic services were more beneficial than physical therapy or medical physician services for patients suffering from work-related LB pain.1 The study followed nearly 900 patients for one year. Not only did those who received chiropractic care have fewer medical expenses during their rehabilitation, but they also experienced shorter periods of disability and fewer reoccurrences than those receiving physical therapy or medical physician care.

Chiropractors commonly treat LB pain with spinal manipulations, physiotherapy modalities and rehabilitative exercises to help relieve the pain and improve function. They focus on the biomechanics of the body as a whole and work to restore balance, alignment, and proper range of motion. They may use any combination of physiotherapy treatments including, heat and ice therapy, electric stimulation, ultrasound, kinesiotape, spidertech tape, massage, and rehabilitative exercises. Pain relief is the first phase, but working on the root cause of the injury and not merely addressing the symptoms is the concentration of chiropractic healing, to correct the problem.

As a holistic practitioner, a chiropractor is trained to provide integrative programs of care as well as preventative care. Chiropractors work within the body's natural healing abilities and view healing as a whole body process. Chiropractors are advocates of preventive care and regularly provide plans for both rehabilitation and preventive care for their patients. They include counseling, education, and exercises focused on health maintenance.

The holistic and preventive aspects of chiropractic may well play an important role in the fact that chiropractic was found to be the best option for low back pain recovery and continued health in the study.

The study is valuable for patients recovering from low back pain, their employers, and their insurers. Patients recover quicker, reduce the likelihood of recurrence, and have fewer medical expenses.

1. Cifuentes M, Willetts J, Wasiak R. Health maintenance care in work-related low back pain and its association with disability recurrence. J Occup Environ Med. 2011 Apr; 53 (4): 396-404.