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Why Back Pain Is More Avoidable Than You Might Think

BY: Kate Raftery | Jul 15, 2015
Why Back Pain Is More Avoidable Than You Might Think

As a large portion of the population has moved away from physical jobs like farming, you’d think that we’d be better off in terms of physical comfort. Not so. Aches and pains are always lurking, whether you spend the bulk of your day sedentary or active. Thankfully, many a Denver chiropractor can provide relief to those who want to avoid medication and medical procedures.

But what’s the cause of the symptoms they’re taking care of? And how exactly are they helping? We talked to chiropractor Trent Artichoker, owner of Denver Chiropractic, LLC, to find out.

What should you expect during a spinal adjustment?

“Expect to feel better!” Artichoker said. “I love giving people their first adjustment. They get on the table in a certain mood, and they always get off the table in a better mood.”

Adjustments are chiropractic’s bread and butter. After an examination, the chiropractor performs a series of quick motions—by hand or with a mechanical tool—to realign the spine and joints. Adjustments also use massage techniques to treat problems with soft tissues, including muscles and fascia.

What’s a common misconception about chiropractic services?

There’s a pervasive idea that once you have your first adjustment, you’ll need to keep going back for more adjustments to receive any benefit.

Artichoker, however, relates the chiropractor-patient relationship to the one you have with your dentist. A dentist sees you once every year or so to clean your teeth and provide information about dental health. If you have poor dental hygiene, though, you’ll have to come back more often. Clients with good posture only need to visit chiropractors periodically for treatments and advice about everyday movement. Those with more severe spinal problems benefit from being adjusted more frequently.

What are a few simple things people can do to avoid back pain?

“A large category of injuries are due to movement disorders,” he said. “Simple exercises that teach people how to hinge at the hips versus bending at the back can be monumental in decreasing back pain.”

Artichoker is a fan of Foundation Training, a movement-improvement program developed by chiropractors. In particular, an exercise called The Founder can help strengthen muscles and prevent back pain.

Will sitting down all day harm your spine?

“Sitting all day, every day is one of the worst activities for your spine. The vast majority of my daily patients land themselves in my office because of their sitting habit,” Artichoker said. “Good spinal hygiene requires frequent motion.”

The solution isn’t to use a standing desk exclusively—ideally, you should vary your posture throughout the day. That means switching from sitting in an ergonomic chair, which is designed to support the spine, to using a standing desk, which can relieve postural stress caused by sitting. You should also take short breaks to get up and move around.

Are there injuries you’re seeing more often due to technological developments?

“Text neck” is a painful condition caused by bending the neck to look at smartphones, tablets, and laptops, and it’s becoming more common.

“Almost everyone has a phone or tablet, and their use typically involves sustained postures that take the spine out of its neutral position,” Artichoker said. “The longer the spine is out of its neutral position, the more likely it will become injured.” Indeed, a neck bent at 60 degrees inflicts a weight of 60 pounds on the cervical spine; in a normal position, the weight of the head is about 12 pounds.

What ailments are most common among Denver residents?

The Colorado native identified three causes of injury that seem endemic to his area:

  • CrossFit: “Colorado is a very health-oriented state, and the CrossFit craze has certainly hit my area,” Artichoker said. “I’m routinely evaluating new patients that are being injured by CrossFit,” which involves some exercises that can damage the spine if they’re not performed properly.
  • Outdoor activities: If you see Colorado and think mountains and snow, you’re on the right track. Artichoker treats clients for injuries incurred while skiing, snowboarding, rock climbing, and shoveling snow.
  • Auto accidents: Denver is one of the fastest-growing cities in the nation, with the metro area experiencing an influx of more than 1 million people. More people means more road congestion, which leads to lots of car accidents.

If you could outlaw any activity or item due to its negative effects on your patients, what would it be?

Artichoker would eliminate one of the most unhealthy movements: repetitive bending of the back, which can contribute to the deterioration of discs and joints.

Changing your movement pattern to bending at the hips “could mean the difference [between] choosing which surgeon you want versus which fourteener you want to climb next.”

What is the most spine-tingling thing you’ve ever seen?

“Bad form in the gym,” Artichoker said. “People are trying to get healthy, but they’re doing it all wrong and are only causing injury. I find it very hard to sit back and not interfere.”

You should seek advice from a professional, like a certified personal trainer, before taking on weightlifting and other exercises.