"I’ve tried everything for my back pain, but nothing’s worked.”
Back pain is one of the most common neuromuscular disorders in Australia. The World Health Organisation (WHO) provides the following numbers for just how common it is:
- 60-70% of people are estimated to experience at least one episode of severe back pain in their lives
- 15-45% of adults are estimated to suffer an episode of severe back pain this year
- 5% of the entire population are experiencing severe back pain at this very moment
In Australia, that would mean 1.2 million people are currently experiencing severe back pain. If you are one of them, you have likely considered a number of common therapies:
- GP or Hospital for pain killers
- Back Pain specialist for surgery
- Pain management strategies
Each of these treatments is a good option for people experiencing back pain.
But what do you do if you are like so many people who have tried them all but still experiencing back pain? Then what?
When it comes to back pain, there is nothing that has 100% success. Nothing. It is because back pain can be both a complex and challenging condition. So in this article, what I want to offer you is a different approach - one that makes sense and that could be the missing piece to the puzzle - in your search for a solution for your back pain. And it may be related to ta different part of your body that you may never had considered could be related to your back pain: your upper neck.
How can your neck be related to back pain?
For a moment, don’t think of your back as just your spine. Think of it as the thing that is inside that your spine is built to protect: your spinal cord.
Your spinal cord is essentially a loose piece of string hanging from the base of your skull to where it ends in the small of your back (around the L2 level). This string is attached to each of the vertebrae for support all the way down your spine. However, there are two places in particular where the attachments are anchored firmly for major support:
- At the base of your spinal cord via a ligament called the filum terminale, which anchors your spinal cord to your sacrum (tailbone)
- At the top of your neck via ligaments called mydural bridges and dentate ligaments, which anchor your spinal cord to your C1 and C2 vertebrae.
So, now that you can picture this piece of string attached firmly on both ends, I want you to consider how it might be possible to increase the tension on that string. Most significantly, if you had some type of physical tension pulling on the string from the top - from the upper neck - the tension would be felt down at the bottom. Thus, it may be possible to experience back pain when the source of the pain is coming from somewhere completely different.
What neck injuries have you experienced?
If you have been experiencing back pain that has not responded to the normal types of treatment, you are probably thinking to yourself, “Well that makes sense!”You are probably trying to remember now if you have maybe ever injured your neck. To help, I want to give you some context.
The types of neck injuries I’m describing are not where you’ve necessarily broken or dislocated anything. Instead, I’m referring to the many smaller injuries that you may have experienced over the years: namely, the ones where you “felt” fine afterward, and then forgot that anything ever happened.
- Small car accidents, where you didn’t feel you needed to go to the hospital
- Sporting injuries (yes, even when you were still a teenager, and maybe even younger)
- Trips or falls over the curb, over a tree root or rock, against a cupboard, etc.
- Or any number of potential injuries when you were a little kid learning to walk, run, ride a bike, play sports, etc.
As small as any of these injuries may be, if they offset the center of gravity between your skull and the top bones in your neck - the C1 (atlas) or C2 (axis) - a displacement of even a couple of millimeters can start fo make a big difference over a few months, years or even decades.
Think of it like unpaid interest on a loan. Small numbers become BIG numbers.All the while, your brain will attempt to maintain the balance and center of gravity between the weight of your head and the rest of your body.
“Where your head goes, your body goes.”
f you have a misalignment at the top of your neck, not only can it create that physical nerve tension leading to back pain, but it can also shift the physical structure of your body in such a way that causes your posture to become crooked.
This happens, over time, it could contribute towards tight or spasming muscles, disc degeneration, arthritis, and all the many conditions related to back pain.
So it is one of the most important things that we know is essential for any person who experiences back pain. Even if we aren’t able to fix 100% of the back pain problems they may have, what we do offer is an approach that is fundamental for their body to function properly. And that is to make sure that the weight of the head is as centered as possible so that the rest of your body does not have to adapt.
“What is upper cervical chiropractic? And can it help my back pain?”
You may have been to see a chiropractor before for your back pain. But have you seen an upper cervical specific chiropractor? If not, you may be wondering what the difference is.
Upper cervical chiropractic is a special division of chiropractic, developed and researched in the USA that works on the principle that the top bones in your neck - the C1 (atlas) and C2 (axis) - have a special impact and relationship with your brainstem. Your brainstem is the master control center for your entire body’s functions. Therefore, if something has caused either of these bones to misalign but even a couple of millimeters, the resulting tension could disrupt the normal function of your nerve system, ultimately leading to a greater potential of injury or chronic health problems such as back pain.
So what an upper cervical chiropractic doctor does is focus on correcting the alignment of your neck in order to assist with the function of your body. When that happens, the principle is that your body is able to better repair; and if that happens, we hope to see improvements with mobility, function, and a reduction of things such as back pain.
What the process involves is a detailed examination of the structures of your neck including neurological tests and 3D tailored x-rays, which help us to see the exact direction and degree of any misalignments in your neck. With that information, we are able to produce personalised care recommendations where we work to adjust your neck over a period of time, which allows for your body to work the way it is designed.
So upper cervical chiropractic isn’t actually a treatment for back pain at all! More like diet and exercise, it is am approach and strategy - and an ESSENTIAL one too - that helps you to be the best version of you possible. And in that time and place, your back pain had a much better chance to heal.
How do I find out if upper cervical chiropractic is right for my back pain?
Especially if you have been around the block, looking for answers for you back pain for any length of time, a critical and conservative mindset is essential. Personally, I never feel comfortable making long term recommendations of care without knowing first in the short term that we are going in the right direction.
Even before that it is essential to find out what is and is not going on to make sure that any care strategy is appropriate for your unique circumstances and need And even before that, I recommend simply having a chat with your healthcare practitioners simply to get a vibe if they are the right person to help you. For this reason, if you are trying to figure out if upper cervical chiropractic is the right choice to help you with your back pain, I would simply like to invite you to be able to have a conversation with us.
At Atlas Health chiropractor North Lakes, we offer a 15-minute complimentary conversation where we are happy to discuss the specifics of your individual case and to answer any questions that you may have so that you can choose if care would be right for you.
To request this no-obligation consultation, you can click the Contact Us, or alternatively, give us a ring at 07 3188 9329.
Our practice is conveniently located in North Lakes to serve not simply the local communities of Mango Hill, Griffin, Narangba, and Burpengary but also the greater Brisbane area. Many of our clients come across town - Capalaba, south Brisbane, Springwood, Ferny Grove, Hamilton, Sandgate, Aspley, and Albany Creek to name just a few. So ti is nor uncommon for many of our clients to travel 60-90 minutes to attend the clinic.
We do understand that this is not ideal. Alas, until we have more chiropractic doctors trained properly in the art of upper cervical specific, we are still the only ones in Brisbane offering this unique approach to health and wellbeing.
So please, if you’ve found this article to be logical, and also that it simply resonates with you, reach out to us today to find out if there is something more that we may be able to do to help you.
Atlas Health Australia - “A passion and purpose for helping people to live well.”
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