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Back Pain & Injuries

ANATOMY:

The low back or lumbar spine consists of 5 vertebras (L1-L5). The dense disc between each vertebrae is called the intervertebral disc, that helps absorb load and shock during movement, provide nutrients to the vertebrae, and a cushion for our nerves to run free and keep neighboring vertebrae from rubbing against one another. There are nerves that branch out at each spinal vertebrae level that provide sensory and motor function to our gluteal muscles, hip, legs, foot, and the lower body. Irritation to any of these nerves can cause muscle weakness and/or paresthesia (burning, numbing, prickling sensation), resulting in imbalances that can keep us from doing the many activities we love and need to function properly. 

BACKGROUND: 

Low back pain is one of the most common reasons that people seek health care. Medical statistics show that over 80% of adults have some form of low back pain at some time in their lives. This means millions of people suffer from low back pain, many unnecessarily. In fact, it’s the leading cause of disability in people under 45 years old. 

Injuries include: 

Even though the symptom is very common, there are a wide number of causes of low back pain. Low back pain can be due to:

  • Sprains and Strains 
  • Joint fixations
  • Herniated discs
  • Sciatica
  • Degenerative Disc Disease
  • Spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal)
  • Spondylolisthesis (bone displacement)
  • Retrolisthesis
  • Anterolisthesis 
  • Arthritis
  • Ergonomic Challenges 
  • Weight Gain
  • Bad Posture
  • Sedentary Lifestyle
  • Work From Home (WFH)

As any Bay Area resident will tell you, the majority of our day revolves around sitting. Whether it’s the long commute to and from work, spending the entire day at work on a computer, staring at our cell phones, or watching our favorite television show at home, the sedentary lifestyle we lead is detrimental to our health. These activities share a common theme and can lead to muscular imbalance in the body.

At ProActive Chiropractic, we effectively use movement based screening to identify where the imbalance is so that we can accurately treat and reverse dysfunctional patterns to get you moving better and faster throughout your day. In addition to movement screen tests, rehab stretches and exercises are given to help strengthen weak muscles that are critical for joint stability and relax tight muscles necessary for appropriate functionality. 

Degenerative Disc Disease: 

In Degenerative Disc Disease, the discs between the vertebrae (the bones that make up your spine) shrink and get thinner over time. The discs serve as shock absorbers in our spines and spacers between the vertebrae holding plenty of space for the nerves to exit the spine without interference. The disc is subject to degeneration over time as a result of constant repetitive stress. 

Degenerative changes can be accelerated by trauma, poor posture, and the stress of repetitive motions. Discs do not receive nutrients through a blood supply like the rest of our body. Instead, they receive nutrients through movement which pulls water and nutrients into the discs allowing them to stay healthy. 

Although nothing can restore the thickness of the discs, chiropractic care can improve the movement of your joints and muscles leading to less wear and tear on the discs.

After going through a thorough history and examination, our doctors decide if further imaging is necessary to evaluate the area of complaint. 

In many cases, the symptoms of Degenerative Disk Disease can be reduced or eliminated with conservative care. 

Degenerative Joint Disease 

Degenerative Joint Disease, also known as Osteoarthritis, is a progressive disorder that affects the cartilage surrounding the area of bone that moves inside the joint. Currently affecting over 27 million Americans over the age of 25, the degeneration is typically seen in weight bearing joints such as the knee or hip however, it may also occur in other joints in the hands and neck. 

Many patients suffering from this disorder express pain, stiffness, and loss of flexibility, especially in the morning. 

DIAGNOSIS:  

The causes of low back pain are numerous. For this reason, experience counts in making the right diagnosis. For instance, you would not want a bulging disc to be confused with a kidney stone, would you?  Of course not! The treatments for each of these conditions are dramatically different. The doctors at ProActive Chiropractic will take the time to assess your pain to find a customized treatment plan for your specific diagnosis.  

Another important factor in evaluation is considering the entire body in the process. Low back pain might be related to a problem in another part of the body, such as the neck, hip, or legs. Poor lower limb function can put stress on the spine, so this type of holistic evaluation is a key part of optimal care.

The diagnostic process is primarily based on evaluating your symptoms and by examining your body. If necessary, x-rays or other imaging tests may be required. Making the right diagnosis is essential to picking the correct treatment.  

Imaging: 

Although we do not have an on-site imaging center, we are partnered with Radnet and SimonMed for all of your X-ray, MRI, CT Scan, and Ultrasound needs! If there are any red flags noted by the doctor, imaging can be necessary before performing any treatment.  

Frustrated by the pain and just want ease of mind to know what is actually going on in your body? The doctors at ProActive Chiropractic can provide you with a prescription to get imagining done if it is within reason with the assessment.  

Labs: 

Sometimes the root of your condition is not structural. Inflammation, allergies, or deficiencies in our chemical make-up can keep us from recovering fully or quickly. We never want our treatments to plateau until you’ve reached your goals.   

Our office is conveniently partnered with LabCorp and Cyrex Laboratories to help better understand your diagnosis when needed. If our doctors believe that a blood and/or urine analysis will benefit your health, they will order these labs at generally a lower cost than what your insurance can. Our goal is to get you the most affordable and efficient comprehensive assessment possible to save you time and money.   

TREATMENT: 

Since all back pain is not created equal, it’s not all treated equally either. At ProActive Chiropractic our exam process allows us to do a thorough evaluation of your complaint so we can identify the root of the problem. We then deliver treatment that will help get you better as quickly as possible. 

Your treatment may include chiropractic adjustments, exercises to perform at home, or supplements to speed up the healing time. Each treatment plan considers the diagnosis and your overall health profile. 

Most low back pain cases respond very well to conservative care, but we are happy to partner with other providers when necessary to co-manage your problem. In every case, we take into account your entire health status in deciding upon the best care for you.

At ProActive Chiropractic, we not only educate our patients on ways to take control of their healing process, but also help restore motion in the restricted joints that are causing pain. Our hands on approach will increase your flexibility, help circulate blood flow and nutrients to the area, and decrease your pain efficiently to get you back doing the things you love. 

Chiropractic Manipulative Therapy (CMT): 

Scientific evidence proves that chiropractic techniques help patients by restoring joint mobility to provide proper functional movement patterns and balance out the nervous system. This decreases spasms, stiffness, and pain while promoting optimal health. 

We have many options to address the structural components that contribute to your pain. We always consider our patient’s preferences first, so when it comes to corrective adjustments, we provide a variety of methods to achieve this goal. Our specialty is manual adjustments. We are experienced in high velocity, low amplitude manipulations to the joints of the body in order to deliver the most comfortable and effective adjustments.  

Our one-of-a kind chiropractic tables feature an automated drop piece that utilizes an air compressor to address the joint in both directions in a gentle way. It allows the doctors to adjust front to back and back to front. The drop piece is maneuvered by foot so there are no extra knobs at the side of the table allowing patients to move around comfortably. 

Sometimes we discover smaller yet specific adjustments need to be made. For this, we use an innovative device, called the Activator, delivering a small impulse to the appropriate joint. Whether you love or are intimidated by the “cracks,” the doctors at ProActive Chiropractic will adjust to your preference while still administering the adjustments needed. 

Graston Technique and Fibroblaster Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization (IASTM) Tools :

When joints get stuck, the soft tissue structures around them suffer as well. When the muscles and connective tissues around the joint are not moving and gliding along each other, scar tissue and fascial distortion occurs. We have multiple tools of different sizes and shapes to help address these issues. 

Graston is a patent protected, innovative instrument that assists in soft-tissue mobilization, improving flexibility and decreasing pain by effectively breaking down fascial restrictions and removing scar tissue between muscles. Proactive Chiropractic is Graston certified and a Preferred Provider®. 

Fibroblaster IASTM Tools help our doctors diagnose and treat patients by providing controlled microtrauma to break scar tissue and fascial restrictions to restore full range of motion to keep you in the game. 

Functional Custom Orthotics and Shoes: 

There are three main arches of the foot: the medial longitudinal arch, the lateral longitudinal arch, and the anterior transverse (metatarsal) arch. These three arches work together as a strong and supportive tripod, called the “plantar vault,” that helps evenly distribute our weight to obtain the maximal shock absorbency throughout our body to protect our bones, nerves, and joints. 

The “righting reflex” or the “labyrinthine righting reflex” automatically corrects the orientation of our bodies so that our eyes are always level. The feet are the foundation in all of our weight-bearing activities so when they are not level, we subconsciously tilt different structures in our bodies to keep our eyes level. This results in overcompensations and under-compensation in various muscle groups. For example, if one arch is collapsed, that knee will internally rotate, which externally rotates the hip, rotating the pelvis, forcing the shoulder to drop on that side, resulting in our head tilting. This domino effect starts at the feet, but directly affects all the other joints of our bodies. This is why leveling out your feet is so essential in overall body health and research has shown flat feet can cause imbalances in your pelvis on x-rays.  

In our office, we have paired up with the world’s leading provider of individually designed custom orthotics to use state-of-the-art technology to analyze the three arches of the feet, making sure the forces you put on them are distributed properly. If the 3-D foot scan detects an unleveling in any of the arches, customized orthotics will be manufactured just for you to rebalance your entire body. They fit a variety of shoes depending on your activity level, how much your feet sweat, and the kind of shoes you want them in.  

We never want to sell you anything that does not serve you. If your custom orthotics need to be tweaked to your liking or you do not like them for any reason after wearing them for 45 days, we will remake your orthotics or give you a full refund. Put your best foot forward and try them out! You have absolutely nothing to lose! 

Therapeutic Exercises:

Our journey to improve your health and wellness does not stop when you leave the office. At ProActive Chiropractic, we honor a mutual collaborative effort by our doctors and you, our patients. While in our office, we believe it is our job to manually correct the underlying source of your pain by adjusting and performing techniques that you would not be able to do on your own. We then encourage you to perform customized rehabilitative exercises at home, in the office, or at the gym to better hold the adjustments made. We believe in a team approach where the doctors will align and balance patients on the table, and patients do their part in building the right habits, muscles, and strength to hold those adjustments. These specific exercises help relax painfully tight muscles and build strength to key muscles groups which are imperative for spinal support. 

We understand that educating our patients on their condition and teaching them how to prevent it is key to success. We want our patients to know when to come into the office and when they can fix ailments on their own. Our goal is always to save you time and money.  

So many people think that if they can keep up with the latest Barry’s Bootcamp, Orange Theory, Rumble, P90X, Barre, Pilates, or Jiu Jitsu workout, that they have the proper strength to be out of pain. “I can deadlift 500lbs, run a 4.6 second 40-meter dash, and kill it in all my workout routines, so why am I in pain?!” The truth is that these people are great at compensating. To complete these workouts, they may be using their muscle groups improperly.  These workouts are often complex and work on the big “show-me” muscles that are usually overcompensated anyways. When the doctors at ProActive Chiropractic break these big muscle groups apart and muscle test each individual muscle, these athletes are often surprised at how “weak” their muscles are when separated from another.

We constantly want to be a part of the newest workout routines, machines, tools, and fads. But is it good for us? These new trends are made to hype up new training licenses, not necessarily because they have been researched and proven to help improve health. 

The exercises given at ProActive Chiropractic are designed to focus on the smaller, undercompensated muscles that support the joints, ligaments, and deep muscles that help with posture and overall performance. The truth is that new workouts emerge for purposes of more certifications to promote the fitness business. They consist of complex movements that people cannot efficiently achieve without going back to the basics. You crawl before you walk, right? Same concept. 

Sure, you can perform these complicated exercises, but are you using the right muscle groups to perform them, or are you creating more of an imbalance and thus pain? Are you breathing correctly and can your brain connect to all the different muscles of your body so that one muscle group is not taking the brunt of the work for another muscle group? The doctors at ProActive Chiropractic will let you know! They will literally show and teach you the tools to perform these exercises properly, leaving you pain-free and even improve your posture.  

Understand that these are not glamorous, complex exercises you see at your workout class or on the newest feed on your IG or TikTok account. However, they are needed, effective, and present a challenge in that you have to rehabilitate your brain to connect to muscles that it has been neglecting for a long period of time. Check out some of our favorite low back therapeutic exercises on our YouTube channel! 

We are excited to help you get back to the movement you love, and by performing the prescribed exercises given by our doctors, we will get you there in no time! 

Kinesiology Tape: 

Kinesio Taping is a rehabilitative taping technique to increase stability around hypermobile joints. Additionally, the tape offers better circulation to the injured area, reduction of swelling and inflammation, speedy recovery of overused muscles, and reduced muscle cramping. 

We use different types of kinesiology and medical tape to suit your needs. When using tape as a brace, the doctors at ProActive make sure to give you the support you need while also allowing the surrounding muscles to properly engage so that your own muscle and body becomes a natural brace for itself as a result. Depending on allergies, sport, and how much you sweat, the doctors will use their expertise to know which tape and style of taping is needed for you! 

NormaTec: 

Come check out the most advanced rehab and recovery solution in just one small package! Whether you are trying to maintain a healthy workout routine or training for the Olympics, the NormaTec is your go-to to decrease inflammation and soreness. NormaTec’s cutting edge compression systems are the ultimate in recovery to fit your needs.  

NormaTec sleeves have been scientifically proven to enhance the body’s natural ability to recover, increase circulation, reduce pain, rejuvenate muscles, boost flexibility, and clear out lactate and metabolites. The benefits of NormaTec are so significant that 97% of professional teams rely on its technology to train harder and achieve more. Check out what the buzz is all about.  

At the end of the day, this device feels like a nice massage. Our patients usually find time in their busy schedules to come in, kick up their feet, relax, and meditate or look over emails while receiving all the great benefits of NormaTec. 

Posture Pointers:  

“Sit up straight!” “Stop slouching!” “Chin up, chest out, abs in!” We have all heard these cues from our parents, partners, coaches, personal trainers, fitness instructors, and doctors. Being conscious about the way you sit, stand, and perform exercises is a start, but what if the structures of your body simply will not allow you to get in that perfect posture position? What is perfect posture anyway?!  

The doctors at ProActive Chiropractic take the time to educate patients on proper posture and how to achieve it. We analyze patients’ posture and functional movement mechanics, address the under and overcompensated muscles and structures to allow for proper range of motion and movement, and give patients the correct postural exercises to address the deep muscles that support the skeletal system.  

Ergonomics:

Each new patient in our office will receive a comprehensive posture evaluation and 3-dimensional foot scan, revealing potential hidden problems that could go unnoticed. In addition, we offer virtual ergonomic assessments at a much lower cost than a traditional in-office ergonomic assessment with a full printout of findings and recommendations for you to keep.  

Equally important to diet and exercise, understanding how your body is commonly positioned against gravity can help doctors find the underlying issue with chronic pain.

Proper ergonomics allows for better productivity, promotes great posture, lessens fatigue, and decreases the pain that comes from repeated movements. 

Get expert low back pain treatment in the San Francisco Financial District area. Call 415-762-8141 or schedule an appointment online now. 

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