Getting your health back after a spinal injury can be problematic if you do not approach it holistically. What is meant by the term holistic? In general, it is caring for the person as a whole vs. individual parts, and using techniques that assist different bodily systems. It can be treating the mind as well as the body. For example, it is well known that depression is an important risk factor for back pain.
When dealing with a mechanical spinal problem, the doctor needs to consider the condition of the disks and ligaments, scar tissue, muscle strength, posture, movement, and alignment. A simple prescription, while effective at reducing pain, is not a good solution in the long run. For example, the scar that forms in muscles following an injury is much weaker when NSAIDs (like ibuprofen) are use. The patient needs to also consider the side effects of stomach or gastrointestinal bleeding that can come with long-term use. Leaving joints problems to sit for years while treatment only focuses on masking the pain will just make future rehabilitation more difficult and less effective.
Pain is a signal for your body to avoid certain movements and can be very protective. While muscle pain is good during rehabilitation, if there is ligament or joint pain, then it’s a sign that you’re pushing it too hard.
Without attention to joint injuries, exercise and stretching will also not produce the desired results over time. It’s hard to maintain exercise when there is joint pain. Chiropractic care can keep the spine and other joints flexible while you also approach the other aspects of spine function with specific exercises and stretching.
Maintaining a healthy body weight is also part of any holistic approach. If you’re overweight, this adds tremendous stress to your spine. In some cases, it may be important to first get your weight down, before commencing an exercise program or weight training.
In addition to proper weight control, you have to also consider sound nutrition in terms of vitamin and mineral consumption. Most patients need to do better at eating green leafy vegetables, fresh fruits, and other nutritious foods. One also has to avoid harmful fats and the chemicals/preservatives that are often present in highly processed foods. Supplements such as manganese and glucosamine chondroitin may help joint health. Although there are few studies on how effective these supplements are, the downside or side effects associated with their use are quite minimal.
A doctor of chiropractic can advise you on integrating a holistic approach with spinal joint care, strength training, flexibility, and sound nutrition.