Spinal Maintenance

One of the main frustrations that I hear from patients is that the effects of treatment offered for back pain are so temporary.  They don’t seem to last and the pain keeps coming back.  My answer:  if we cared for our backs the same way we cared for our teeth, we would have much less incidence of recurring back pain.  The typical patient stops all treatment when the pain goes away.  That would be equivalent to stopping your brushing and flossing after the toothache was fixed.  If we stop our preventative measures, it is only a matter of time before we start to have symptoms again.

With dental care:

  • We teach our kids how to brush and floss at a very early age (as soon as their teeth come in) and we tell them to do this every day, 2-3 times a day, for the rest of their lives.
  • Our dentists recommend 2 check-ups a year–a good cleaning with a dental hygienist and a visual inspection by the dentist to see if there are any cavities (areas of decay that gradually form in the teeth and that are usually asymptomatic).
  • Now, dentists recommend x-rays of the teeth every 1-2 years to check for hidden problems lurking below the surface–all in an effort to prevent the cavities from progressing.  We don’t wait for our teeth to start hurting.  We are taught that there is no cure for tooth decay and that we should take care of our teeth even when they don’t hurt.

With spine care:

  • We should teach our kids at an early age how to stretch and do pressure point therapy to reduce tension in their spines and how to do core stabilization exercises to promote strong, stable backs.  We should also teach good spinal hygiene (proper postures for bending and lifting, taking periodic breaks from computers and cell phones, etc).
  • We encourage periodic spinal check-ups.  Most chiropractors recommend once a month.  A trip to the mechanical spine specialist who palpates the spine and feels for areas of restriction or fixation–even when there is no pain.  These fixations are not visible so they won’t show up on x-rays.  They are palpable and immediately treated with spinal manipulation.  Spinal manipulation frees up the kink in the joint and restores function in the joint.  Research has shown that joint manipulation done on a regular basis and in the absence of symptoms helps maintain the health and function of the spine.  Enhancing joint motion may impede the progression of degeneration in the joint.

Read about The D-Generation and D-Generates Here.

Halvorson’s Recipe for Spinal Maintenance:

  • Daily–walk for a half an hour, stretch a little, and do pressure point therapy throughout the day, especially into your trouble spots (Suboccipitals, Trapezius, Rhomboids, Piriformis).
  • Daily–be mindful of your postures and body mechanics when sitting, standing, bending, and lifting.  Take periodic breaks from prolonged postures to stretch and do pressure points.
  • Daily–Eat foods that decrease inflammation and avoid foods that promote inflammation.
  • 3 times per week, do your strengthening and core stabilization exercises:  bridges, bird dogs, planks (side and stirring the pot), gym ball exercises, yoga, etc.
  • Once a month:  Spinal manipulation once a month can help prevent exacerbations of pain and keep the spine functioning optimally.  Senna Study on Maintenance

Every Tin Man Needs a Chiropractor