A Chiropractor Talks about Relieving Back Pain
As part of our series about treating back pain in Shanghai, Body & Soul practitioners will share how they address back pain, answer some common questions and offer tips. Herman Szeto has more than 25 years of experience in chiropractic treatment. He’s treated hundreds of patients in Body & Soul’s clinics throughout Shanghai.
What does a chiropractor do?
Chiropractors deal with the joints and help them to work the way they should. Every joint has a normal range of motion. When a patient experiences limited range of motion and related pain, we help to get the joints working properly again. This includes soft tissue work, stretching and joint manipulation (also known as “adjustment”). With simple exercises to “work the joint”, blood flow increases, bringing oxygen to the cells and taking away waste.
To maintain the benefits of treatment, the chiropractor can provide some lifestyle pointers (see below for a few tips) and exercises. Awareness and small pattern changes can make a big difference. Continued stretching, strengthening of weak abdominals and movement to the joints can minimize back pain and prevent additional problems.
Who can a chiropractor help?
The most common reasons patients seek treatment are low back pain, neck and shoulder pain. Neck and shoulder problems are on the rise as people spend more time on the computer. In recent years, thumb and hand issues are becoming as prevalent as the smart phones that cause them. When patients come in, they’re often experiencing an acute episode where pain has become unbearable or the chronic pain is exhausting them.
In Shanghai, many patients come to the chiropractor with a body full of aches and pains. They work long days and may have a commute on top of that. So they may be sitting 12 hours or more/day. They get little exercise and may have a poor diet. In today’s modern, high-tech world, even those who try to stay healthy with exercise and diet often suffer pain and overuse injuries.
Though chiropractic also treats acute injuries, chronic pain from this type of wear and tear is more common today. Whatever the cause, chiropractic focuses on returning the joints to a normal range of motion so the body is working in harmony again. Patients living a stressful lifestyle may need occasional adjustments. By getting a regular “tune up”, the patient can reduce the chance of severe or chronic pain.
Why do I hear popping noises when I get a chiropractic adjustment? Is the process safe?
Patients may hear clicking or popping noises during the adjustment process. Many joints (synovial joints) are surrounded by synovial fluid, which lubricates the joint to help it function. Small pockets of gas get caught in the joint (often a result of inactivity or too much of one kind of activity), which takes up space and puts pressure on the joint. When the joint is manipulated, the release of this gas (rapid “popping of the bubble”, aka joint cavitation) is what causes the clicking or popping sound.
Chiropractic is very safe and effective when delivered properly. Make sure you only get treatment from a trained and experienced chiropractor. Practitioners should get a health history before beginning treatment. Your chiropractor can walk you through the treatment and ensure you are comfortable with the process.
Wellness Maintenance Tips from the Chiropractor
- Get some exercise every day. A 30-minute walk is enough to help your body recover and keep from getting so stiff.
- Weak abdominal muscles and tight hamstrings cause the back to be overworked. Some people have a misconception that they need to strengthen the back. Typically, the back is strong and the abdominals are weak. Focus on strengthening the abdominals and stretching.
- Every 30 minutes, take at least 30 seconds to get up from your seat. Walk around to get the blood flowing and look out into the distance to give your eyes and neck a rest.
- The back is meant to move in all directions, but office work and time spent on phones means we spend almost all our time in flexion (bent forward). Try to stretch or move briefly in the opposite direction of your regular position. So, for example, if you are constantly using the computer mouse with your right arm, stretch that arm behind your back or rotate the shoulder.
Herman Szeto offers chiropractic evaluation and treatment at Body & Soul’s Hongmei Road, Downtown and Century Park clinics. Click here to schedule an appointment with him.