Chronic inflammation is quite common and can cause a variety of painful back conditions. Fortunately, chiropractic treatment can extinguish the inflammation at its core/root cause and bring long-lasting relief. Inflammation can be a significant factor in causing body and back pain. The proper and lasting treatment goes beyond anti-inflammatory medications. The objective is to extinguish the inflammation completely.
The number of diseases associated with chronic inflammation is increasing exponentially. An estimated 60% of Americans deal with at least one chronic condition caused completely or in part by inflammation. Inflammation is the body’s immune response to something that is not right in the body. Typically, there is:
- Warmth/heat signaling an inflammatory response from injury or infection
Chronic inflammation can present through a series of symptoms, including:
- General fatigue
- Pain throughout the body
- Off feeling/not focused
Inflammatory conditions can include:
- Skin changes like a rash
- Joint swelling
- Lymph node swelling
- Endocrine, heart, lung, and neurological complications
Inflammation can generate inflammatory back pain as well when this happens. This is because the immune system is trying to protect the body from whatever is trying to infiltrate. The cells and chemicals fight the attack and try to heal whatever is going on. Sometimes, there is nothing going on but the immune system becomes hyper-reactive and attacks itself. This is the case of autoimmune disease, or what becomes chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation lasts longer than 3 months and can lead to diseases like:
- Heart disease
- Autoimmune inflammation can manifest in rheumatological disorders like rheumatoid arthritis
Inflammation and Inflammatory Conditions
Autoimmune inflammation that presents as ankylosing spondylitis and rheumatoid arthritis is in a different category. This is when the body begins attacking itself. This can be triggered by a viral infection, which stimulates the immune system. This can cause:
- Joint destruction
- Ligament pain
- Soft tissue swelling
- Some conditions are hereditary
Inflammatory Spinal Conditions
Inflammation can travel into the body’s spinal and neurological systems. This results in painful conditions that can affect an individual’s quality of life.
Ankylosing spondylitis usually starts in the lower back and can spread up. It is a form of arthritis that causes the vertebrae to fuse together. It can also cause inflammation in the urological and ophthalmological systems. It is believed to have a somewhat genetic connection. There is a marker called HLA B27 that is usually positive in patients and is more common in young males.
Rheumatoid arthritis/RA causes inflammation in synovial joints. These produce a fluid that helps lubricate and nourish the joints. RA is found most commonly in the hands, wrists, and knees, but can also present in the spine’s facet joints that connect vertebrae. There is some genetic association but is common with smoking and obesity. It is diagnosed with lab work, like inflammation markers, rheumatoid factor, and physical examination. RA pain typically presents in the cervical spine or neck region.
Transverse Myelitis and Multiple Sclerosis
These conditions are closely tied and caused by inflammation in the central nervous system/CNS. The immune system attacks the nerve cells and removes the fatty substance that insulates the nerves and helps them transmit impulses to and from the central nervous system. This causes:
- Bladder/bowel issues
Transverse myelitis affects the spinal cord whereas multiple sclerosis can affect the brain and the spinal cord. Transverse myelitis is typically acute, whereas multiple sclerosis is long-term and can have an increasing/decreasing course of progressive symptoms. And transverse myelitis can be a symptom of multiple sclerosis. Certain lifestyle choices/habits can cause or worsen inflammation. Obesity, smoking, and an unhealthy diet can have a significant impact on chronic inflammation.
Spinal Structures Affected
Inflammation can affect every area of the spine. From the lower back to inflammation of the vertebrae themselves. Injuries to the spine, that include the:
This can cause swelling and a build-up of fluid that can be found on an MRI. This is the preferred method of detecting inflammation. When the term itis is used this usually indicates a type of inflammation. For example, neuritis means inflammation of the nerve/s. This can be seen with nerve compression where the nerve is swollen on an MRI.
Extinguish Spinal Inflammation
Causes of inflammation can be traced back to lifestyle choices, but can also be alleviated through healthy lifestyle adjustments that turn into habits.
Nutritional Health Coaching
Recommended is to avoid or decrease processed foods, trans fats, and sugar. Consider supplementing vitamin D, magnesium, and omega 3s.
Quitting smoking will improve circulation and extinguish vascular inflammation.
Regular Physical Activity/Exercise
Aerobic exercises improve cardiac function and circulation as well as exercises that support the spine ergonomically. Core and pelvic stabilization are necessary for lower back pain.
For acute inflammation caused by injuries steroids and NSAIDs can help with severe pain and inflammation.
When the spine and the body’s joints are in proper alignment, and the nerves are functioning at optimal levels the body’s biomechanics return to normal. This stops neuropeptides from producing and helps extinguish inflammation.
With the spine, surgery is not recommended as a first-line treatment unless it is an emergency or there is potential for permanent neurological damage. If medication, chiropractic, physical therapy, supplements, lifestyle changes, and/or complementary treatments like acupuncture do not help and quality of life and function are significantly impacted, then elective surgery can be considered.
Body Composition Spotlight
All-around Exercise Regimen
As individuals continue to struggle with obesity and functional fitness with age, exercise becomes more important than ever. It is crucial to combine diet and regular physical activity/exercise to lose weight, have a favorable impact on body composition and lifespan. A well-rounded exercise regimen that incorporates all types of fitness. Aerobic exercise helps maintain an elevated heart rate and helps get rid of fat-free mass.
Resistance training helps to build lean muscle mass. Combining the two, with concurrent training, or utilizing a HIIT workout when there is not enough time will work wonders. Being better equipped and understanding why exercise is important for the body’s health, different types of exercise, and which ones are best suited for each individual’s needs will keep the body in top form for the long term.
Dr. Alex Jimenez’s Blog Post Disclaimer
The scope of our information is limited to chiropractic, musculoskeletal, physical medicines, wellness, and sensitive health issues and/or functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions. We use functional health & wellness protocols to treat and support care for injuries or disorders of the musculoskeletal system. Our posts, topics, subjects and insights cover clinical matters, issues, and topics that relate and support directly or indirectly our clinical scope of practice.*
Our office has made a reasonable attempt to provide supportive citations and has identified the relevant research study or studies supporting our posts. We also make copies of supporting research studies available to the board and or the public upon request. We understand that we cover matters that require an additional explanation as to how it may assist in a particular care plan or treatment protocol; therefore, to further discuss the subject matter above, please feel free to ask Dr. Alex Jimenez or contact us at 915-850-0900. The provider(s) Licensed in Texas& New Mexico
What Is Inflammation?: StatPearls. (November 2020) “Chronic Inflammation” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK493173/
Types of Inflammatory Spinal Conditions: Current Opinion in Rheumatology. (January 2014) “When and Where Does Inflammation Begin in Rheumatoid Arthritis?” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4033623/