18 Wheels, 23 Discs: Is Your Back at Risk for Injury?
July 1, 2004
As this is my first article for Truck West, please allow me to introduce myself. I am a Doctor of Chiropractic, and it is my intention to inform and educate my readers about health concerns that pertain to professional drivers and to others in sim...
As this is my first article for Truck West, please allow me to introduce myself. I am a Doctor of Chiropractic, and it is my intention to inform and educate my readers about health concerns that pertain to professional drivers and to others in similar lines of work. The articles will each have a theme relating to your health, occupation and of course, your spine.
My goal is simple, help prevent injury through awareness and education, and to present those that are injured with treatment options. Chiropractors work closely in conjunction with Registered Massage Therapists (RMT’s), Physical Therpists (PT’s) and Medical Doctors (MD’s), to help the patient get well as quickly as possible. My goal with this month’s publication is simply to introduce myself and report on some interesting information that applies to most of our readers.
The goal of Chiropractic care is threefold. First, we try to get you out of pain. Second, the problem causing the pain is addressed and corrected if possible. Last, the area in question is rehabilitated, so the possibility of further occurrences are diminished. So, how is this different from other health professions you may ask? Chiropractic looks at the body as a self-healing, self-regulating mechanism that functions optimally without interference from outside sources (toxins, trauma, psychological stress, etc.). In other words, we look at the body’s ability to adapt to outside stressors, or the view that disease occurs from the inside out and it is treated as such.
An example of how most people approach injury or pain is that when they experience lower back pain their common instinct is to stop what they are doing until the pain subsides. This does not mean that their problem is gone, but rather temporarily covered up. Whether they take pain medication or wait for the pain to subside on its own, the result is the same – they have made their short-term problem into a potentially long-term or chronic condition.
This is the approach commonly used by most people and health care professionals outside of Chiropractic.
How often do you go to the physician, and you hear the words, “Just rest it for a couple of days and take some of these.” That is, until the next time it acts up, or the time after.
Do you ever hear what is causing that problem? If so, what are your options besides more drugs or surgery?
Besides the pain interfering with your professional abilities, how about the pain medication, or down time following a medical procedure?
Most of us don’t have the luxury of taking weeks off to help the body heal, we are looking at examples of health care from the outside –> in.
Chiropractic addresses the issue a little differently. First, we try to help relieve pain through specific Chiropractic adjustments (joint manipulation), and we may add a regimen of Massage Therapy to aid in this process.
Second, we look at what is causing the problem. In other words, is there a part of your spine that is not functioning properly?
And if so, can we fix it through Chiropractic treatment?
If we cannot help in this situation, our training helps us figure out which health care specialist might be better suited to address your problem.
Third, we help you rehabilitate your injury through strengthening and stretching, and by so doing, we help you learn more about how your body functions under stress and how to handle it.
This last step combined with the other two, act to help you try and prevent further occurrences of the injury or problem through educating the mind and the body together. This process demonstrates healing and prevention from the inside –> out.
Chiropractic treatment involves other aspects of the healing process too.
We look at your body as a whole, not just the part that is not working properly.
We also counsel on nutrition, exercise and other important factors that help in maintaining balance and integrity within the body.
Workplace ergonomics and how it translates to stress on your bodies is a very important aspect of our care and we try to address this with each patient.
A recent study has shown that truckers and others who drive for a living report more back problems than those working in any other occupation.
Scientists have theorized that constant, long-term “whole-body vibration” caused by driving accelerates degeneration and herniation of the body’s 23 spinal discs, leading to lower-back pain and disability.
Researchers compared 45 pairs of identical male twins who had distinctly different driving patterns throughout their lives, in which one twin had spent a lot of time driving occupationally, and the other had not.
The amount of spinal disc degeneration each man suffered was determined based on readings from magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Twins were studied because in the absence of outside factors that affect spinal degeneration, a set of twins’ spines should appear fairly similar at any given point in time.
Driving time did not appear to affect spinal disc degeneration; men who drove multiple hours daily for many years were no more likely to have significant disc degeneration than their twins who did not.
No other spinal disorders appeared more common in professional drivers, either, in this study appearing in The Lancet.
This is good news if you drive an 18-wheeler: Your spine may not suffer permanent damage from long hours on the road.
Yet the fact remains that back pain is common in drivers. Whether the pain is caused by muscle fatigue or damage, nerve changes at the cellular level or some other factor, your doctor of chiropractic can help prevent it.
This article is meant to educate and stimulate thought for many of you who have not addressed your health beyond the pain and symptoms level.
I look forward to addressing other aspects of your health that may not have seemed important to you, but truly are, and by doing so create an awareness for the trucking community and other working communities about the importance of injury prevention and an understanding of alternatives to conventional approaches.
I hope this article was informative, even provocative, and I welcome your feedback and suggestions for future publications.
– Dr. Marc Blackstone is a chiropractor at City Health Chiropractic & Massage located in the RoadKing Truck Stop in Calgary, Alberta. He can be reached at 403-301-3322. You can also visit his Web site at www.blackstoneclinic.com.