Treating low back pain without surgery

With over 3 million Americans going to the emergency room each year complaining of back problems, Dr. Kenneth Eastman, chiropractor at Eastman Chiropractic Clinic, calls back pain a real epidemic. For many people he said the problem goes un-treated for years and the pain worsens.

KPLC employee Richard Doss spends most of his work day on his feet moving cameras, lifting set items and hustling out the door for breaking news stories. Doss, a studio camera operator and photographer, said, "my lower back is hurting. It's a sharp pain...feels like someone's sticking you with a needle."

Doss sought help for the pain from a physician who referred him to an orthopedic specialist. The specialist then suggested physical therapy which, he said, "helped, but it never got the pain to go away fully."

He even considered going under the knife.

"I've got to work two jobs to support my everything else, so I can't take any time off for a surgery," explained Doss.

Surgery is right for certain cases, but it is rare, said Dr. Eastman.

"Patients who should be seeing a surgeon or considering a surgical approach may be as low as 2%," said Dr. Eastman.

He said Doss is one of many workers fighting just to stand up.

"Low back pain is literally an epidemic. It is the number one cause for lost time in industry," continued Dr. Eastman.

He said the cause is generally lack of conditioning and chronic poor posture. He added that over the counter remedies sometimes do help like heat pads or anti-inflammatory medications.

Dr. Eastman ran procedural tests like x-rays and stretching exercises to find the source of his pain. He called it a crick in the low back and suggested an alignment.

"It has a very good long lasting relief for the patient, but the difficulty is if he doesn't change how he works and lives…it will probably return," said Dr. Eastman.

"I'm still going to be on my feet still going to be active," said Doss.

Since the first session Doss has returned to Dr. Eastman's office and discovered the problem may be worse than originally thought. Dr. Eastman diagnosed him with a degenerated disk in the lower section of his spine. He has since recommended that Doss avoid sitting frequently unless supported with a pillow behind his back to stop the compression of his spine. He will also be going back to the chiropractor for a couple more weeks of sessions to keep treating the alignment problem.