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Chiropractic Management of Lower Back Pain for Patients With Prosthetic Limbs

The unpredictable impact of losing a limb can come as a serious blow and be devastating to a person’s emotional state. We’d often be surprised at how even a little change in our life can suddenly send us into an emotional crisis. What alone if this change was huge like losing an appendage we’ve always been accustomed to? Often, this leaves us feeling like we don’t fit into the world like we once did.

Going through the process of limb amputation and the often-accompanying physical therapy to learn to use prosthetic limbs can be traumatic enough. Let alone if and when it is met with more pain than we expected. According to the Journal of Rehabilitation Research and Development, back pain is incredibly common and more prevalent after having an amputation compared to the general population.

In fact, they found that 52 percent of their subjects with amputation reported persistent, bothersome back pain. Seventeen percent stated that their back pain was the worst pain problem they experienced. This seems to be particularly true in cases involving lower limb amputation. The general population experiences back pain, as well, so we all know how aggravating (and sometimes, debilitating) it can be.

So, how do we manage this pain?

Pain management is crucial for an amputee to maintain a satisfying quality of life post-amputation. According to an article published in 2013 in inMotion magazine, Dr. Cecile Evans listed chiropractic therapy as one of the top five ways to maintain phantom limb pain. This seems to be particularly true for patients with leg amputations since chiropractic therapy focuses on spinal alignment and balance. Therefore, seeking treatment at a New York City chiropractor may be the best option for trying to manage pain after an amputation.

While things like acupuncture, physical therapy, and massages can all be beneficial to pain management, there is a lot of evidence that chiropractic techniques can be helpful, as well. For example, one study conducted in 2012 found that “leg length inequality” was an important factor in decreasing lower back pain (leg length is something chiropractors take very seriously). This helps them adjust the prosthetic to work with the way the patient walks, aiding in a healthy stride. The success of this tactic was discovered when they found that after 18 treatments, lower back pain severity was calmed and there was an overall improvement with gait biomechanics.

These findings are significant both because they shed light on the importance of chiropractic intervention in amputees, but also because they give hope to those with amputations and significant lower back pain. Considering that the study found that in 71 percent of amputees that experience lower back pain that this pain was significant enough to be an “important cause of secondary disability,” it seems that chiropractic intervention can aid amputees in adjusting to life with fewer limbs.

Other tips for comfort?

Considering that liners and socks are key to maintaining comfort between ourselves and our prosthetic limbs, it is going to be crucial to have multiple pairs of Knit-Rite prosthetic socks so that a clean pair is always available. Considering that a prosthetic sock isn’t worn on the feet, we may be tempted to think that they don’t need to be washed as often as regular socks. However, that is not the case at all. In fact, according to the amputee coalition, “The warm, moist environment inside a prosthetic liner is an ideal incubator for bacteria.” This can lead to infection and more discomfort if not addressed. This means that keeping as many pairs of prosthetic socks as we would keep of regular socks is probably the best tactic.

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