The Importance of Spinal Health

RAPID CITY, S.D. — National Spinal Health Month is observed every October as a public reminder of the importance of caring for your spine. The unfortunate reality is that most people don’t think about their spinal health unless they start experiencing symptoms or an issue.

According to Dr. Robert Kuyper, DC, DABCI, a chiropractor at the Alternative Health Care Center, it’s important to adopt the mindset of caring for your spine similarly to how you care for your teeth. “People don’t wait for their teeth to go bad. They regularly visit their dentist and practice daily dental hygiene,” said Dr. Kuyper. “You should be doing the same thing with your spine.”

Even if you’re not in pain, Dr. Kuyper suggests having a yearly check-up with a chiropractor who can take X-rays and evaluate your spinal health. Through this evaluation, your doctor can spot issues early and provide treatment to correct them before they worsen or become chronic.

On the other hand, if you’re currently in pain or experiencing other symptoms, it’s important to visit a doctor at your earliest convenience for an evaluation. According to Dr. Kuyper, around 84 percent of people will experience acute or chronic low back pain during their lifetime, however, many of those people won’t receive the care they need. In fact, only around 20 percent of the population use chiropractic care.

Dr. Kuyper also notes that there are other symptoms that people experience that they may not connect to their spinal health. For example, sciatica is a common patient complaint at Alternative Health Care Center, yet most people don’t realize that the leg pain caused by sciatica actually stems from the lower back. Other common complaints that can be connected to the spine include headaches and hand numbness.

If you’re experiencing acute or chronic symptoms like back pain, sciatica, neck pain, numbness, or chronic headaches, it’s important to work with a doctor to establish a treatment plan. At Alternative Health Care Center, their team of professionals offer a number of therapies, including chiropractic care, physical therapy, acupuncture, dry needling, and massage therapy to holistically address patients’ spinal issues.

“Only around six percent of chiropractic clinics in America are integrated, meaning they have chiropractors and physical therapists working together,” said Dr. Kuyper. “We’re very fortunate to have that in Rapid City.”

In terms of how you can care for your spine on a daily basis, it’s important to get up from your chair regularly and practice some basic exercises, such as lateral bends. As little as five minutes of stretching can go a long way in improving your flexibility and spinal health.

“You only have one spine, so you have to take care of it. You want to make sure you address issues properly so they don’t become chronic issues or lead to spinal surgery,” Dr. Kuyper. “I always say to my patients ‘what can we do to stop you from getting to that point?’”

The answer to that question goes back to getting a yearly evaluation of your spine, seeking treatment when needed, and keeping your body fluid and mobile through daily movement and stretching.

To schedule an appointment to evaluate your spinal health visit the Alternative Health Care Center of Black Hills website or call 605-341-4850.

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