Glad to hear your back is feeling a little better. I agree with Ledyard Sensei's statement of
Just remember, just because it stops hurting doesn't mean it healed properly.
Make sure you are well on the way to recovery before jumping back into practice too vigorously.
Here are my opinions and advice FWIW. What people have posted about western doctors being somewhat limited in their treatment, I have found this to be true also. In my late teens and early twenties, I was plagued by a lot of lower back pain...probably due to my small-waisted frame and the improper heavy weightlifting I used to do. I saw typical western doctors and even a physical therapist once...none of it made much of a difference. The comment about treating the symptoms and not the root problem was very true. In my late twenties, my wife decided to make a career change and become a massage therapist. She spent about two weeks working on my lower back, and the years of pain were gone, and have not returned!
When you injure something muscular in your body, (particularly in your back, shoulder, and neck areas) your body has a built in defense mechanism. The musculature around the injured area will tense up and not relax in order to protect the injured area, particularly if your are using the muscles over and over again. Unfortunately, this restricts blood-flow to the injured area, and thus reduces the body's ability to heal itself. Unfortunately, without treatment and rest, this is a self-replicating cycle...the area cannot heal, so the musculature stays tense and eventually the muscle builds up scar tissue and adhesions (something like an internal callous) that the body considers an injury and the muscle tension becomes a chronic problem and the injury cannot heal. This is part of the reasoning for giving a patient muscle relaxants and prescribing rest, heat and ice...all of these things are designed to get not only the injured area to relax, but also the adjacent "protective" musculature. This allows increased blood flow to the injury, thus assisting with the body's natural healing processes. This can also be accomplished, much more effectively, with good professional massage. Massage is designed to relax all of the muscles around the injured area, and increase the blood/lymph supply as well. After the surrounding musculature is relaxed, a good massage therapist can then work on the injured area (as long as the injury is not too fresh) with various techniques like deep tissue, myofacial release, and trigger point therapies (these are particularly good for older/chronic injuries).
Another thing I highly recommend, from personal experience, is cycles of heating and icing. I have had some acute painful injuries that were healed VERY quickly through using this process, and it is also great for chronic problems. Again, the whole point is to increase blood supply to the injured area. Here is how to do it:
-the best way is to use water, however a heating pad and ice packs can work pretty well too, especially if the area is hard to reach or submerse (like your lower back or shoulder)
-submerse the injured area in water, as HOT (not warm) as you can stand,usually in the area of 104F-108F degrees; your skin should turn red, and it should be on the uncomfortable side (DO NOT USE WATER SO HOT THAT YOU SCALD YOURSELF)
- leave the injured area in the HOT water for at least 5-10 minutes, preferably closer to 10
- IMMEDIATELY move the injured area from the hot water to COLD water, this water should be EXTREMELY uncomfortably cold (for example: if I had a hand injury, I would half fill a large bowl or pot with ice, and then fill it the rest of the way with cold tapwater to submerge my hand in) try to leave the injured area in the cold water for at least 5 minutes...you probably won't make it to 10 as it will be too uncomfortable. (this part of the process sucks, and it really makes the injury throb and hurt
!) you should go from feeling cold, to pain, to numbness
-IMMEDIATELY go back to the HOT water
-Repeat this process at least 3 times (preferably 4 or 5)...you will find that after the first cycle, the nerves of your skin are somewhat shocked
, and the HOT and COLD water will not feel AS uncomfortable (it still won't be much fun though
- I cannot stress how important it is to make sure the water is both very HOT and very COLD...it is essential to the process that the water not simply be warm or cool.
Also it is essential to move directly and immediately from the hot to the cold and vice versa...don't let the injury out of the hot or cold for very long
- I have heard varying opinions on rather to end on hot or cold. My personal experience is to end on hot...this really increases the blood flow, and it tends to feel good to, but I don't think it matters either way. The whole idea is forcing blood flow in and out of the area and really opening up the blood vessels.
-The bad news...the whole process is usually very uncomfortable
- The good news.... you will feel so much better when you are done with it, and the injury really does heal faster.
- as you can probably figure out, it is easier if you have someone helping you by re-heating/ refilling the water
Like I said, I have had great success with using this process. I would even recommend doing this as a full body thing if you can get the chance. When I took a trip to Japan, one of my favorite things to do was visit an Onsen (traditional Japanese bath house) and take a HOT plunge followed by a plunge in the cold tub (brrrrr....about 40-50 degrees F.) You can literally feel your skin shrink and expand. When I was done with a few of those cycles, I would feel completely energized, even after a long day of sight-seeing and Aikido Keiko.
Wow, this turned into a much longer post than I anticipated...hope this all helps.
BTW, if utilizing a chiropractor (and this is just my opinion) find one who combines some type of muscle release, myofacial, and/or massage therapy with the adjustments (most good chiropractors do), rather than one who just wants to "crack your bones". While I think there is merit to adjustment and re-alignment, there is a reason something is out of alignment, and that problem needs to be addressed and corrected. If you run into a chiropractor who is against muscle therapy...run! They aren't interested in correcting your problem, they only want you to keep having to come back for more and more adjustments (cha-ching!). I have nothing against chiropractors, and have gone to one in the past...but again, she highly advocated muscle therapy in conjunction with the adjustments (and in fact, was trained in and used trigger point and myofacial release therapy herself)