, Gloucester, MA


July 17, 2008

Before and after X-rays of a woman who had "forward head posture," but corrected it.

11He owns and operates his own FedEx Ground truck — day in, day out. A prerequisite of the job is to be able to lift a 150-pound package, and that ability gets tested regularly.

"You really do get those 100-pound, 140-pound packages," LaChance, 58, said. "I usually deliver between 250 and 340 packages a day. This is definitely a physically demanding job. You're twisting and bending and placing a lot of weight on your back."

LaChance's daily routine has caused him substantial physical pain, as is true for many people. Long days hunched over a desk, loading and unloading heavy boxes, even getting in and out of a chair improperly: It all adds up to 31 million Americans experiencing lower back pain at any given time — including an annual 50 percent of the country's work force, according to the American Chiropractic Association.

For most people, such issues are correctable by strengthening weak core muscles and doing daily posture exercises. But for others like LaChance, the problem is much more serious and can lead to spinal postural misalignment, which causes headaches, dizziness, pain and numbness in the limbs. It also can affect the nervous system's ability to do its job, as the spinal cord is a conduit for messages between the brain and the body, said Christopher Condon, a chiropractor at the Andover Spine Center.

"It's like if the frame of a car is out of alignment and you keep driving it; the car is going to wear out. That's what is happening to the body," Condon said.

Condon is a part of the 15 percent of chiropractors in America who specialize in spinal corrective care techniques, known as chiropractic biophysics, which restores the tissue in front or to the side of the spine. X-rays can show where the spine is curving unnaturally, as well as reveal when it has returned to the proper state. Once the passive rehabilitation process is complete, core exercises can target the surrounding muscles.

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