Robert J. Zapf, MS, DC
Robert J. Zapf, MS, DC is a highly experienced chiropractor based in Fairfax, VA, who specializes in the treatment of low back pain. With over 35 years of practice experience, he has helped countless patients alleviate their back pain and improve their overall quality of life. As a former professor at Palmer College of Chiropractic, Dr. Zapf has trained many aspiring chiropractors and continues to stay up to date with the latest advancements in the field of chiropractic medicine. If you are in Fairfax, VA, and looking for effective treatment for your low back pain, he is here to help. Contact Dr. Zapf today to schedule an appointment and take the first step towards a pain-free life.
Call (703) 455-9555
This page contains a Comprehensive Guide to the Treatment of Back Pain including Back Pain Treatment, Causes, Symptoms and Home Care Tips.
"When Spinal Manipulative Therapy (SMT) was directly compared to usual medical care, patients receiving SMT reported significantly greater reductions in pain and disability at the 4-week follow-up."
Gevers-Montoro C, Provencher B, Descarreaux M, Ortega de Mues A, Piché M. Clinical Effectiveness and Efficacy of Chiropractic Spinal Manipulation for Spine Pain. Front Pain Res (Lausanne). 2021 Oct 25;2:765921.
Welcome to our comprehensive guide for chiropractic treatment of low back pain. If you're looking for an alternative to drugs and surgery for managing your back pain, chiropractic care might be the solution for you. Chiropractic treatment focuses on restoring the proper alignment of your spine and improving your body's natural healing abilities to relieve pain and discomfort.
Low back pain can be caused by many factors, including muscle strain, herniated discs, and arthritis. It can also occur due to poor posture or an injury. It is important for Dr. Zapf to understand the root cause of your pain to determine the most effective chiropractic treatment for your pain. He will carefully and methodically examine you to discover the underlying cause of your pain. This involves 3 steps:
Based on the results of the case history, physical exam and diagnostic tests, Dr. Zapf will determine the root cause of your low back pain and develop a treatment plan tailored to your specific needs.
Low Back Pain can be caused by a myriad of different conditions. Below is a listing of the most common conditions treated in Dr. Zapf’s clinic.
Muscle strain is a common cause of low back pain. A low back muscle strain occurs when the muscles in the lower back are overstretched or torn. This can cause a variety of symptoms, which may include:
The spinal discs are soft, cushion-like structures that separate and cushion the vertebrae. When the inner part of a disc bulges out and presses on a nerve root, it's called a herniated disc. This can cause a variety of symptoms.
Sacroiliac joint dysfunction (SIJD) is a condition where there is abnormal movement or alignment of the sacroiliac joint, which connects the sacrum (the triangular bone at the base of the spine) to the pelvis. This dysfunction can cause pain in the lower back, hips, and legs.
The pain associated with SIJD is typically located on one side of the lower back or buttocks and may also radiate down the back of the leg. It can be aggravated by certain activities such as standing, sitting for prolonged periods, walking, or running.
This is a condition that occurs when the spinal canal, which houses the spinal cord and nerves, becomes narrow, leading to compression of these structures. This can cause a variety of symptoms, which may include:
This is a common type of arthritis that affects the joints including the joints of the spine. It typically occurring in older adults. It happens when the cartilage that cushions the joints gradually breaks down, causing the bones to rub against each other, leading to pain, stiffness, and swelling. Here are some common symptoms of osteoarthritis:
Piriformis syndrome is a condition that occurs when the piriformis muscle, which is located deep in the buttock region, becomes tight or irritated and compresses the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve is a large nerve that runs from the lower back down to the feet, and compression of this nerve can cause pain, tingling, and numbness in the buttocks and legs.
This is a condition that occurs when one vertebra in the spine slips out of position and onto the vertebra below it. This can cause a variety of symptoms, which may include:
The Sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in the human body. It run from the lower back to the toes. If it is compressed it can result in a condition known as sciatica. Sciatica can cause a variety of symptoms:
We are redefining treatment for low back pain. We’ve rejected the old notion that you can heal and revitalize your spine, the core of your being, with superficial treatments and quick fixes delivered in a stressful and impersonal manner. We view our therapy as the beginning of a journey for renewal of your body, mind, and spirit.
Using the information gathered in your case history, examination, and diagnostic imaging, we will design a multifaceted treatment program. We view healing as a process not an event. Your treatment is only one element of this process. Relaxation, exercise, and nutrition are also necessary. Therefore, we’ve created an environment that will support optimal healing and renewal. Your treatment sessions will be unhurried, in a private, relaxing space. Therapy will consist of a custom blend of spinal manipulation, physical therapy, exercise, and massage.
Because you are unique, your program will be one of a kind, designed to meet your individual needs. Your treatment duration will depend on several factors including the cause, severity, and chronicity of your illness. Research shows that healing time for most musculoskeletal condition that can be treated with conservative care like chiropractic care is between 6 – 12 weeks. Our treatment programs can be divided into 3 phases:
Our goal in the initial stage of care is to quickly reduce your inflammation and pain. Depending on the cause and severity of your pain, each of your therapy sessions will consist of a gentle blend of:
During this phase, we move beyond simple pain relief. Your therapy will gradually evolve to match your exact level of progress. The tissues of the back, neck, arms, and legs will continue to be gently mobilized in order to reduce healing time, minimize formation of scar tissue adhesions and reduce pressure on spinal nerves.
Progressive strengthening of back muscles and supporting tissues stabilizes your back and increases your capacity to perform home, work, and recreational activities. Imagine being able to golf, swim, play tennis, hike – without pain!
The “usual medical treatment” by a primary care physician for low back pain consists of prescriptions for various categories of drugs. These drugs are designed to reduce pain, decrease inflammation and relax muscle spasms. What they do not treat is the root cause of most types of low back pain.
Furthermore, it should be noted that prolonged use of these drugs is contraindicated because of the increased likelihood of adverse side effects. The exact definition of prolonged use can vary depending on the medication and the individual patient's circumstances, but it typically refers to a duration of use beyond a few days or weeks.
NSAIDs are over the counter or prescription medications that reduce inflammation and pain. Currently, this is the most prescribed category of drugs for back pain. Examples include ibuprofen, naproxen, and aspirin. They can be effective in relieving low back pain, but long-term use (greater than 2 weeks) can increase the risk of adverse side effects such as stomach ulcers and bleeding.
Acetaminophen is an over-the-counter pain reliever that is often used to treat low back pain. It is not an anti-inflammatory medication, but it can be effective in relieving mild to moderate pain. Prolonged use of this type of drug can lead to liver damage.
Opioids are prescription pain relievers that work by binding to receptors in the brain and blocking pain signals. They are typically only used for severe pain and are associated with a high risk of dependence and addiction.
Muscle relaxants such as Cyclobenzaprine (Flexeril) and Methocarbamol (Robaxin) are prescription medications that help to relieve muscle spasms and tension. Muscle relaxants can cause drowsiness and other side effects, so it's important to follow your doctor's instructions and avoid driving or operating heavy machinery while taking these medications. Additionally, muscle relaxants are not recommended for long-term use and should only be used for short periods of time under a doctor's supervision.
It should be noted that these drugs are designed only to treat symptoms like muscle spasms or low back inflammation and pain. Unlike Chiropractic Care they do not treat the root cause of low back pain.
There are several things a person can do at home to relieve low back pain. Here are some of them:
Here are some general guidelines for sleeping positions:
In addition to these sleeping positions, it's also important to use a supportive mattress and pillow that keep your spine in a neutral position. It's also important to avoid sleeping on a mattress that is too soft or too firm, as this can cause back pain and discomfort.
If your low back pain persists or is severe, it's important to seek medical attention from a healthcare provider.
Red flag symptoms are warning signs that indicate a potentially serious underlying condition that may require prompt medical attention. The following are considered red flags for neck pain:
These conditions require prompt medical attention to prevent serious complications.
Yes, research shows that chiropractic treatment is a safe, effective, and natural way of treating neck pain. It is important to choose a licensed and experienced chiropractor to ensure the best possible results.
The length of treatment will vary depending on the cause and severity of your back pain as well as your overall health. On average, most people experience significant improvement after just a few visits.
The number of visits required will vary depending on the severity of your back pain and your overall health. Dr. Zapf will work with you to develop a treatment plan that's tailored to your specific needs.
Most insurance plans cover chiropractic care for back pain. Be sure to check with your insurance provider to determine the specifics of your coverage.
Our Chiropractic Care offers a drug-free alternative for managing low back pain. It is very safe, effective, and tailored to your individual needs. If you're looking for an alternative to drugs and surgery for your low back pain, our chiropractic care might be the solution for you.
Call Dr. Robert J. Zapf for an appointment (703) 455-9555
AMAZING. Went in with a herniated disc and other MDs telling me to have surgery; Dr. Z and his staff fixed me up and I feel leaps and bounds better than I did when I began treatment. It is crucial that you stick with the treatment plan and attend regularly, and push through the "rough" patches. I cannot give them a higher recommendation - I will never go see anyone else. Try them out, give it your all, expect wonderful changes when you're done.
"I initially was treated by Dr. Zapf in 2013 for my lower back pain and several years later for knee pain. Since my recovery and continued maintenance treatments it has been a learning experience for me. Dr. Zapf, is not only my chiropractor but has been a teacher to me. Besides his treatments, Dr. Zapf has also taken time to educate me on how to care for my body, both thru diet and exercise, in order to stay active. Working on my daily stretches, exercises, and going for my monthly maintenance treatment has kept me active with a healthy mind. The key ingredient is to follow the treatments and prescribed exercises because it’s also up to you to help you heal. Working with Dr. Zapf, and following all of the treatments and care he has provided to me as a 69 yr. old woman, I now feel 20 years younger. I am sharing my experience because physically I feel good without having to rely on over-the-counter meds. I found Dr. Zapf to be the best medicine for me." January 19, 2023
Weekly, I am thankful that I trusted my body and gave it time to HEAL and avoid unnecessary surgeries. It takes time to heal the spine, but it's a whole unit that requires our care and respect - my lifestyle was forever altered and I still do exercises and stretches that I learned through Dr. Zapf, which ensures that my spine is cared, years after being symptom free.
Love Dr.Zapf. He diagnose me before I had my MRI -the results matched. When Dr. Zapf, said you do not need meds to heal your herniated disc, that was music to my ears. When I had my first session with him, the next day NO PAIN FELT LIKE IT NEVER HAPPENED.I said he has miracle hands. I followed his program and exercise and now I am fully healed . I visit Dr.Zapf, once a month for tune-ups. If I need to see him before my schedule time he is there to assist me. His staff is not only professional but easy to speak to and so helpful. I enjoy the office visit it is so ZEN..If you have any back problems he is the DOCTOR TO SEE....I rate DR.ZAPF,a 10...
I feel that I am now close to my pre-injury strength and mobility and I am glad that I didn’t give up on the non medication treatment. Thru this process I learned 4 things from Dr. Zapf: 1) Follow the therapy; 2) Be patient; 3) listen to your body, and 4) trust. I highly recommend Dr. Zapf. On a scale of 1-10 I would give Dr. Zapf a 10. By following his recommendations my condition has improved such that I have been able to resume my activities.
With Dr. Zapf’s therapy and his guidance on stretching and strength training my condition has improved such that I have been able to resume my running and bike riding. If you are experiencing issues with your back I recommend you give Dr. Zapf a call because you have nothing to lose but the pain.
My husband has been going to Dr. Robert Zapf for thirty years, and that tells a lot. He's a very good chiropractor.
He has got a great patient to doctor relationship. He doesn't push medication or surgeries and wants you to use exercise to get you better. He has special medical machinery to manipulate the back. I slipped a disk a couple of weeks ago and so I had to walk with a cane to walk and after 2 weeks of going to him I didn't have to use the cane any longer. His wife is a Nurse assistant and handles all the daily work, appointments, etc. and he also has a college student that assists that is studying physical therapy.
It's been 5 years with Dr Zapf! He's great and very friendly!