After suffering a knee injury, chiropractic care helped Leroy Gallagher return to work as an electrician. Seven years ago, a knee injury started a domino effect in Leroy Gallagher’s body that would leave him off work for years.
“It happened back in 2011,” recalls the 36-year-old electrician from Cambridge, Ontario. “I busted up my knee and after that I ended up with severe problems in my back and my neck. I’d been doing construction for a long time, but I wasn’t able to work.”

It was a dark time for Leroy, who says being out of work “puts a strain on your relationships and you sort of lose your purpose.”

It wasn’t a choice for him to stop working, but his body just couldn’t continue with the back and neck pain he was in and the strain his labour intensive job involved.

“I just couldn’t do it, I couldn’t work,” adds Leroy.

In fact, low back and neck pain are the leading causes of disability in Canada, according to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. And according to researchers at Université du Québec, back pain is also the main reason patients younger than 60 years of age visit a physician in Canada.

While Leroy is back at work, many people are forced into unemployment due to these musculoskeletal (MSK) low-back injuries and conditions. Made up of bones, ligaments, joints and tendons, the MSK system accounts for most of the work-related lost time claims in Canada, which has significant physical, emotional and financial impacts on patients, government and employers.

But there are ways, like chiropractic care, that are proven to get people back to work faster.

“There is an incredible cost associated with these injuries,” explains Dr. Amy Brown, a chiropractor in Cambridge. “It’s not just the cost to the patient, which can be significant, but it’s the cost of maintaining people in the health care system and the cost to employers. It’s a cascade effect.”

Twice a week, Dr. Brown and her colleagues, Dr. Cameron Potter and Dr. Douglas Cameron, volunteer at Langs Community Health Centre in Cambridge. The team provides chiropractic care, free of charge, to patients who cannot afford it, many of whom are off work due to MSK issues. Our goal is “to get patients feeling better and back to work as quickly as possible,” says Dr. Brown.

“When we first started, we saw patients with a lot of other health issues going on. We were seeing some really long-term problems that hadn’t been addressed and many patients were not employed because of ongoing injuries,” she adds.

But those who seek help from chiropractors, such as Drs. Brown, Potter and Cameron, have experienced positive results, including Leroy.

“I’m back doing work as an electrician,” he says. “And not long ago, I could barely get off the floor.”

Indeed, Leroy credits his chiropractic sessions and a new love of yoga with getting him back on his feet — literally. “It really helps with my mobility and stiffness,” he adds.

For him, it was about getting back to work, and about getting his quality of life back. “When you’re not working, you can fall into the mental trap of getting down on yourself,” he recounts. “But I’m able to work and I’m able to manage.”

This story is adapted from this article: Getting back to work and back to your life, which was produced by Globe Content Studio and published as an advertising feature in The Globe and Mail.