The latest research demonstrates that most low-back pain is not caused by the conditions doctors usually blame – Surgery is rarely called for – And the solution might be easier than you think…
What would you say is the worst thing about your back pain? The physical pain itself? – Or the way it disrupts your life, causing you to struggle with or lose pleasure in the things you love to do? Perhaps both are equally challenging.
The point is, that if you are experiencing back pain, you are probably not living life to it’s fullest. Your job performance may also be suffering and simple tasks like putting on a pair of shoes, driving a car and prolonged sitting or standing may have become very difficult.
Have you been forced to limit, or even give up some of your favorite leisure activities?… Running?… Golf?… Working out at the gym?… Traveling?… Giving your kids piggyback rides?
Are you fed up with treatments, pills, and so-called “solutions” that don’t work, or which make things even worse?… Or feeling so skeptical, with all the conflicting information and so-called expert opinions floating around out there, that you haven’t done anything at all about your back pain yet?
If any of your replies are yes, this article is for you. It will help you to answer, in a common sense sort of way, a very frustrating question:
What Causes Low-Back Pain, And What Can I Do About It?
There is a lot of confusion among health care providers as to what the best treatment is for low-back pain, and a great deal of disagreement about what the actual causes are. Depending on which specialist you ask, you may hear any of the following:
Herniated or bulging discs: The favorite of Neurosurgeons. (Who are twice as likely as other doctors to order tests to search for these abnormalities.
Arthritis: Rheumatologists (Twice as likely to order lab tests to look for arthritic conditions.)
Pinched nerves, misaligned vertebrae: Chiropractors (Who nearly always take x-rays to search for these problems.)
These doctors and other specialists, also claim a host of other conditions are the usual causes of low-back pain, including: Spinal instability, facet joint syndrome, spinal stenosis, sacroiliac syndrome, spondyolisthesis, etc, etc…
But are these conditions really at the root of most back pain sufferer’s problems? A new wave of medical researchers strongly disagree, and are actually claiming just the opposite…
What Your Doctor Will Probably Not Tell You:
A few bold medical researchers are bringing new evidence to light that threatens the sacred cows of back pain theory. Long-held beliefs are being challenged, especially that most chronic low-back pain is caused by serious structural disorders that require surgery.
“The rate of back surgery in the United States has continued to increase, and is about 5 times that of other developed countries. In spite of the increasing surgical rates, there has been no evidence of a corresponding decrease in the rates of disability due to low back problems.” (Taylor, 1994; Cherkin, 1994)
“Less than 5% of back pain is caused by anatomical problems that require surgery.” (Deyo, 1992)
“Most herniated discs resolve without surgery and have been found to be surprisingly common even in asymptomatic (symptom free) adults.” (Wiesel, 1984; Boden, 1990)
“Some patients might have degenerative changes found on imaging studies (X-rays, MRIs, CAT scans, etc.), but such changes are common even in asymptomatic (symptom free) adults and are therefore of questionable diagnostic value.” (Turner, 1992)
The Four Biggest Myths About Chronic Low-Back Pain
1. High-tech imaging tests like MRIs and CAT scans can always identify the cause of pain. Several recent studies, including one appearing in the July 1994 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, have shown that MRIs can signal a lot of false alarms. This particular study revealed that many people have signs of back injury in MRI tests, even though they are not in any pain. (Surgery is often recommended on the basis of these tests alone.)
2. Everyone who has back pain should at least have their spine X-rayed. Once again, multiple studies have concluded that a large percentage of the population will test positive for “surgically correctable” injuries or spinal abnormalities—even though they are in no pain what so ever.
3. If a herniated (slipped) or bulging disk is found, it’s obviously the reason why you are in pain, so you must have surgery. Herniated disks are one of the most common conditions blamed for low-back pain, (and routinely operated on) Yet again, multiple studies by top-notch medical researchers have revealed that as much as HALF the population is currently walking around pain free in spite of bulging or herniated disks.
4. Back pain is mostly caused by injuries or heavy lifting. Most of the time back pain “just seems to happen.” Most sufferers cannot recall a specific event that brought on their pain.What is to blame then, if severe injuries, herniated disks and other serious structural disorders are not the main causes of low-back pain?…
What is to blame then, if severe injuries, herniated disks and other serious structural disorders are not the main causes of low-back pain?…
More Than 90% Of All Chronic Low-back Pain Is Muscular In Nature
This was the result of a recent study of 10,000 chronic low-back pain sufferers, a joint effort by the Washington Schools of Medicine, John Hopkins University, and the Seattle Veterans Hospital. (10,000 people—an entire town’s worth.)
The 23-member panel of Doctors and scientists concluded that more than 90 percent of all chronic low-back pain is of soft tissue origin. (Soft tissue includes muscles, tendons, ligaments, and a few other tissues, but you can think of it as basically muscle.)
Tight and injured muscles causing pain—It may sound almost too simple. Why, if the vast majority of low-back pain sufferers have a simple muscular injury or imbalance, isn’t this obvious to most doctors? Neurosurgeons…Rheumatologists… Neurologists…Internists… MDs…
Will any of these doctors make a point of checking for possible muscular problems when testing or examining you? Most, sadly, will not.
One reason is probably that muscular injuries and imbalances are not so simple when it comes to detecting them. They are difficult to palpate and don’t show up well, if at all, on X-rays and MRIs.
They can, however, cause a bewildering array of symptoms, from a mild ache that comes and goes, to constant, severe, disabling pain. Even microscopic muscle tears can cause terrible pain.
The unfortunate fact is, that even now in the year 2010, despite all our medical advances…
Soft Tissue Injuries And Muscular Problems Are Very Often Poorly Diagnosed And Inadequately Treated
The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons actually admitted this amongst themselves in 1987, while examining orthopedic medicine’s limitations in treating soft tissue injuries.
(“The Mechanisms of Injury and Repair of Musculoskeletal Soft Tissue” 1987 symposium; American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons)
Unfortunately, even if your doctor does suspect a muscular problem as the cause of your pain, you will be very lucky to get anything more than a prescription for painkillers, muscle relaxants, or anti-inflammatories from them.
What about physical therapy? Isn’t that the best thing for muscular problems and injuries? In some cases yes.
But when it comes to chronic back pain, the general belief in physical therapy is seriously outdated. It’s a 1930’s concept that weakness or instability of the spine causes pain, and that the muscles that support the spine need to be strengthened. (Still very popular though.)
“The spine is not a flimsy reed easily broken.” (John Sarno, Ph.D.)
Are Pain-Fighting Drugs Doing You More Harm Than Good?
The truth about painkillers and anti-inflammatories can be summed up in one very simple statement, which the pharmaceutical companies don’t ever want you to consider: Drugs do not heal.
Taking pain relief or inflammation-fighting drugs only suppress your symptoms; they mask the problem. Like cutting the wire that goes to the engine warning light in your car; you don’t see the light on any more, but your engine is still in danger of breaking down!
Drugs actually SLOW the healing process by interfering with the body’s natural responses, inhibiting circulation to the injured area, and taxing your liver and kidneys. (Not to mention the serious gastro-intestinal side effects anti-inflammatories are notorious for.)
Amazingly, these and other drugs are routinely prescribed as if they do actually help your muscles heal!
An Alternative To Drugs, Surgery And Ineffective Therapies
If conventional medicine is letting you down and you’re fed up with being treated like a malfunctioning machine by a cold, impersonal system, here’s an alternative…
An alternative to the harmful chemicals, pointless ultrasound and electrodes zapping you while you lay there on a cold vinyl slab
Take a look at a completely hands-on muscular therapy approach: Overview of the Neuromuscular Therapies
And some of the many success stories of those who were once in a lot of pain like you are: Treatment Success Stories