What Everyone Should Know About Back Pain And How To Get Rid Of ItFeb 25, 2022
“My back has never been right since …..” is a common opening line from many of our lovely clients at the Hub. There is generally an accident involved in their formative years. A job that made things worse because of heavy lifting, or static postures at a desk, or in confined spaces, for hours at a time. Sometimes there is even a horror childbirth story. Add a bucket load of STRESS on top of it all and you’ve got the recipe for that ongoing, niggly, back pain that no one has ever really cured or got to the bottom of.
Back pain is the biggest cause of disability in the UK. It affects over 80% of the population, with most getting recurrent episodes. You end up stopping doing stuff you love to avoid triggering another episode. This doesn’t cure you pain; it just limits your freedom. It’s a strategy NOT a long-term solution and stops you doing the things you love in your life.
Of all the people who have back pain only 10% actively seek help and do something about it. 90% of sufferers don't do anything to help it go away, other than see their GP for painkillers. This could be because;
· they don't know what to do,
or, it could be
· they don't know that something can be done to help long term.
What do you believe?
Ultimately, there is a massive load of people suffering from back pain needlessly. That makes me feel rather sad because it is changeable. You all know about habits and how easy it is to fall into unhelpful ones. It takes effort, the right support and consistent action to create new, healthier habits. Fixing back pain requires the same approach. For most, the beliefs you have around your body and back pain, create the bad, self-limiting habits you are stuck in. These beliefs affect the choices and steps you do or don’t take, to change it and fix it.
It's easier thinking “it's my age” or “nothing can be done” because that means you don't have to actively do anything to change your situation. Other common beliefs that limit your success in treating back pain is that your posture is bad, or you have a “weak core”. Many also believe the job you did, years ago, is still responsible for your current situation.
Your beliefs shape your thoughts and feelings. How you think and feel dictates what action you take to help yourself and therefore what the outcome or result you get. So, my biggest gift to you is to help you change your beliefs about your back pain, your body, and the options you have available to change your current situation.
So, let's start by giving you some facts; A great study was done several years ago which found over 90% of people who had NO back pain, did have changes on their scan like disc protrusions and arthritis. This is an awesome study because it proves that you can have stuff going on in your body and it doesn’t need to lead to a pain experience. All too quickly we leap to conclusions like, “because I’ve had a “slipped disc” in the past, I’m always going to have pain and
problems in my back”. But I challenge you, there are hundreds of structures in your body that could be triggering a pain experience, how do you know that the thing that is telling your brain you are sore is the disc or the arthritis? Without an injection to numb different anatomical structures, you don’t! It’s purely guess work.
Like the study has proven, just because these “problems” are shown in a scan it doesn’t mean you need to feel sore. Scans are rarely necessary to “diagnose” the cause of back pain. It can give us heaps of misinformation and an incomplete picture of what is really going on.
The Reality In Your Body
Often, the sore bit is a poor muscle that is sensitive and not able to lengthen or shorten as it should. It is telling your brain that it can’t tolerate bearing load in the way it is being asked, and therefore when it must work, it isn’t able to tolerate the load being asked of it. Because it is sensitive, it and triggers a pain response. Add into that mix a belief that this movement is a “risky” one or one that you fear doing and you can almost anticipate the problem occurring by putting your brain on high alert before you start.
Keeping things simple, when you move, some muscles need to lengthen and some need to shorten to get good movement and optimal loading. When you get back pain, the most common problem is that something isn’t lengthening or shortening under load, as it should.
Back to scans, they do the images with you lying, which isn’t commonly when people feel sore. This position often relieves back pain. Next to consider is when does pain commonly occur, well that happens when we move. Scans are a static snapshot and an incomplete picture. Hence why they are less helpful in getting to the root cause of the back pain you suffer.
Pain science is a mind-blowing field to get into but to avoid sending you to sleep, I’m going to simplify it all. You’ve got loads of ways you can move and load your body. Everything in your body needs to work together like a beautifully conducted orchestra. It’s still possible to be strong when certain muscles aren’t “playing” as they should but over time these different strategies can lead to pain because everything isn’t working together. Certain regions are getting overloaded and then sore because they are doing too much for other regions NOT doing enough.
The Long-Term Solution
Our job as a Physio is to reassure your brain and body that muscles and joints can stretch and can tolerate load. THEN, and this is the bit that CURES back pain, it’s about training you, over time to gradually increase the amount of load you can tolerate so you can do the things you want to do… AND MORE.
Massage alone isn’t going to fix your problem. Nor will the odd click and crunch during a flare up. The true, long-term solution lies in you getting stronger and more mobile in lots of muscles, moving in lots of different directions in lots of different ways. Variety really is the spice that will keep you pain free!
People often stop coming to physio or other practitioners when their pain has gone. This is a big error because at this point, your nervous system is feeling more settled, but you won’t have fully re-activated your orchestra to play to the same tune, together, at the right volume! This is what the best Physio’s can do for you. Provide you the loading progressions that will enable you to work your body as it’s meant to spreading load instead of overloading the sore bits.
My Confession & Final Wisdom
I’ve made back pain and every other pain that has entered my treatment room way too complicated in the past. I’ve made this mistake too with my own body, as I’ve searched for a cure that involves me not having to take responsibility for how I’ve used and misused it over the years. All the stress that I’ve “managed” by swallowing it down and cracking on. All the niggles with my movement I’ve ignored because I didn’t “have the time” to address when they first started. Those problems that aren’t that bad they stop me doing stuff, but they do make it harder and less enjoyable. The treatment I started but stopped once the pain went because I was too busy to prioritise it once I started to feel better. Not going back to complete my treatment plan when the niggle / problem returned as it wasn’t as bad and I didn’t have the time. The money I didn’t want to spend on myself because I felt I shouldn’t have to and because I had other seemingly bigger priorities at the time.
We all do this. We all ignore, crack on and cope. We all believe stuff that makes the action we take at the time feel like the best or only option.
My thoughts now are, much clearer and appropriate.
· There is never a right time to address the problems you are experiencing with your body, whatever they may be.
· The longer you leave it to sort out, the longer it has a negative impact on your daily life and limits what you can do.
· Everyone needs a “service plan”, like we do with our cars. An MOT tells you what needs doing, the plan fixes the problems. As you get older you all need a service plan to keep functioning and operating as well as you can.
· Self-care isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity. Prioritising other things and people over yourself will bite you on the arse eventually.
· There are always options to change your current situation. It all starts with changing your beliefs about your body and life.
· Everyone is so unique that you can’t have a one size fits all to healthcare and addressing pains and problems you have in your body. It needs to be largely individualised.
· You need to keep it up and progress your movement and strength, this will keep you pain-free and moving well as you age
· Variety is crucial, you need to maintain and progress your movement and strength in lots of ways and directions
· The best investment you can make in your long-term health and wellbeing is to get and stay fit, mobile and strong.
· Time each day or at least 3 times a week needs to be dedicated to maintaining your body….and your beautiful mind.
If you’d like to ready my FREE report on How to Eliminate Back Pain & Stay Pain Free, click on this link or head to our website. Alternatively, you can email or call us on, [email protected], 01548 852355, and we will send it over. Let’s spread the word it is changeable and fixable!
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