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September 09, 2020 5 min read

Back Pain is AN Epidemic

a woman experiencing back pain in the park

... And You Are Not Alone

Almost our entire population (+90%) have experienced back or neck pain severe enough to seek professional help.

Most pain is NOT from ONE traumatic event. Rather, it is an accumulation of many minor injuries, over a long period of time, coupled with poor postural habits (like slouching).

Finally a tipping point is reached and pain is the result.

Some activities such as repetitive bending and lifting as with gardening, a more intense workout, longer than normal drive times, can and often do cause temporary back pain.

But, if back pain comes out of nowhere, or won't go away, you need to pay attention.

Sometimes back pain is a symptom of another problem such as kidney disease, urinary track infection, or even cancer. But, these are unusual and not normally found in the vast majority of back pain sufferers.

This blog explains what is going on and how you can manage the problem. Additionally, what to look out for and when to see a doctor.

 

man holding his back thats in pain in the office

10 REAL LIFE SCENARIOS THAT START BACK PAIN ISSUES

  • You injured your knee, it took weeks to heal. You favored the leg. The knee mended but back pain started.  
  • You slipped and fell, landing on your butt. You were okay but days later your back started to hurt.
  • You were in a fender bender. You were fine. Several weeks/ months later your neck and upper back start giving you problems.
  • You work out at the gym and sometimes lift heavy. Out of nowhere your back starts hurting.
  • You have mild scoliosis. It wasn't a problem but now you have frequent bouts of back pain.
  • You had a baby a year ago. Now your upper back and neck are tense and painful. You experience frequent headaches.
  • You gained 20, 30, 40 pounds over the years. Now you have constant back pain.
  • Your job requires overhead OR repeated bending and lifting. It never hurt. Now your pain is consistent.
  • You played high school sports. And took your hits. Now back pain is your biggest problem.
  • Your job requires sitting for hours at the computer. You are constantly bothered by back and neck discomfort.


SIX COMMON DIAGNOSES FOR SPINE PAIN

HERNIATED DISCS - Sometimes called 'slipped' or, 'ruptured'. Discs are cushions between each vertebra. When the discs break out of their normal shape and they become 'herniated'. Bulging discs are not yet herniations.

CHRONIC STRAIN OR SPRAIN - Affecting the ligaments of the spine and supporting muscles. Not all sprains or strains heal and become chronic.

ARTHRITIS - The most common type is osteoarthritis. It happens anywhere two bones become too close and erosion of the joint occurs. Osteoarthritis is not always age related. Also called degenerative joint disease (DJD)

WEIGHT GAIN - Whether it is pregnancy or a slower weight gain, your body resets it's center of gravity, often resulting in back pain.

SPINAL STENOSIS - This is where the spinal canal, that encases the spinal cord, narrows. It puts pressure on the cord and nerves coming from the cord. Walking can be difficult.

SPONDYLOLISTHESIS - This is when one vertebra slips forward and is out of place. It usually occurs in the lumbar spine.


REGARDLESS OF YOUR CONDITION YOU CAN IMPROVE YOUR BACK PAIN


Back/Neck pain involves the spine, discs, nerves, ligaments and muscles. These are exactly the same body parts needed to create movement. Walking, rolling over in bed, washing your hair in the shower, etc.

If one area is not functioning correctly, other areas of the spine take over. This creates an imbalance and each time the spine is slightly more stressed than normal, a pain cycle begins.

Spinal imbalances develop into disc bulges, herniations, sciatica, radiculopathy, arthritis, etc.

Because the body is dynamic, and 3-D, the spine must be fully functional and balanced in rotation, flexion, extension, lateral flexion.  

If the spine is crooked, stooped or rotated, it is impossible to function correctly. Some parts of the spine don't move while other areas carry most of the load and become over burdened.

Eventually bones, discs, joints, ligaments and nerves erode. The pain threshold has been met.  

Sometimes back pain can be a result of another injury like a knee or hip. Taking the weight off one area loads it somewhere else. Most of the time it goes to the spine. You have become crooked!


We get used to pain. It's our normal.

Every 1" your head is too far forward an extra 10 pounds is loaded on your neck.

Slouching posture can affect everyone.

Imagine a vertical plumb from mid ear to mid ankle. In between: mid shoulder, mid hip, mid knee to the ankle. All these should line up for good posture.

These photos show their 'normal' posture and where their posture should be. (Look closely for vertical red line).

All these people are under 20. For more results click here

Slouching and crooked increases with age. As do the number of back and neck complaints.

There is a point when specific bones change shape to accommodate the unbalanced load. These changes are are permanent. The more sedentary you are, the faster the rate of change.

This spinal imbalance, along with past minor injuries, create many different back problems such as those listed above.

As we age we tend to round forward. It's like the body is caving in on itself.



man holding his back thats in pain after a run in the forrest

HOW TO SOLVE BACK PAIN


THE FIRST GOAL

Re-Align your spine. This may sound hard to do, but simple steps can get you on your way. Here is a quick read on how to start. It takes less than 5 minutes, everyday, and you will see the difference in your posture, both standing and sitting.

THE SECOND GOAL

Increase spinal flexibility. In a nutshell, STRETCH! If you are so inclined, yoga is an excellent way to increase your spinal flexibility. This needn't take hours a day, there are plenty of 15 minute easy yoga videos available on YouTube.

THE THIRD GOAL

Increase spinal muscle tone. The most basic way to start is by mindfully holding good posture. You may only to do it for a minute or two at first but as the muscles get stronger you can hold good posture for longer periods. Every time you think of it, stand up or sit up tall - no slouching! HINT: Butt muscles stabilize the low back. Mid back muscles, particularly the lats and the lower traps, stabilize the neck.



When your spine is strong and stable your entire body benefits. 


WHEN TO SEE A DOCTOR

To rule out any medical condition notice changes including the following:

  • any changes in bowel or bladder function
  • fever/night sweats
  • extreme fatigue
  • pain going down both legs or both arms
  • numbness and tingling in both legs or both arms
  • blurry vision, dizziness or fainting
  • pain lasting more than 3 months and getting worse

BUYER BEWARE

There are dozens of products claiming to prevent or relieve back pain. There is no direct evidence that back supports, back braces, posture correcting shoulder harnesses, specially designed furniture, or seat cushions can help.

Also, there does not appear that one type of mattress is better than another. Choose the one most comfortable.

Ask for a second opinion if a spinal injection or surgery is suggested.

Be wary of narcotics for pain. Most are addictive. Many over-the-counter pain medication is fine for intermittent use. Read the directions.  


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