Back pain – Is my doctor guessing?

back pain blog post

They say that laughter is the best medicine, research shows that a spell of laughter can help relieve pain. It increases Blood flow, boosts the metabolism and stimulates the release of endorphins, the body’s natural painkiller.

They say that laughter is the best medicine, research shows that a spell of laughter can help relieve pain. It increases Blood flow, boosts the metabolism and stimulates the release of endorphins, the body’s natural painkiller.

However Back Pain is not a laughing matter and by understanding more about your Back Pain, you can work together with your practitioner to find ways you can best treat it or at the very least get it under control. The vast majority of skeletal muscular pain is felt in the joints or the point where a muscle attaches to the bone. With the back for example, it is the lower joints that seem to be much more susceptible to pain than the ones higher up, although the upper back is by no means excluded.

The joints are the one place where an imbalance can manifest because they can be tilted or twisted. What happens to the nerve, ligament or disc as a result of that joint moving is the pain you normally feel. What I have learnt is that there are usually only one or two main groups of muscles, setting up the imbalances and causing the joint to move or the pressure to build up on a muscle making it stiff or tight and painful to move.

If the muscles that set up this twist (usually structural muscles) are worked on correctly, the pressure that causes the twist, tilt or tightness is released, along with the pain. Using a “hands on” form of bodywork is the most effective way of identifying and correcting these problem muscles but finding someone who can do a good job quickly and effectively, and without it costing to much can be the most difficult part. When a back develops problems it is not normally something that has just happened but rather a build up of imbalances over time. It tends to involve the whole body in some way and therefore requires a holistic approach to get a lasting cure.

In my opinion there are not enough skilled hands on therapists these days that can recognise the problem muscles, and then know how to restore their length and function and put the body back into balance again as is required. Too many therapists want to use machines or stretching and exercise to fix back pain and these methods are flawed in many ways.

Lets be honest, if all current treatments worked I wouldn’t need to be writing this book as people would get over their problems just as quickly as they came along. Without using the hands on approach and the fact that most causes of back pain don’t show up on x-rays or scans. Physicians and therapists are guessing as to what the problem may be the majority of the time.

Unless they are skilled at working on the body using their hands they can’t monitor progress or feel compensations that need to be removed, but just as importantly they can’t recognise when the problem does not involve the muscles and may require a totally different approach. Any specialist in Back related disorders could never have learnt what they have, without putting hands on the body.

Due to the repetitive nature of bodywork and the fact that the basic anatomy of the body never changes, one is constantly learning how every different type of body feels, strong, healthy, weak, stressed, young or old. Any therapist who doesn’t get their hands on the body regularly such as a doctor, chiropractor, physiotherapist or acupuncturist, is severely handicapped right from the start when it comes to treating back pain. There is no way, without the vital information you can get from the feel of the body, they would be able to devise the best way of approaching an individuals particular back problem. Why? Because the critical information they are missing can dramatically change the treatment regime from one person to the next.

Assessing Your Pain

Faced with a patient in chronic pain the Physician has several important tasks. The first is obviously the assessment of the pain and its various causes, including physical and psychological components. Realising that pain is a bio-psycho-social phenomenon, (biological, psychological, and social) all of these aspects have to be addressed in the history and evaluation of the patient.

What Causes The Pain?

Back pain is a symptom not a diagnosis. In most cases, the exact cause of the problem is never tracked down. Causes of simple back pain include poor posture, lifting and carrying, lack of fitness, sleeping on soft mattresses, standing for long periods, sitting in chairs that lack back support, and repetitive jobs.

Twisting or lifting improperly can cause tears in the ligaments that support the spine. Pregnancy is a common trigger for back pain, due to softening of the ligaments and changes in posture due to the growing “little person”. Other common causes of back pain include but are not limited type of arthritis caused by degenerative changes in the spine that come with age.


Burning, stabbing pain that can go down the leg as far as the foot. It’s usually caused by a protruding disc squeezing the sciatic nerve. Sciatica is discussed in more detail later in this book.

Herniated disc:

Pain caused when disc material bulges and puts pressure on a nerve. Most protruding or bulging discs occur in the lumbar region, and in severe cases can lead to permanent nerve damage, and rarely, loss of bowel or bladder control.

What Can I Do?

It is estimated that only one in seven cases of back pain are seen by a doctor, with most pain

disappearing, or being treated with self-medication or other therapies. It is a good idea to see a doctor if there is numbness or tingling, or if the pain is severe and doesn’t improve with medication and rest, or if the pain starts after an injury. It’s important to seek medical help when there is also trouble urinating.

What About Physical Therapy?

For many people, getting joints moving properly again with physical therapy is a must, as it does help. Chiropractic Doctors are trained to diagnose problems in the joints and soft tissues of the body, and will carry out a comprehensive assessment and treatment plan. Chiropractic provides a wide range of treatments to relieve pain, promote relaxation and restore movement. Chiropractic manipulation involves the adjustments of the spine, as well as other joints and muscles.

Chiropractic care is generally safe, but it’s not appropriate for everyone. However a Chiropractor is experienced enough and skilled enough to make individual assessments on treatment suitability.

If you are interested in this topic and you want to know more then you might want to read the book that got us inspired which is Terry O’Brien’s Where Does it Hurt? 

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2 Responses

  1. My relative had an accident which affects her spine, she would always cry unable to sleep with the amount of pain she is in, when she was introduced to a Chiropractor he insisted on her getting an x-ray done and she realised that she had a shifted disk which was not identified when she met in the accident. She is now going to Physical Therapy and it shows improvement even with her sleeping pattern and pain medication intake.

    1. I have been plagued with chronic back pain for year and my doctor kept changing my pain medication in hopes of “getting rid of it”. after 3 years unable to take the pain anymore I decided to join a local yoga and Chiropractic group therapy. I am happy to say I am relived of the pain and the guessing game with the practioner.

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