On this page I cover what I consider to be the important aspects of back pain to lots of men and women. From the causes of your pain through what is happening on the inside of your spine to the stages of recovery and how they relate to successful rehabilitation. You will find it both enlightening and refreshingly helpful.
Back and joint pain is without doubt one of the scourges of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. It is one of the commonest medical complaints in The Western World. It can be completely disabling and thoroughly depressing. It affects millions of us and yet appears to have no exact and definite scientific cure. Amazing when you consider that we can put people on the moon.
What’s the knock on effects? Several, from mild to serious and severe back pain, swelling, tenderness as well as occasional, recurrent or persistent pain, cramps. Just ask anyone who suffers from it. You struggle to get to sleep and wake up regularly during the night. In the morning you can hardly get out of bed.You can’t bend to get dressed properly and it hurts to do the simplest things. Working is painful and often out of the question. You cannot sit or drive for any time.and exercise is simply out of the question.
A long list of life destroying patterns from one simple complaint that medical science seems to be unable to effectively solve.
Aching Back pains are not disorders which has one single cause. There are numerous possible reasons why you may have back pain. There are also differing schools of thought from the many varieties of practitioners in existence who all claim to be able to solve your problem. Chiropractors, osteopaths, manipulators, masseurs, reflexologists, herbalists, acupuncturists to name just a few without mentioning the surgeons and back pain specialists. The list goes on. Can they all be right?
Generally, in my experience, people fall into one of three categories regarding the causes of their back pain, explained as follows:
1. There has been no specific onset or particular injury. The pain just seems to have crept up and hurt you.
2. There have been numerous, relatively minor or even innocuous incidents that seem to be responsible for your pain.
3. There is a definite incident that coincides with the start of your problems.
The cause of such stresses may be:
• Postural i.e. the way you hold yourself and how you sit and stand.
• Occupational i.e. related to the activities you do at work.
• Recreational i.e. caused by your sporting or hobby activities.
One of the keys to understanding back pain is understanding a little about inflammation. This phenomenal process is nature’s way of responding to damage to the body. It is essential to maintain life. If it did not occur in a short time you would die. It is nature’s way of preventing further injury and repairing any damage that has already occurred.
Explaining it as simply as possible what happens is that around the site of the injury blood flow is increased. This causes certain type of blood cells to be forced out of the blood vessels into the damaged area to begin the healing process.
Chemicals from the injured structures cause irritation to the nerve endings in the area, which then send messages to your brain that your brain interprets as aches and pain. This is to tell you that there is something off and to encourage you to protect the damaged area so as to avoid pains. The increased blood flow, the irritated nerve endings and the start of the healing process cause the area near to be warm, swollen and painful.
It will stay like this for around two or three days. This can vary depending on the degree of trauma to the body part in question. This stage is often termed the acute stage and is essentially concerned with damage limitation and stabilization to ensure no further damage occurs.
Following on from the first two or three days the process of structural repair begins in earnest. Your body will attempt to replace and reconstruct the injured area. The length of time this takes varies with many factors. Amongst these are age, general health, any predisposing medical conditions, the amount of damage that has occurred and how the body part is treated during this time.
During the repair process damaged structures will be repaired in one of two ways. If the damage is only minor the repair will be made with the exact same type of tissue as the original. If the damage is greater then the repair will be made with what is called scar tissue. This is a tough inelastic substance the body uses to rapidly rebuild damaged areas. Damage does not have to be that great for scar tissue to be used.
Once the healing is complete the repair process stops. It is important to note though that healing can continue for many months after an injury, albeit at a very low level, even though normal functional activities have been resumed.
THE STAGES OF HEALING
The process follows a really general pattern as follows:
1. The initial acute stage lasting two or three days when there is a symptom of considerable pain, ache and movement restriction.
2. The second or sub acute stage is when the healing process progresses. This lasts for up to three weeks. By this time, if there are no broken bones, the tissues (muscle, ligaments, tendons etc.)have achieved a moderately strong state of repair.
3. This third stage is sometimes called the chronic stage. This is when the repair process has slowed right down. It does not equate with the various healing process being satisfactorily completed however.
Each of these three stages are characterized by alterations in the symptoms you suffer. There are specific ways to treat your sore back at each stage, which is a crucial point to understand and one of the keys in helping to resolve your problem.
THE STAGES OF TREATMENT, REHABILITATION, AND REMEDIES
Assessment and Diagnosis.
The first step is diagnosing what the problem is. This is done by doctors and therapists basically using two methods. The first one being what the patient says or complains of and the second being what is actually found by the practitioner from their physical examination.
Both of these are vital suppliers of information for a correct diagnosis. The sum total of all the information gleaned from both methods should build a picture of the exact problem that leads on to the diagnosis.
Sometimes it is possible to ascertain an exact diagnosis and other times it is not. Having an exact diagnosis is desirable but not absolutely essential to successful treatment.
What is important is that the existence or absence of certain conditions is ascertained so that the correct treatment and advice can be followed.
In the case of back pain it is important to be able to put the cause of the pain down to a mechanical problem affecting the back. With reference to back pain there are certain conditions that give rise to pain in the back and these must be ruled out before treatment should begin.
Before movement and activities can be normally resumed there has to be consideration of pain. This is because in the initial stages of an episode of injury the pain is there to prevent further damage occurring. It is important that this pain is respected so that further damage is not caused.
A few days of the CORRECT REST is normally sufficient to achieve this. Longer than this and there are likely to be more negative effects than positive from resting unless a specific reason is given by a qualified medical person. During this period there are treatments that can be helpful in resolving pain such as medication and electrotherapy.
The next stage is the regaining of the normal amount of movement in the back. This is the stage at which most problems occur and is normally because people are unsure of the answers to some critical questions as follows:
When to begin moving?
Which specific movements to do?
How many to do?
How often and for how long?
It is here that is so often the KEY CRITICAL POINT in the recovery process because with the CORRECT ADVICE, INSTRUCTION AND ENCOURAGEMENT regarding movement and exercise therapy most back pain can be massively improved.
If this point is missed, problems begin and little by little get bigger and more difficult to resolve until ultimately, if left long enough, which often can be just a matter of weeks, you can become a chronic back pain patient, with all its associated difficulties.
The next stage once the movement is well on the way to recovery is the re education of the muscles that control the area. Here again the skill is knowing the answers to such familiar questions as when to begin the exercises, which ones to do, how many and for how long?
You may be lucky and be able to resume your normal everyday activities without needing any specific strengthening exercises. There are however many people with low back pain who would be so much better and be more able with the CORRECT EXERCISE PRESCRIPTION. For some it would undoubtedly totally solve their problem.
Functional Activity Rehabilitation
Following the successful resolution of pain, movement and strength in the previous three stages the final stage is the culmination of all the previous ones to aid the recovery of normal activities. Here again the key is the skillful and correct advice as to how much how soon. If the previous three stages have been addressed properly this stage will follow successfully but the correct advice is still paramount in preventing reinjury.
So there we have every basic stage behind the successful resolution of mechanical low back pain such as Bilateral foraminal stenosis.Some of which affects limbs such as the legs. This can essentially be transferred to many other musculo-skeletal problems. Although in black and white it appears relatively simple it does not mean it is unskilled. It requires specific knowledge at each of the particular stages.
So when all is said and done is there a magic pill, a cure above all others or a proven way of solving this problem of ours? Well yes actually there does seem to be.
The latest research based on analysis of all the many different ways of treating and dealing with adult back pain indicates that there are definite methods of treatment that produce positive results. It dose not seem to matter what type of professional you visit whether it be an osteopath, chiropractor, physical therapist or any other therapist or healer.
What does seem to matter is that you follow some very simple guidelines that seem to produce very consistent results. These guidelines are simple to follow in your own home and will produce positive results very quickly with some care.
You can have manipulation, exercise, electrotherapy, acupuncture or any other treatment that benefits you but behind all the improvement are some very simple proven principles that you should know about.
These principles are what you need to know so that you can solve your own problem or be helped properly by the practitioner of your choice. They are there to be used alongside and complimentary to any treatment you may be getting from your health professional.
This specific formula is essentially based on simple PROVEN EXERCISES correctly prescribed for your problem. Based on the cause of your back pain you can immediately improve your condition, reduce your pain and increase your pain free movement by following a simple exercise routine in your own home that will take you a few minutes a day.
The concept is based upon where professionally reliable knowledge and know how being used in clinical practice today by thousands of therapists to help achy bone and back pain sufferers solve their problem and improve the quality of their lives.
It is a very brave statement to say that exercise is the key to improving your back and joints no matter what the problem. It is my opinion however that there are very few people with back pain that cannot be improved by the correct prescription of an exercise program that can be done in the comfort of you’re their own home. For some it is the answer and for others a part of it.
The secret is knowing the answers to the questions in the previous sections regarding which exercises must be done, in what way, how many and for how long for a specific problem. Doing blanket exercises for the back is hit and miss and is likely to cause more problems than it solves. I have been prescribing exercises professionally for over two decades and it is undoubtedly a skill to be able to do it well.
In summary what I am saying here is:
· That all the available evidence appears to point to there being a common factor in the successful resolution of back pain.
· That factor is CORRECTLY PRESCRIBED EXERCISE that can be done simply and easily in the comfort of your own home.
It is important to state that these exercises do not deny the existence of the positive effects of treatment by a knowledgeable and skillful practitioner. Just a thought though. Beware of anyone offering you treatment with no form of advice or prescription of exercises. You may wish to ask them why this is so.