Bones, joints, and muscles
Three common back pain questions answered
Millions of people struggle with back pain and fail to get lasting relief. The
primary reason is a lack of knowledge and understanding of back pain.
In working with more than 20,000 back pain sufferers, we at the Healthy Back
Institute have identified several questions that are common among nearly all
patients. Unfortunately, many of these people continue to struggle with back
pain because their questions never get answered or because they get the wrong
Here are some common questions I hear from patients.
Is my excess weight causing my back pain?
While excess body weight is a factor, it by itself typically isn't enough to
create a condition that would cause back pain. Excess body weight in the form of
excess body fat can worsen a pre-existing condition and can also make recovery
Also, it's important to understand that if you are overweight, it's very
likely that your muscles are out of balance. When your muscles are out of balance,
it forces your body to function and move in an unbalanced way; this places uneven
pressure, strain, and wear and tear on your body. It's this process that is
responsible for creating any conditions or physical dysfunctions that are
causing the pain. Unfortunately, most people aren't even aware that this is
happening with their bodies.
Action to take
First, focus on eliminating your back pain by identifying the muscle imbalances
that are throwing your body out of balance and work on improving and correcting
them by talking to a physician who specializes in back pain treatment. Then, once
your back is feeling better, you can focus more on losing weight.
I've tried everything but nothing has worked, what should I do?
First off, while it may seem like you've exhausted every possible treatment,
it's not likely that you've tried everything. Unless you've given up and plan on
living the rest of your life in pain, you need to make the decision to be open-minded
and to continue to identify and experiment with other available treatment options.
However, before you try any other treatments, it's important that you understand
why what you've already tried hasn't worked.
The reason nearly all back pain treatments fail to deliver long-term
relief is because they treat just the symptoms and fail to address
the actual, underlying cause. For example, let's talk about back
surgery. While removal of a piece of a herniated disc may, if
you're lucky, reduce or eliminate your pain, the fact is that
it didn't deal with what caused the disc to herniate in the first
In fact, a study published in the June 2004 issue of Spine, an international
journal for the study of the spine, found that 40 percent of people who underwent
back surgery had no decrease in their pain even though their doctor/surgeon had
assured them of the results.
For you to get long-term, lasting relief, you need to identify and address the
underlying cause of your pain.
Action to take
Identify the underlying cause of your pain by identifying the muscle imbalances
that are creating your physical dysfunctions and conditions. Make sure any treatment
you are prescribed or that you perform addresses both the symptoms (condition and
pain) and the cause (muscle imbalances and dysfunctions).
My doctor says not to exercise, what should I do?
Find a new doctor. Too many research studies have shown that people with back
pain who avoid exercise and activity end up suffering longer and have a more
difficult time finding relief.
While you may need to rest for a few days initially to let things settle down,
after that, you will get better results by staying active because by continuing to
move, you keep your blood circulating and your muscles active, thereby preventing
them from getting weaker (atrophy).
But that's not enough.
Even though staying active may help, it's not enough to get rid of the underlying
cause of the pain. In order to do that, you must identify and address your muscle
imbalances and dysfunctions.
The generic exercises that almost every back pain sufferer is prescribed by their
healthcare professional may or may not help; they can even worsen the patient's
condition. The reason is that these exercises do not address the specific muscle
imbalances and dysfunctions responsible for the pain.
Action to take
If your doctor or healthcare professional hasn't taken the time to educate you
about the effects of muscle imbalances and about the importance of performing
targeted and specific, corrective exercises and stretches, it's time to look
Unfortunately, the number of healthcare professionals who are educated and
trained in the art of identifying and addressing muscle imbalances is small; finding
one knowledgeable in this area can often be difficult.
If you're a back pain sufferer, you know that these are just a few of the
many questions you may have. The fastest way for you to get lasting relief from
back pain is to become an expert on it and on your body; you can do that by
I strongly encourage you to learn as much as you can about back pain, how it
develops, and the various treatment options available. Lastly, stay focused and
don't give up looking for permanent relief.
About the Author:
Steve Hefferon, CMT, is co-founder of The Healthy Back Institute. For many free
resources visit them online at www.losethebackpain.com. To find a healthcare professional near
you, contact the Healthy Back Institute at 1-800-216-4908.