Low Back Pain: Are You Addressing The Symptoms Or The Cause?
Roughly 85% of the population suffers from low back pain. How you deal with it depends on if you are addressing the symptoms or the cause. Let me see if I can explain it another way:
Let’s say you are enjoying your brand new car, but after a couple months of driving you notice that the car isn’t steering quite right and the tires are beginning to wear. What to do? Option one: changing the tires, but will that solve the problem? It will only be a matter of when, not if, the tires wear out again. Option two, correct the alignment. Ah ha – now you have addressed the cause instead of addressing the symptom.
Like the car in this analogy you have choices of how to address problems with your back. You can treat the symptoms which could mean medications, injections, ultrasound, electrical stimulation, etc. But did this correct the problem?
Again, you have only treated the symptoms, not the cause. When your back gets painful, you are being warned that something isn’t right. Your back is starting to break down. Understand that it just doesn’t happen due to one event. Your back has been breaking down for some time. I often hear “But I didn’t do anything different, I just bent over and picked up a Kleenex and my back went out.” Really? All of a sudden this is too much of a load for your back? NO. Your back has been slowly breaking down for months, even years, and when it hits it’s breaking point it is going to break down no matter how big or little the load.
Okay, but what are possible causes of your back breaking down? One of the biggest problems facing low backs today is too much flexing of the spine. This can be in the form of rounding of the back, bending forward statically, being in the same position too long, sitting for long periods (the biggest culprit), lifting improperly, stooping, getting up/down from seated postures, leaning over the sink, the list goes on. Spines are designed to be stable; the back should not move but rather be locked down. What should move then? Well the shoulder is the most mobile joint in the body, the hip being the second most mobile. These joints are designed for movement along with the elbows, knees, wrists,hands, feet and ankles. Dr Stuart McGikk said: “The back is not like any other joint or area of the body. It follows different rules – learn the rules and you will rule the back.” Very well said.
A few common myths about the back:
- The back needs to be strengthened. No, the back is an endurance set of muscles. Trim it for endurance.
- Sit ups help the back. No, sit ups put excessive loads in the spine.
- I need to stetch the back. No. Too much flexing the back or rounding motions breaks it down. It has to remain stable.
- Tight hamstrings causes back pain. Never been proven.
The biggest predictor of low back pain is a prior history of low back pain. Thus prevention and maintenance programs are critical. Healing means getting rid of the pain. Knowing the cause and eliminating it means implementing prevention and maintenance programs for your back. This is where we come in. At FYZICAL, we have many programs that identify the cause, which will allow us to put together exercises that will get you on the right track for maintenance and prevention – all under the watchful eyes of professionals. Once we find the cause and correct that, this will allow your back to heal. Contact us to learn more.
You’re on your own with your car though.