It can be one of the most frustrating feelings to seek ongoing treatment for back pain, only to find that after much time and effort, you still have back pain. In my years of practice, I have seen many people come in after treatments with other doctors that yielded no results. Here are five of the most common reasons that your back pain treatments might be failing.
Viscerosomatic reactions are essential to understanding how the body is interconnected. Viscero means organ, and somatic refers to the body or muscular system. A viscerosomatic reaction happens when a pain signal from an organ enters the spinal cord where interconnecting neurons relating to peripheral motor (muscles, blood vessels, skin) structures also reside. What this means is that both the muscular system and your organs are linked. Simple examples of this are the Heimlich maneuver and CPR chest compressions because these life-saving techniques physically impact the body or soma.
The quadratus lumborum muscle, known as the QL, is an important lower back muscle that connects your spine to your pelvis. Pain in the QL can be due to overuse, stress, and strain because muscles cause pain and stiffness when they're weak or too tight. Activities such as sitting for long periods of time can reduce blood flow to an area, especially in the QL and surrounding areas.
Everyone has healthy bacteria in their gut, but it can become out of balance, with the "bad" bacteria taking over. Things like stress, illness, and antibiotics can disrupt the levels of good bacteria. The bacterial balance (called your microbiome) in our intestines is a pivotal factor in our wellness. Our guts are responsible for producing most serotonin, a primary feel-good chemical needed for emotional wellbeing. The link between wellness and our intestines is irrefutable for physical and emotional health.
I often get bewildered looks when a patient complains of lower back pain, and I start to examine their neck, shoulders, and feet. The patient thinks that since they are suffering from lower back pain, the problem lies in their lower back. However, more often than not, this is not the case.
I like to use the analogy of the lights going out. There could be a localized problem within the lightbulb itself, but it’s more likely that you blew a circuit breaker. Think of an electrical problem that overrode the system and caused power outages in multiple areas. Back pain is just like a circuit breaker. Most people aren’t experiencing pain in just one specific area, like a lightbulb, but are likely having pain in multiple areas, like a circuit breaker.
A cause of the “circuit breaker of back pain” could be stress, poor posture, or digestive upset. If you don’t fix the underlying circuit breaker issue, you will constantly be replacing the bulbs. I have three guided resources to help determine what could be causing your back pain. Click here to take my structural assessment, here to take my emotional assessment, and here to take my digestive assessment.
Eastern cultures that created acupuncture views the body as having energy sources. This is an approach that I certainly subscribe to! This shift in approach can really make a difference in understanding your back pain's causes and solutions.
Are you suffering from back pain? The cause could be your love of spicy foods. There is much debate regarding whether spicy foods are helpful or harmful, and the consensus is that it’s a bit of both. Many of my patients are shocked to hear that their back pain could be from spicy food. As you may know from my previous post, Is Your Diet Causing Your Back Pain, there is a direct link between digestive function and back pain. I even wrote an entire book on the subject called The Back Pain Relief Diet.
Many people love carbonated beverages. The consensus is that soda is a bad thing, and many people have opted for healthier options, such as sparkling waters. And, alcoholic beverage companies not only sell beer, but also there is a growing trend of consumers preferring flavored alcoholic, carbonated beverages. Though flavored sparkling water may be a healthy alternative to soda, and people think flavored alcoholic beverages may be healthier than beer, these carbonated beverages can create a lot of problems for your body. As I discussed previously in Is Your Diet Causing Your Back Pain, an individual’s diet is a leading cause of back pain.
Who do you think has more back pain and worse posture: The farmer, who spends his day plowing a field and shoveling manure, or the office worker, who works at a desk for eight hours a day? The answer - most likely, the office worker.
One Saturday afternoon, I received a call from a Grammy-winning recording artist, who was suffering from severe upper back and neck pain. She was concerned that she wasn’t going to be able to make it through her performance on Saturday Night Live the following day. Her pain was so bad that she could not turn her head. I examined her and noticed that her whole muscular system was tight. I could also tell she was suffering from severe gas pains and she told me that her on-the-road diet consisted of primarily fast foods and processed foods. After further assessment, I determined the root of her back pain was an inflamed digestive system.
After working with back patients for about 20 years, I have discovered why many patients don’t achieve back pain relief or perfect posture. To fix back pain and correct your posture, I have to focus on a patient’s structural, emotional, and digestive issues to get to the truth. Unfortunately, most doctors don’t pay attention to what the rest of the body is telling them about a patient's pain. A single-approach structural treatment plan may apply if a patient is a certain type of back pain sufferer, but may not work if an individual is a different type of back pain sufferer. In today’s post, we will focus on potential structural issues that are causing your back pain and poor posture.