Having worked with 1000's of back pain patients for the last 25 years in my Clinic, I came to realise that there are a number of common mistakes & misconceptions, when people try to find relief from their back ache.
I have compiled the 10 most common mistakes & misconceptions I came across over the years. When you read the information maybe you can relate to some of these mistakes and maybe understand where you went wrong with your approach to dealing with your aching back or sciatica.
Find below all 10 mistakes and misconceptions which may be surprising but commonly made...
#1 - Continue to have the same treatment without seeing any improvement in the condition
This is something I touched on earlier in this book… please stop seeing your chosen health professional if your back pain problem is not being resolved. This may sound harsh, but believe me you will thank me later when you do.
"Continue doing the same thing but each time expecting a different outcome is madness"
The one thing most of my patients have in common is that they often have seen a health professional for years and maybe still do. Sometimes they come to me as they may have heard about me via a friend, family member or colleague whom I have treated in my Clinic.
Having seen them getting rid of their back pain successfully they may come to see me to get another opinion, as they are fed up to still have regular back pain or they don’t get the benefits anymore from the spinal manipulations.
Initially the manipulation provides pain relief, maybe for a few months, but the pain returns again. At which stage the patient goes back and often has done so for years? The only problem is that the ‘hidden causes’ continue to worsen and cause gradually more damage to the spinal structures, hence the periods of pain relief shorten and when the pain worsens on each re-curring episode. Ouch…
This brings us to another mis-conception, which is an important one.
#2 - Are You Being manipulated?
Not treating the hidden cause…
When you see a health professional just for manipulation (which is often the case from listening to my patients) you will never get rid of your back pain. As I mentioned above manipulation can loosen the locked joint, provide instant pain relief and increases movement, but
eventually will lock again… over and over and over again!
I won’t explain the reasoning behind this here again, please re-refer to the Muscle Imbalance chapter in this book. The problem with this is that the hidden cause, which is not being dealt with, will gradually cause more and more damage to your spine over time.
This often shows as patient’s history shows that they would be able to leave 4-6 months between manipulations (when the pain returns again). But over time that period would become less, until eventually it may be only a few days or worse the manipulation does not provide pain relief at all anymore.
So please don’t be ‘manipulated’ by your health professional, telling you ‘I will book you in for 1 or 2 months time for another manipulation as by that time you will need it to stay on top’ or ‘your spine will be out of alignment again / out of place again’.
Please don’t be fooled like that, at least after reading this book you hopefully won’t be fooled ever again like this. Another mis-conception, something that is said by many health professionals, thus people will tell you this over an over, which can make me really angry…
#3 - I locked my spine or threw out my spine doing a particular activity
This kind of phrase is not really the fault of the people with back pain themselves, but is really down to the health professionals they have seen. For years, people have been told by health professionals that they threw out their spine or locked a joint because of whatever it is they did.
This is not true and yes, makes me a little angry each time I here that. Your initial reaction may be is he gone mad when you read this. Yes and no, the activity that was being performed caused a problem with the back at that moment.
One or more hidden causes has pre-dispositioned the spine to become vulnerable. For example, bending down to pick up that book that fell on the floor was not the true cause. It was like ‘the last drop in the bucket before overflowing’ scenario.
Over time your spine has been weakened by the hidden causes and eventually anything can cause an onset of back pain. Sometimes it could be a very insignificant activity like turning to your right to pick the coat of the hook.
I am sure you may have had one of those moments yourself, you could not believe something so stupid could cause back pain.
And as per above (mis-conception 2) you probably had your spine manipulated, pain eased, you could move better…so you got on with your life, but…?
#4 - Not understanding back pain is a process… not dealing with the cause from day one
…a few weeks or months later (or sometimes years) the back pain re-appears again. Yes, the same scenario, you did something really insignificant to cause the pain. The only difference this time is that your pain is a lot worse than the last spell you had.
Back pain the first time around was a sign of your body (spine) telling you there is something wrong. In other words, a process of changes is occurring at present. The hidden causes are at work thus back pain can re-occur at any moment again.
People think that when they had back pain the first time and after rest, taking some painkillers etc. and that the pain settled, everything is fine again. Not realising that those hidden causes are still there and are only causing more and more changes to occur.
Thus the first spell or previous spells are all related to the most current spell of back pain… it is a process.
Eventually another episode of back pain will happen again, with the periods in between of no pain becoming less until the back pain becomes permanent. And will be a lot harder to overcome…
#5 - Treating the symptoms only…
People often will see their doctor and are sent away with a prescription of painkillers, anti-inflammatory tablets and told to rest.
Some may even see a health professional like a Physiotherapist, Chiropractor or Osteopath. They most likely will manipulate the spine and prescribe some generic exercises.
This means only the back pain symptoms are being treated. The pain killers etc. will reduce the pain and the manipulation will unlock a locked spinal joint. The locked joint is a condition, which developed over time due to a hidden cause, like your spine is out alignment due to muscle imbalances, which in turn causes uneven stresses to be placed on the spinal joints.
This eventually leads to that joint (or joints) getting irritated and stiffen (lock). There are 4 stages of back pain development –
- stage 1 - daily unbalanced use of our bodies
- stage 2 – the development of muscle imbalances and spinal dysfunction
- stage 3 – a condition like the disc bulging / herniation or locking joint etc. develops and…
- stage 4 – pain (symptoms)
In other words, only stages 3 and 4 have been treated, but NOT the all important stages 1 and 2… ‘the hidden causes’.
Don’t let this happen to you again, take control and start dealing with the true cause…
#6 - I have an active lifestyle and play sport regularly, therefore I don’t get back pain
This is something I hear a lot from my patients, telling me that they are surprised to have back pain or feel they should be ok, because they spend most day on their feet in work and are active.
Besides I am playing regularly sport so I am fit and in good shape…
Making them think that back pain is not something they have to worry about. This is not true in my experience, as people who play sport stress their spine a lot more and are more prone to developing back pain.
Especially if you think that most of those people will have some form of imbalance due to the un-balanced use of their body over the years.
Even though being fit, having great fitness and being generally in good shape is no reason not to develop back pain. Sport and being active in work can still cause an unbalanced use of your body and spine.
The opposite is true also, don’t think ‘the less active the more change of back pain’. Basically having a good balance in our daily activities is very important.
But back pain does not always necessarily mean there is just a mechanical problem…
#7 - I have back pain so there must be something physically wrong with my body or spine
Earlier in this book I touched on the subject of stress and emotional repressed pain as part of ‘Pillar 2 – The Mind’. Having back pain does not instantly mean there is some mechanical issue with the spine or something more sinister going on with your spine.
Many of my patients have repressed emotions they initially did not know they had. They may think they have dealt with an important happening in their life, but when discussed they eventually realise they have not fully dealt with it at all.
These emotions will cause chemical changes in the nerve activity and eventually can cause physical pain. It can also happen that these repressed emotions can cause a chronic pain pattern to develop even though the mechanical issues of the spine have been dealt with.
Or it may be due to having a lot of stress in your life. Financial problems, working long hours or dealing with too much pressure from unrealistic expectations of the boss or maybe you have relationship problems etc.
So don’t be fooled thinking there is something wrong with your spine. It may be worth having a honest look at your life and yourself and figure out if there is something else playing – in your mind that is.
But the opposite is true also, don’t think when you develop back pain that you may have some unresolved issues in your life. Your starting point is looking at ‘hidden causes’ as part of the physical side of things.
But most of us have some form of stress in our lives, we can do without. Try and take the time for yourself, do some relaxation in the form of meditation or reading a book or just lie down and close your eyes in a quiet space.
And deal with any stress you encounter in life, at work, from family, friends etc…
#8 Being over-weight is the cause of my back pain
I am sure you have heard that before, most likely from your doctor. You went to see him or her regarding the back pain you developed. Being sent away with the words ‘you need to lose some weight’…
And everything will be ok… nothing is further from the truth!
Being over-weight is not the cause of your back pain, so losing weight is not going to solve your back pain problems. It is true that the extra weight at the front (round the tummy) for example will make your lower back pain muscles work a lot harder.
But the real cause is that changes have occurred, most likely in the form of muscle imbalances. Once you have lost the weight, the muscle imbalances are still present. Probably you have an unbalanced lifestyle like most, which will cause further enhancement of these muscle imbalances and/or other factors.
You will continue to experience back pain, maybe initially intermittently, but unlike you deal with the ‘hidden causes’, loosing just the weight is not going to solve your back pain.
Being overweight is not good for optimum functioning of your spine and of course it is good for your long term health. So yes loose the weight but also deal with the ‘hidden causes’.
There is always a solution to your back pain…
#9 - There are no options left for me – I tried everything already
It may feel like there is no solution to your back pain as you think you have tried every possible treatment available under the sun.
There are so many options available, even some you may have never heard of.
I have patients whom I advice to see another health professional as well or if I feel I am not providing the suitable treatment for that particular patient. I am not sitting here and telling you I will resolve the back pain problems of every single person.
I am only human, one that does his best to help, but I am somebody who can’t know everything or do everything. An approach of working on various aspects is often needed or sometimes one thing does not work but maybe something else does.
We are all different and respond different to various available treatments…
‘One approach does NOT fit all’
I am sure you can find another form of treatment if you think you have tried it all and seen it all. Maybe do a search online, ask friends and colleagues who have experienced back pain before.
Don’t give up!
Especially if you have not worked on muscle imbalances, or maybe not in the right way, get the right advice on this as from my experience of 25 years dealing with back pain, it is the #1 reason for developing back pain.
Yes, there are some cases (1%) whom can only be helped via surgery or maybe they can only expect through correct advice to make the best of their daily life… they have to learn to live with their back pain, how horrible this may sound.
#10 Not Taking Control of your own back pain and take action
This boils all the previous 9 mistakes & mis-conceptions together, as only you can take the steps and action to start healing your back pain. Yes help of a health professional may be needed initially, but it is you who needs to implement all the necessary advice and exercise program provided, but also do your own research and think for yourself, don’t just take what your health professional says as being the end and all.
Presuming your health professional provides you with the correct advice and program. Just having your spine manipulated, or taking pain killers or just resting etc. is not going to deal with the hidden causes that eventually resulted in the back pain. The hidden causes will continue to cause havoc and more pain episodes will follow…
…But remember your back pain is a process which has often been happening for a while. Thus the changes occurred will take time to reverse, but will, as long you start taking action and most importantly…
…START TAKING CONTROL OF YOUR BACK PAIN TODAY!