by Gabriel Ariciu, DC
I took a bit of a hiatus from writing. My break was partially due to the last article I wrote, as it was a bit long and arduous. I am going to try to refrain from writing tl;dr articles from now on. Most of our articles and posts have to do with chronic disease, but this is not to discount some of the most abundant issues we see each day. Low back pain (LBP) is probably the number one reason why patients come to see us, or any chiropractor, for that matter. For today’s post, I wanted to write a little bit about what is going with LBP and how Ozark Holistic Center can help.
If you suffer from low back pain, then please get in touch with our Fayetteville holistic health center to schedule an appointment. We provide chiropractic treatment, nutritional counseling, and a number of other services that can help you feel your best. Read on to learn more about natural back pain relief and how natural treatments can help you get back to pain-free living.
Low back pain is one of the most prevalent musculoskeletal issues in the world today. It is probably safe to say we all know someone who has low back pain, or back pain in general. Many of these cases are chronic, which means that the pain has lasted for more than three months. That being said let’s talk a little bit about what LBP is not. Too many people are diagnosed with LBP and we see the opposite of the placebo effect, the nocebo. This is one of the biggest reasons why low back pain becomes chronic. A patient is told they blew their discs in their back, they are shown an MRI that proves that a disc has been blown, and then they are told to be careful for the rest of their lives. This chain of events causes an overprotective mechanism which leads to chronic pain and debilitation. Research has shown that diagnostic imaging is rather detrimental in most cases and is rarely needed. In fact, X-rays and MRIs have shown disc bulges, protrusions, and degeneration in patients who do not have any symptoms, including pain. This means that what we see in diagnostic imaging tests does not necessarily reliably indicate pain. Yes, this flies in the face of what others have said, but it’s true.
If you get anything out of this article, let it be that the human body is fearfully and wonderfully made. The back is robust and can take a beating. I never want to limit my clients’ mobility, and I always promote the value of an active lifestyle. I encourage compound movements like deadlifts, *gasp!* Often, these exercises and movements strengthen the back. Furthermore, if a client is experiencing pain, movement can override the pain fibers. This is the reason why we vigorously rub our fingers after smashing it in the door. Back pain can get better, and in most cases, it does, even without intervention. If that is so, then why should we do anything about it? It is true that many back pain treatment plans span the length of time that it takes for your body to heal itself. So, who’s to say it was the intervention that helped the body heal? It could just as easily have been the body repairing itself. This is the reason why I’m writing today’s article.
Back pain is often treated with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and rest. If the pain gets worse, then a stronger regimen including muscle relaxers and opioids may be prescribed. Thankfully, however, we are moving away from this practice. This is particularly good news, especially with the recent news article detailing that our life expectancy has dropped due to suicide and opioid abuse. Also, pain relievers mask the underlying issue instead of treating it. I get it, though. Maybe you did something wrong and twinged your back, you deal with it for a few days, and then you are back to normal. But that is not always the case.
For instance, I was deadlifting a few years ago and lifted poorly due to a distraction and twinged my lower back. It was very painful. I had pain for two or three weeks before I did something about it. I went to one of my mentors, a chiropractor. He tractioned my lower back and put my bone back in place. Just kidding! My bone was not out of place. He adjusted it or put motion back into a fixated joint in my back, essentially resetting the nervous system and normalizing the musculature of the area. The pain was gone! Hopefully, you are beginning to see the reason why you should have an intervention instead of simply waiting for the problem to get better with time. I don’t know about many of you, but I tend to need my back regularly. I waited too long for something that could help me with my immediately. This is not uncommon — almost all of us wait and put off doing what we need to do at the cost of our productivity and time.
So, what is going on? Why does your back hurt? That is a difficult question that doesn’t really have a straightforward answer. Unless there is an accident associated with your pain, it is hard to point the finger definitively. Many clients wake up with pain, or it comes on with no rationale behind it. They were going about their day as normal, and then the pain reared its ugly head. I usually liken it to the straw that breaks the camel’s back. Much of our understanding associated with low back pain is being illuminated by research pertaining to fascia. Read through my previous article for a more in-depth discussion about this topic.
Fascia can become restricted and inflamed, essentially functioning as scar tissue (in fact, some researchers argue that inflamed fascia and scar tissue are the same). Nevertheless, these points of injury can accumulate and ultimately break the camel’s back, to put the point metaphorically. This is when the back pain starts. It’s hard to map out because everyone is different and has their own unique experience of pain. However, this fact does not mean that we do not know how to address low back pain.
Now that the context is laid, let’s talk about the natural approach to back pain treatment.
The Natural Approach to Low Back Pain
The body is covered in an intricate matrix of fascia that overlays our muscles and organs. It is continuous from head to toe, and it is meant to freely glide as we move. In fact, no two movements are ever the same, as we constantly adapt to our dynamic and ever-changing environment. Our muscles, skeleton, and nervous system all work together to produce movement. I say this so you understand that just like everything else, low back pain requires a holistic approach. Holistic simply means to investigate head to toe, to leave nothing out in the quest for a solution. Let me illustrate this point more carefully with a few examples.
The first example is very common in my field. Most of the people who come to our holistic health center with low back pain tend to have some imbalance in the muscles that we find through manual muscle testing. Some muscles in the low back or abdomen do not withstand the test. For instance, an imbalance in the quadratus lumborum (QL), which connects the bottom of the ribs to the pelvis, is quite common. However, I find imbalances in the glutes to be the most problematic. Through manual muscle testing and systems health care techniques, I find the fascial restrictions connected to the muscle imbalance. This problem is corrected via myofascial release or deep tissue massage. Healing an imbalance can be quite painful, but the process reconfigures the fascia and helps the tissue to heal properly.
After a series of these injuries is found and corrected, the muscles normalize and balance themselves and withstand the muscle tests without issue. The client almost always gets up and reports that their pain is gone, or at least dramatically reduced. Of course, there is more to do and I do recommend exercises and other preventative steps to further help them. But typically, this type of client comes in for one or two visits at most. You can never promise anything — we just do our best for each case. The same principle applies to my next example.
In the second case, the client has a more underlying and fundamental problem going on. They typically present in the same way, however. Their lower back hurts, many of the same muscles are affected, but something else is off. The pain either doesn’t subside with treatment, or it comes back after a short period of time. In my experience, these clients typically have some type of organ dysfunction going on. For instance, quite commonly we will get female clients who suffer from low back pain. In the course of working on them, it comes up that they have an IUD or that they are on birth control. The IUD especially causes a general inhibition of the muscles related to the reproductive system, which happen to be the glutes, among others. This can result in low back pain, as well as other issues. Other clients have too much estrogen in their diet. This leads to estrogen dominance, which can often affect the same muscles. Another client of mine had bowel issues which led to the inhibition of certain muscles in their abdomen. In cases like this, the low back pain would persist until the underlying problem was diagnosed and treated. Please note that I am not advocating going off of birth control, as that is out of my scope of practice. This is just something I have noticed as I’ve worked with more and more patients. I always leave decisions of reproductive health up to the client and their medical doctor.
Well, that about does it for today’s entry on low back pain. There is always more to be covered, so please check back frequently to read our latest posts and helpful resources.
We know that low back pain can be complicated, so please don’t hesitate to get in touch with Ozark Holistic Center to learn more. You can fill out the form below or book your appointment online. We look forward to speaking with you.