20 Dec Going Beyond the feeling: Back Pain Treatment Solutions
By Coach Rheyson Cornilla, PTRP
Pain is an elaborate alarm system. Most of the time, it is our friend because it keeps us safe. But for some people, it becomes their enemy because pain holds them back from living their lives the way they want to.
The International Association for the Study of Pain defines it as: An unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage or described in terms of
The unpleasantness of pain is actually a call to action, or to a lesser degree, a call to attention. It demands that something be done to address a problem or a possible problem. Like an itch that needs to be scratched. Sometimes you scratch because of a mosquito bite. That’s a problem. Sometimes you scratch because you feel an itch for no reason. That’s a possible problem. But both warranted attention and action.
Those scenarios show us that HURT DOES NOT ALWAYS EQUAL HARM. The pain that we feel can over-represent or under-represent the level of harm or injury. Sometimes pain has an obvious cause which makes it easier to address. But sometimes, it is not so obvious. When it is not, we have to remember that there are contributing factors to pain and pain intensity that are beyond the physical aspect.
Did you ever get your heart broken? Chest hurts right? But is there damage? Not really.
How about Appendicitis? Tummy ache right? There’s definitely damage there. But could a tummy ache reflect other problems too?
What about headaches? There could be damage. But most of the time there is none and you attribute it to other factors like fatigue, stress, or even a lack of sleep.
This brings us to an important point. Pain can tell you about pain but cannot always tell you what is behind the pain.
So how do we deal with pain? Seeking help from the right people who understand this concept is the best way to start. Let me tell you a story about 3 people with back pain. For ease of reference, let’s call them Uno, Dos, and Tres.
I first met Uno 6 years ago. That time, her back pain was so bad she couldn’t even turn on her bed, let alone sit down. That issue was resolved and she was back to normal life. She got in touch with me because she had an acute flare-up. She was in her car and reached at the back to get something and then it hurt. That brought back memories of how bad it was 6 years ago and caused her to stiffen up and stop moving around for about a weak until she saw me. FEAR and BAD MEMORIES made her condition worse. So I saw her and after doing some tests figured out that nothing serious was going on. She felt like she had to see me TO BE SURE THAT SHE WAS OK. In this case, the problem was more than physical but it was still something I could help with. I told her she was fine so she calmed down. Then I gave her movements that are similar to what gave her pain in the first place: trunk bending and twisting.
She was fine after one session and I never saw her again.
Dos was a different case. She had low back pain on the right side which extended down to the side of the right hip. She had seen other doctors and physical therapists who gave her passive treatments based on the belief that she had a disc problem. The thing is, research tells us that disc problems aren’t always the cause of the problem. In fact, they seldom are.
We did some tests and movement exams to verify the symptoms. What we found was hypersensitivity of her gluteal nerves on the right. These are nerves on the back of the hip. The nerves cause her to feel pain and made some of her movements very weak.
I did some manual therapy to change her perception with those nerves and to convince her that she was ok. Then I got her moving and doing a strength training program.
Her symptoms improved as she got stronger and now that she’s better, she is planning to go on an overseas trip to have quality time with her family. Something that wouldn’t have been possible
with her previous pain and weakness.
Tres is a tall and jolly guy who has low back pain that comes out after walking. He also says that the pain wakes him at night and he is unable to lie down flat on the bed. Some people have attributed it to his slouched posture and even got him an upper back brace.
Upon my assessment, what I saw was his inability to extend on his spine. He cannot do backward bending. In fact, he cannot even get to a neutral or straight spine. That is why he cannot lie down flat. His body is so accustomed to a slouched position that he cannot go straight anymore. Also, walking becomes difficult because the muscles of his low back get tired trying to counteract his bent posture which makes him look like he is almost falling forward. Further testing also revealed the muscles on the back of his trunk, hips and legs are so weak that he cannot even lift his hips off the bed when lying down on his back.
Is posture the problem? Yes and no, because that is just one part of it. Being very tall, most environments force him to slouch. He also slouches so he can better communicate with the
people around him.
I gave him exercises that are opposed to his forward slouch. I made him feel those movements so he senses neutral or straight as a preparation to doing an actual extension of the spine in the future. I also gave him simple exercises to strengthen his back and hips. Tres is not so young anymore so we have to go easy on his exercise program. Tres is a work in progress. These are 3 UNIQUE individuals who experienced the SAME SYMPTOMS but under DIFFERENT SITUATIONS. All of them are were having right-sided back pain but have DIFFERENT CAUSES. These people prove that there is no single treatment technique or protocol that works for everyone all the time. Each of them required DIFFERENT TREATMENT STRATEGIES which we determined with a proper and thorough assessment.
In order to be truly helpful, we seek first to truly understand. We develop our treatment strategies based on thorough assessments so we can truly address your concerns. We treat people as unique individuals so our treatment strategies reflect people’s unique situations.
No two people are exactly the same so no two treatments are exactly the same either.
Road to Recovery from Pain
If you’ve been dealing with back pain and feel like you are getting the same generic treatment as everyone else because no one has really listened to your story, you should drop by and give
us a visit.
We’re here to listen. We’re here to help.