The Beauty of Back pain by Dr Adam Gavine
The reason I titled this article: "The beauty of back pain" is because of the myriad of areas of the body that can be treated that will improve back pain. Examples of this are abundant, but here are a few to give you some ideas.
There are many other areas of the body that can be worked on that will either have direct or indirect effects on the back. We have to remember that the body is a system made up of many even smaller systems. To say that everything is connected is a bit of an overstatement, but we have worked out that the body is connected in many ways, some of which we don't fully understand and others that we haven't even discovered yet.
When patients coming into the clinic with really bad back pain, I often start on areas far away from the site of pain such as the hips or the feet. This is because when someone's back is in a bad way, the back is commonly too inflamed to be directly worked on, which either limits or prohibits the amount of treatment that can be provided to the back region. So, I start at a non-painful region far away from the back, ‘the feet’ and work my way up toward the back. Or sometimes I start up at the neck and work my way down. Either way I'm working on an area that is not currently their main source of pain, which keeps them happy while I’m working on them, but more importantly it doesn't restrict the amount of treatment that I can provide to these areas. For instance, if I start at the feet, I may be able to get them to stand or walk better which in turn can decrease the load their back, improve their biomechanics and potentially alleviate their back pain. All this without even touching their back, how good is that?
A very common pattern that is observed in back pain sufferers is hip dysfunction. The hips are intimately related to the lower back. When we bend forward to touch our toes with straight knees this is called 'lumbopelvic flexion', 'lumbo' referring to lumbar spine, and 'pelvic' referring to the pelvis. Ideally 50% of the movement comes from our hips and 50% comes from our low back. Our hips are attached to your pelvic bones which rotate forward when we bend down to touch our toes, if our hip flexion is restricted then the pelvic portion of lumbopelvic flexion will be limited. In order to compensate the body simply gets the lumbo (lower back) portion of the equation to do more work. This is bad news for lower backs, particularly if you already have an unstable back or low back pain. Improving one’s hip range of motion is a great way to decrease or even rid many patients of their back pain, and the best part is you don’t have to mess around with someone’s painful back to do it!
So be sure to have your whole body examined and treated by your manual therapist and chiropractor, it just might be the road to effective and longer term back pain relief.
Hope that helps!
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