Solutions To Back Pain

By David Baron
More than 80 percent of people in the country suffer from some form of back pain at some point in their lives, especially in their lower back, and about one-fifth of all doctors’ office visits are related to back pain. So I’m guessing there’s a pretty good chance that this article will be of some interest to many of you.
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In addition to the discomfort and inconvenience of having an aching back, this problem results in high costs, in the form of medical expenses and lost wages. If you’ve never had back pain, you’re darn lucky, and I’m jealous. It can be a mild annoyance, or so debilitating that it’s difficult to breathe or go about your day. I’ve had it intermittently since lifting a heavy bundle of newspapers at my after-school job at age 13. My dad has had it chronically and my mom, episodically.
In fact, there’s a very strong genetic component to back pain, making certain people more or less prone to the problem. But what can you control that might decrease the chances of you joining the ranks of the suffering masses?
The causes of most common back pain are unknown. It almost certainly has something to do with the fact that evolution of the spine never really caught up with the move from apes to hominids and four legs to two. The freedom to use arms and hands independently while walking upright is about as critical a factor in the success of humanity as anything. But we traded it for a spine that is overburdened and mechanically disadvantaged, hence the problems.
Most low back pain is muscular in origin, and not indicative of herniated discs, pinched nerves or other more serious and unusual conditions. And most of the time, imaging (e.g. X-ray, MRI) is neither necessary nor helpful, except in so much as it can exclude the rarer things.
You should see a doctor about your back pain if it came on acutely after some kind of accident, is accompanied by fever, nausea or vomiting, numbness or weakness in a limb, if the pain shoots down one leg all the way to the foot (called “sciatica”) or, if the pain is simply so severe that you can’t manage it with a little rest, stretching and over-the-counter pain relievers like Advil, Aleve or Tylenol. And yes – stress, inadequate sleep, lack of exercise, being extremely overweight and poor ergonomics all contribute to back pain too.
It’s been well-proven that most low back pain goes away by itself and that all kinds of professional treatments help, but especially the ones that are “hands-on” like massage, physical therapy and acupuncture.
Do you carry a heavy backpack around and let it hang off of one shoulder? Don’t do that. Wear it on both. Do you spend hours and hours in front of the computer, or slouching on a couch or bed with your smartphone or iPad? Or do you just spend far too much of your days sitting? Well, do whatever you can to get up and get moving, frequently throughout your day, every hour, even if it’s just for a few minutes at a time.
Take an exercise class that focuses on what’s called “core strengthening,” like Pilates or yoga. Be mindful of your posture while sitting at your desk or in class.
And you might consider reading a great little book called “Mind Over Back Pain” written by a very smart New York orthopedist named John Sarno, M.D., who recognized the connection between stress, emotional distress and back pain and the overabundance of spine surgeries being performed in the United States that didn’t wind up getting rid of the patients’ back pain.
Hope this helps get you back in the action, instead of having to sit it out because of your back pain.

At Primary Caring of Malibu we have returned to old-fashioned style family medicine to bring our patients the exclusive personal care and attention they deserve. It’s not a new idea — it’s just an old concept brought up-to-date, with modern methods and technology making it even better.

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