#12 Back pain: the truth and the science to prove it

This is the second part of a blog about back pain.  This blog deals with the MBS approach to understanding back pain.

 

How can back pain occur in the absence of something wrong with the back?

 

There is a way to explain this based on new research into how the brain changes over time (neuroplasticity).  One way is to consider what happens in phantom limb syndrome.  In this situation, there is pain in the area of the body that is missing; that has been amputated.  Clearly, there is nothing wrong with the area where the pain is felt, yet there can be severe pain.  In this case, the pain appears to be due to sensitization of nerve fibers that go back to the brain, amplification of pain in the brain and a conditioned response of nerve fibers going back to the body.  The brain and body have in essence learned to have this pain.  The nerve connections have gotten fired after the amputation, but then have gotten “wired” and keep sending pain signals, which are felt to be in the amputated limb.  It is likely that back pain (and other pain syndromes, including headaches, abdominal and pelvic pain, whiplash, fibromyalgia and TMJ pain) is caused in many people by similar nerve pathways. 

 

 

 

What triggers this type of back pain to start and become chronic?

 

The answer is surprising and even offensive to some people and that is stress and emotional reactions to stressful events.  A classic study showed the Boeing employees over four years and found that psychological stress predicted back pain much more than any other variable, including how much they used their back on their job.  Other studies in Sweden, Holland, and England showed similar findings.  In fact, job satisfaction is the most important factor that appears to determine if someone will develop chronic back pain or return to work after back surgery.  Continue reading

#11–Back pain 101–How modern medicine gets it wrong…

Conventional “knowledge” tells us that we were not meant to walk upright and that backs typically degenerate over time which leads to chronic back pain.  If back pain was caused by degeneration of the back and the discs between the vertebrae, then it would make sense that back pain would increase with age.  This is not the case however.  Back pain actually drops a bit after age 65.  We have been told that back pain will occur more often in people who use their backs more often.  However, in studies from around the world, more people have back pain in industrialized, modern societies than in rural, agrarian societies. 

 

What is the cause of back pain?  There are several serious medical conditions that can cause back pain, such as a vertebral fracture (usually a compression fracture seen in the elderly or those with osteopenia), cancer of the vertebrae (seen in those with metastatic breast, lung or prostate cancer), serious abdominal conditions such as rupture of an abdominal aortic aneurysm, pancreatic cancer, rupture of a duodenal ulcer, or infections such as osteomyelitis, epidural abscess or diskitis.  Fortunately, these conditons are relatively rare and easy to diagnose with modern imaging techniques (X-ray, CT or MRI). 

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Letter from D.R.–“Saving the only life I could save”

 

 

Dear Dr. Schubiner,

 

For so many years, I have been taught and “programmed” to please others and basically ignore what I was feeling; because I didn’t matter.  I denied myself things such as food (anorexia), pain medications and even rest.  I even felt that I didn’t deserve to have feelings and lived with tremendous guilt.

 

I started to have pain at the age of 13 and I am now 49 years old.  I had a very difficult childhood with severe abuse and neglect and it has been reflected in pain for all these years.  I now understand that my subconscious mind caused me to have severe headaches.  They began gradually and occurred about twice a month.  But they were severe and forced me to lie in bed and cry.  The headaches started to occur more often, until they came daily and lasted for the next 20 years!  I forged on with my life; marrying, working and starting a family.  The pain finally got so horrible that I had to quit a job that I loved and held for 21 years. 

 

I was devastated, but I decided to become the best wife possible.  I was determined to be the best coupon shopper to find sales on all items, sometimes dragging two toddlers with me across town just to save 50 cents.  I tried to be the best housekeeper and stay at home Mom.  I was obsessive about everything, to the point of exhaustion.  Finally, I had a nervous breakdown and was hospitalized for three weeks. 

Since taking your workshop and beginning therapy, I have come to an amazing revelation.  My internal child was telling me, “Hey, I matter and if you won’t listen to me, then I’ll just have to force you to pay attention.  I want some nurturing too.  Quit trying to please everyone else and be kind to me.  I deserve it.”

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