Welcome to Lower Back Pain Answers

I’m Stephen O'Dwyer, Neuromuscular Therapist, health educator and lower back pain researcher. I've been helping individuals achieve lasting relief for chronic pain for 30 years.

This site is part of suite of websites where you might run into me so I've clarified which site is which below... All are devoted to a single mission...

Relieving That Pain Your Doctor Can't Explain™️

In other words, providing solutions for "unexplained" pain: pain for which the diagnosis is either vague or inconclusive.

Here's a summary of the websites:

lower back pain answers

The site you're currently on now was established in 2004 exclusively as an information source about lower back pain. Here you'll find a wide range of articles about many aspects of pain and dysfunction.

relieving that pain online courses

Launched in December 2020, this learning platform hosts of a growing list of self-paced online courses.

Just released, a powerful new and innovative course: Stretching Blueprint for Pain Relief and Better Flexibility...

click for course description

Neuromuscular Therapy of vermont

This is the site of my private practice which, until March of 2020, served as the primary resource for my local clientele. Because I am not taking in-person appointments due to the COVID pandemic, this site primarily serves to provide an extended background about my work and as a relay for the current work I'm sharing online.

what is The Most Important Lower Back Pain Question?

"Why the heck didn't my doctor tell me that?"

This important question often comes up at the end of my treatment sessions with new clients.

Now that they’ve learned about concepts such as…

  • Muscular Compensation
  • Myofascial Trigger Points
  • Sensory-Motor Amnesia

…and now that they feel a renewed sense of hope about achieving back pain relief, they often express confusion about why their doctor never mentioned any of these possible causes for their back pain.

My answer to their question creates a launching pad for this entire website.

Innovations in Understanding lower back pain

During the last half-century, back pain research has benefited from several profound innovations in understanding.

For example, Dr. Janet Travell, M.D., made clear in her two-volume work, Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction (co-authored with Dr. David Simons), that myofascial trigger points in muscles are a major source of much chronic pain in the body.

Dr. Ida Rolf, Ph.D., biochemist and physiologist, developed Structural Integration (aka Rolfing), a profound method of bodywork designed to relieve painful conditions by lengthening the connective tissue (aka fascia) surrounding muscles.

But, unfortunately, the work of Dr. Travell and Dr. Rolf (as well as many other innovators in the field of chronic pain) has only slowly made its way into mainstream medical thinking.

Why the delay?

It’s due to our collective undervaluing of the muscles.

Those Undervalued Muscles

Despite the fact that our muscles make up 40% or more of our total body weight, they remain the ignored stepchild in modern medical schools.

Instead, medical schools focus attention on joints, nerves, bursae, and bones. The unfortunate result for sufferers of lower back pain is that many physicians don’t have much experience in dealing with muscular problems.

And that’s brings us to the crux of the issue...

To understand back pain, it’s essential to understand the muscles. The majority of back pain is caused, not by degenerative discs or pinched nerves, but by dysfunction in the muscles.

Of course, in some instances disc or nerve problems or other pathologies are present and require serious medical intervention such as surgery. But such cases occupy a very small percentage of lower back problems.

By far, the highest percentage of individuals afflicted with back pain are suffering from muscular problems.

The Reason Your Doctor Didn't Tell You

"It's not because your doctor doesn’t care," I tell my clients. "It's because, despite the incredible advances in medicine...

"...allopathic physicians still receive very minimal training in the musculoskeletal system.

And musculoskeletal dysfunction is responsible for a very high percentage of back pain."

There are, of  course, cases where pathological conditions, trauma or injury are a factor -- sometimes the principle factor -- in causing pain.

But even when this is the case, additional musculoskeletal contributions to pain are very common.

Therefore we always need to consider this realm. 

root causes of all Unexplained pain

Further, it's not just back pain that is caused by musculoskeletal dysfunction but also pain throughout the entire body.

That's why I not only cover the primary causes and solutions for back pain here, but also the causes and remedies for hip, leg and knee pain, as well as shoulder, neck and arm pain and more.

While resolving lower back pain has occupied a large percentage of my time over the last thirty years, I have spent an equal share of time and clinical research on resolving pain throughout the entire body.

Once we stand back in order to have a wider view of the root causes of lower back pain (like standing back from a painting for more perspective) we cannot help but recognize a simple fact:

That the root causes of unexplained back pain are the same root causes of unexplained hip pain, shoulder pain, neck pain, knee pain and more.

The Answer is in the Muscles

Tight, short, strained or compensating muscles can be painful enough to make you believe there's something seriously wrong.

But often there's not.

What's needed is a better understanding of the muscles and a better approach.

Here at Lower Back Pain Answers I promise you will find both.

Wishing you all the best in your search for lower back pain answers!

Stephen O'Dwyer, CNMT

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Anatomy Images Courtesy of BIODIGITAL

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