"Why the heck didn't my doctor tell me that?"
Welcome to Lower Back Pain Answers! I’m Stephen O'Dwyer, Neuromuscular Therapist, health educator, and pain researcher.
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…
…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.
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.
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.
"It's not because your doctor doesn’t care," I tell my clients. "It's because, despite the incredible advances in medicine...
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.
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:
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