Lower Back pain


Seven Back Pain Mistakes

7e Back Pain Mistakes
If you’re reading this book, most likely you—or a loved
one is experiencing, or has experienced, back pain. Maybe
you’ve tried some of the treatments out there but haven’t
found any lasting relief. At this point, you may be wondering
why you haven’t had greater success. Through my practice,
I’ve found that the reasons back-pain sufferers continue to
suffer are usually because they make one or more of the
following seven common mistakes.n
Mistake #1:n
Continuing a Treatment That Doesn’t Work
I’ve talked to a number of back-pain sufferers who have
amazing stories of how long they tried a particular type of
treatment before giving it up. Prior to enlisting our help, one
of our clients actually went through 70 treatments with a
chiropractor—and experienced no relief at all.
I know of several other clients who spent a lot of money on
massage therapists and acupuncturists, only to get temporary
relief that disappeared within a few days.
This doesn’t make any sense. If you’re using a back-pain
solution that doesn’t work or hasn’t worked permanently,
 it’sworth trying a different approach. Some treatments work for
some people, but if a treatment isn’t working for you, that’s
what’s important.
Here’s a general rule to follow: Once you’ve gone through
a three-month period of treatment, if you see no
improvement, consider making a change. It’s not so much
that you should have only X amount of treatments, but that
you should notice steady progress in your pain relief. This
relief should be of the long-lasting variety—not the kind that
wears off in a few hours.
Mistake #2:n
Failing to Solve the Problem the First Time
Many people experience back pain that lasts a few days and
then subsides. When the pain disappears, rather than make an
effort to identify and address the cause of it, they simply
forget about it.
Here’s an example: About 10 years ago, my mother had
her first bout with back pain. She suffered back spasms for a
few days, then the pain went away and she went on with her
life. Two years later, it came back—much worse than before.
It got so bad, she couldn’t work. If she had taken that first
round of pain more seriously, I doubt she would have had to
go through the second one. Even if she did, it wouldn’t have
been nearly as bad and she’d have known exactly what to do
to get rid of the pain again, but this time much more quickly.
I understand why this happens. Most people believe that
when the pain goes away, the problem does, too. This is a
common misconception that I hope will be corrected as you
read this book.
The truth is, even though the pain may ease up for a while,
if you haven’t figured out what caused it in the first place,
that cause is still there, lurking, waiting to flare up again. Of
course, figuring out what causes back pain isn’t always easy.
If you have a fall or some other sudden accident, it’s not
difficult to figure out why your back hurts. But in nearly all
cases, the pain is caused by any number of things, things you
may not have even thought about. You need to investigate
what unhealthy conditions may be developing in your body
and, more important, what’s creating those conditions. I like
to call these “hidden causes,” and you’ll discover them later in
this book.
Mistake #3:n
Thinking You’re Too “Healthy”
or “Fit” to Have Back Pain
You may eat right, exercise regularly, and enjoy good
health, but that doesn’t mean you can’t experience back pain.
Having been a personal trainer for many years, I’ve seen a lot
of people in excellent shape who suddenly find themselves
with lower-back trouble. The reality is that people who
exercise frequently are just as likely—if not more so—to
develop back pain. Certain groups of athletes—including
runners, cyclists, swimmers, dancers, gymnasts, and
bodybuilders—are prime candidates for back problems.
Cyclists, for example, spend hours in a hunched
position—a position that’s not natural for the body to
maintain over long periods of time. This causes a number of
problems, as you’ll discover shortly. In addition, the constant
repetitive motion of peddling a bicycle overworks one set of
muscles while underworking another. These imbalanced
behaviors are very common in many people, and frequently
they create conditions in the body that lead to back pain.
The same thing can happen to nonathletes. Even if you
don’t do any of the above-mentioned activities, your workout
program can create problems if you’re concentrating too
heavily on certain areas of your body—making the pain
worse—while neglecting others. Being fit doesn’t necessarily
mean that your body is well-balanced or devoid of other
causes that could lead to back pain.
Mistake #4:n
Treating Only the Symptoms
The majority of the treatments people receive—including
cortisone shots, anti-inflammatory drugs, ultrasound,
electrical stimulation, and the like—address only the
symptoms of pain. You must understand that pain is merely a
signal that something is wrong. Even if you get rid of the
pain, the problem is still going to be there.
Here’s an illustration: Suppose the oil light comes on in
your car. You could put a piece of duct tape over the light,
which would eliminate the aggravation, but it won’t solve the
problem. Your engine is still going to need attention. And
unless you do something about it, it’s only a matter of time
before it will break down.
It’s the same with pain. You’re hurting because your body
is suffering some sort of stress or strain. If you don’t address
it, you’ll continue on with your “oil light” lit, so to speak,
until something breaks down. Unfortunately, such a
breakdown is usually very painful.
Mistake #5:n
Not Understanding That Back Pain Is a Process
Most of the time, back pain, neck pain, and sciatica take
weeks, months, or even years to develop. Usually, you’re not
aware of a problem until something starts to hurt. But rarely
is back pain the result of a one-time incident. Barring an
injury like a car accident, back pain typically doesn’t happen
overnight. And even if a fall or an accident did trigger pain for
you, the fact is that before the event you likely had several
“hidden causes” placing unnecessary strain on your body.
Consider this example. Many of us sit for hours a day,
especially if we’re required to work at a computer or be in the
driver’s seat of a car or truck. The body wasn’t made to sit
that long. (That’s why we’re seeing so many cases of back pain
now as compared to several decades ago.)
Sitting puts extra pressure on the spine. It also shortens the
muscles in the front of our hips and the backs of our legs
while weakening others, like the ones in the rear end and the
abdomen. To make matters worse, most of us adopt poor
posture when we’re sitting. The shoulders round, the head
juts forward, and the back curves like a “C.” When we stand
up again, we feel that tightness in the backs of our legs and in
our hips, and most of us retain that stooped posture even
when in the upright position.
Imagine that the front end of your car is out of alignment,
which causes the tires to wear unevenly. This also can happen
to your muscles. Doing one thing over and over (such as
sitting with bad posture) can throw the body out of its proper
alignment, forcing it to adapt and work at strange angles.
After a long period of operating this way, certain muscles,
tendons, ligaments, and joints wear down, while others that
are barely used become stiff and weak. The end result of this
long process is often a condition like back pain, but it also can
manifest itself as many other conditions, such as foot pain,
knee pain, hip pain, shoulder problems, carpal tunnel
syndrome, and dozens of others.
Unfortunately, X-rays, MRIs, and CAT scans don’t reveal
much of the uneven wear and tear we’re talking about here, so
many people are unaware of what has caused their pain. Even
after undergoing treatment that may give them some relief,
they have failed to address the underlying causes, setting them
up to likely have to deal with this problem for a very long
Mistake #6:n

Believing There Are No More Options Left
After suffering back pain for a while, and trying various
treatments, you may tell yourself that surgery is the only
option left or—even worse—that you’ll just have to learn to
live with the pain.
If you’ve experienced little success, you may
understandably feel tired of trying. My “message of hope,” so
to speak, is that pain is not your problem. Determining what
is causing the pain is the problem. When you can get to the
underlying, often hidden cause of your back pain, it becomes
much easier to treat successfully.
Most practitioners try to get rid of back pain without ever
really trying to figure out what’s causing it. For example, two
people can experience the exact same level and location of
back pain, but for wildly different reasons.
Let’s say you’ve tried physical therapy, but it didn’t work
for you. It’s not that physical therapy doesn’t work; the
problem is that the therapist didn’t have you doing the right
combination of things to address the specific causes of your
pain. Remember: Pain isn’t the problem. It’s just a message
that you have a problem.
Forget about treatments that try to make the message go
away. Until you’ve attempted to figure out what’s causing the
pain, you haven’t come close to exhausting your treatment
options. In fact, I’m willing to bet that there are several
treatments you likely have not tried (maybe never even heard
of) and I’ll tell you about these later in this book.
Mistake #7:n                                                           
Failing to Take Control
Many back-pain sufferers look to others to make them
well. The problem with this is that no one cares more about
your body and health than you do, and in the end, you have
to take the steps necessary to allow and assist your body to
A medical doctor looks at back pain as a muscular
problem. Prescribe the right drugs, he believes, and the
problem goes away.
The surgeon sees it as a disc or vertebrae problem—a
bulging disc is putting pressure on a nerve. She thinks that by
cutting away the problem, it will go away.
The acupuncturist feels that back pain is related to poor
circulation within the body. By using acupuncture treatments,
he encourages better circulation and believes that it will
stimulate the body’s natural self-healing powers to kick in.
The chiropractor sees back pain as a misalignment of the
spinal column. She thinks that by manipulating the spinal
column into alignment, she will fix the problem.
These treatment approaches are all partially right.
The challenge with back pain is that the cause is different
for each person—and often involves a combination of factors.
Because no back pain practitioner is well-versed in all these
areas—nor overly knowledgeable about matching conditions
with treatments—nobody other than you will ever consider
the “big picture,” or holistic aspect, of what’s causing your
This is why I found relief only when I took charge of my
own care. I certainly called on others when appropriate, but I
was personally responsible and determined to get rid of the
problem once and for all.n
I encourage you to adopt the same attitude. As you read
the chapters that follow, you’ll come to understand what’s
going on with your body and learn how to finally get the
lasting relief you’ve been looking for.
Let’s get started!n