According to the UK National Health Service it is estimated that one in five people will visit their GP in any given year because of back pain. And 80% of adults will experience at least one episode of back pain at some point in their life.
As you can see, back pain is a pretty common occurrence but, as much as there are lots of factors that can cause back pain, there seem to be as many treatments for it too.
So what would be your first step when suffering back pain? Well for most people it would a trip to their family doctor, to the local pharmacy for some pain relieving medication, or in some cases to a massage therapist. Unfortunately, the success rate from these three strategies
is pretty poor. Sure, you may get some short-term pain relief via the medication or massage, but what about in the long term? Let me give you a better, long term view that actually gets to the root cause of the problem.
Im going to make it simple here as you’re probably not all that interested in reading my long winded, anatomical descriptions of various type of back pain, so, here we go:
Where to go?
GP or Family Physician: In my experience, and that of my clients, this is probably not the best course of action. Usually, they will often prescribe pain killers, NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), and rest.
Chiropractor or Osteopath: Definitely a better course of action. Back/Neck pain can be caused by structural mis-alignment (for a number of different reasons). Depending on your particular chiropractor/osteopath and the type of injury you may have x-rays taken, manipulations, massage, pain killers, NSAIDs. These types of treatments usually work well but can often last for a fairly short period of time; therefore requiring regular return visits.
CHEK Practitioner: I can just about imagine the silence, confused looks, and murmuring of “What practitioner????” about now! Don’t worry I’m about to enlighten you.
A CHEK Practitioner has a very high level of knowledge of the anatomy of the spine and associated structures and usually have a very strong background in Exercise Physiology too. We (this is where you realize that I happen to be a CHEK Practitioner), are taught about the fundamental importance of Assessment.
We will spend time talking to you about your pain history, lifestyle, eating habits, work and sports environment, before performing a comprehensive postural/structural assessment which includes assessment of the function of your ‘core’ musculature. From the collected data we gain a detailed schematic of any imbalances in the muscular system (and, therefore the skeletal system too), weaknesses in key muscles (not doing the job of supporting the spine, for example, that they were designed for), and how this is affecting the function of your body (often culminating in pain).
The practitioner will then be able to give you a programme of strengthening and stretching exercises to help restore function to your body and remove pain; and also explain how your postural habits are affecting your body’s function.
Your practitioner will also have a good background in how your nutritional habits can affect your back pain. “OK, now you’re just being ridiculous” I hear you moan. But wait, before you go clicking over to read Stephen Fry’s latest Tweet, just hear me out. You see, food intolerances and myriad other digestive disorders can actually hinder your body’s ability to ‘switch on’ those all important ‘core’ muscles such as the deep abdominal wall and Multifidus muscles.
The intestinal inflammation caused by these disorders actually inhibits the nerves in the gut and therefore the core. The resulting instability is a very common cause of insidious back pain too.
So, some quick tips for you or your loved ones that are suffering with pain. Find your nearest CHEK Practitioner (Feel free to ask me where your nearest one is located) and book your assessment.
Once you have spoken with him or her, they will also be able to tell you if you need any further treatment from a chiropractor, osteopath, and/or massage therapist. This combination is, in my opinion, THE most successful route to completely eliminate your pain.
Why not go straight to a Chiropractor/Osteopath? Well, without being blunt, there are some good ones and bad ones (OK, that was a little blunt) and your local CHEK Practitioner will normally work closely with a good Chiropractor that realizes the importance of exercise rehabilitation in your treatment – the bad ones will often not give ANY exercises at all – something that never ceases to amaze and baffle me.
If you have had some improvement, but still suffer from those occasional twinges (especially if this is present in conjunction with any abdominal bloating or discomfort) you should eliminate all gluten-containing grains from your diet and keep a journal of your symptoms to track improvement.
I will be covering more on gluten intolerances, Paleo Diets, digestive disorders and more in my future blogs posts.
As always, feel free to comment below and/or email me with questions, success stories etc.
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