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Mistakes you should avoid dealing with low back pain

7 Mistakes Everyone Suffering From Low Back Pain NEEDS TO KNOW

Stop making it worse

STOP Making These 7 Mistakes

If you or a loved one is experiencing low back pain I’m sure you’ve tried some of the treatments out there. But for some reason you still have low back pain. It’s frustrating and it seems like there is no long-term solution. So you bounce around from Doctor to Doctor, Therapist to Therapist, maybe even Pill to Pill searching for ANYTHING to relieve the debilitating low back pain. Well, through my Chiropractic practice I’ve found that those who are suffering from low back pain continue to do so because they make these very common mistakes.

Mistake #1: Continuing a Treatment That Doesn’t Work

Low back pain is easily the most common problem that presents in my office. Not only that, it seems like those who suffer from low back pain have tried multiple things before coming to my office. That being said, I’ve heard all kinds of horror stories from my patients. Often times my patients will inform us that they’ve gotten four rounds of cortisone shots, tried months of physical therapy, get massages once a week, or have even tried Chiropractic care 3x/week for an entire year and experienced no relief at all! THIS IS ABSURD! And a huge mistake.

If you are using a low back pain solution and it hasn’t started to show improvement within 6 attempts, STOP, it’s not working.

You should be able to create meaningful change in less than 6 attempts with any intervention. Now, I’m not saying a complete resolution, but to try an approach for 6 visits or more with no relief simply means, IT’S NOT WORKING. Stop, because you’re, more often than not, making it worse. This will save you time, money, aggravation, and most importantly, the integrity of your low back tissue.

Mistake #2: Failing to Address a Solution to the Problem the First Time

The majority of the patients who present with low back pain have had it in the past. Usually for years. The problem is, the first time it occurs it only lasts a few days and then goes away, remember Stephanie from the previous article? Rather than make an effort to identify why there is pain in the low back, we often ignore this pain and wait it out. The common mistake is that when the pain goes away, the problem did to. Not necessarily the case.

The body, in it’s infinite wisdom, will try anything and everything to avoid painful stimuli. Your body doesn’t like to hurt, and it’s very good at avoiding it. In order to avoid pain, your brain will develop muscular compensation patterns to change the way the joints operate. In an attempt to reduce pain, your body starts to change the normal ways our bodies were designed to operate.

This causes all kinds of mechanical problems.

Now you have a variety of joints all operating outside of their normal ranges, capacities, and function. It’s like trying to drive a car with the alignment off. Instead of fixing the alignment we’ve all made the mistake of just turning the wheel a bit. It’s not a long-term solution, but the car rides straight for a bit. Anyone can see that this is not solving anything, and it’s making the problem worse.

The truth is, even though you don’t have pain anymore, you have never really solved the problem. Your body just got tired of the pain and decided to implement a work around strategy. Your problem is still there, lurking, waiting to present again. This is why the initial presentations of low back pain are typically ON and OFF episodes. When you’re experiencing an episode, your body is mechanically dysfunctional. The body develops a temporary work around that gets you by for a couple months and then another issue arises. Then you develop another temporary work around and so on and so forth.

This mistake could cost you more than just your low back.

This ON and OFF periodic or episodic mild low back pain can continue for YEARS. We have patients come into my office who say they have had low back pain OFF and ON for over 10 years. TEN YEARS! Without a single long-term solution.

Stop letting the mild low back pain just go away and make sure you address the problem the first time.

Of course, identifying the root cause it not always easy. If you have an acute trauma like a fall or an accident it’s easy to identify what the cause is. However, more often than not, the cause is something much harder to identify. Many of my patients have no idea why their low back hurts. We call these types of causes the “hidden causes” of low back, which we’re going to cover in a later section of this blog series. For updates, you can subscribe Here.

Mistake #3: The “I’m to Healthy” Fallacy

Patients come into my office all the time with very similar comments and concerns. One that we hear a lot is that, “I eat right, exercise regularly, stretch every day, and enjoy general good healthy habits. I shouldn’t have low back pain, right?”

Well, not necessarily.

Activity is good and you should continue with good general health practices, but just because you do doesn’t mean you can’t develop low back pain. We see a lot of people in excellent shape that experience severe low back pain all the time. The reality is that people who engage in activity are just as likely, if not more, to experience low back pain than someone living a sedentary lifestyle. Active individuals are putting increased load onto certain regions of the spine much more frequently than those who are sitting on the couch all day. Now, this doesn’t mean you should go sit on the couch all day, but it does mean that you are not immune to low back pain just because you eat right and exercise often.

Take cyclists for example.

Low back pain problems

We treat a variety of athletes, but cyclists spend a significant amount of time in a seated position. Not only are they seated, but they are “hunched” over sitting in the saddle trying to reach the hoods or the drops. With a lack of hip mobility, we often see cyclists for low back pain because this “hunched” position is not mechanically good for the low back. Hunching causes a number of low back problems as you’ll soon find out in later blog posts, so don’t forget to subscribe.

Another mistake with the cyclist is that they are on a symmetrical machine peddling with asymmetrical body; one leg works harder than the other or maybe there is a leg length discrepancy or a hip that drops from a mild instability issue. The symmetrical machine is forcing the asymmetrical body into positions and loads it can’t accommodate for causing repetitive motion injuries. If you need help with your cycling posture be sure to visit Tim Gresh over at GreshFit in West Chester PA. GreshFit.com

The same thing can happen for anyone who is active on a regular basis. Your legs may not be getting into that squat pattern the same, or your ankle may not absorb ground re-active forces the same way while running. There are very significant asymmetries that lead to repetitive traumas in your low back leading to low back pain, regardless if you are active or not.


As much as you don’t like pain because of how it impacts your life, pain is your friend. We spend all of our time trying to shut the pain off when the reality is, the pain is your body telling you there is something wrong. The majority of my  patients come into my office explaining that they have received “treatment” for their low back. When we ask them what “treatments” they’ve gotten it’s often a round of pain management including cortisone shots, non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) like Ibuprofen and Tylenol, ultrasound therapy, electrical stimulation or TENS, etc. All of these things are only addressing the inflammation in response to the mechanical problem in your low back.

NONE of them are fixing the problem.

These kinds of “treatments” not only don’t fix the problem, THEY MAKE IT WORSE. Take for example a door that won’t close well. And the reason the door won’t close is because there is a problem with the hinge. But instead of fixing the hinge so the door works the way it was designed, you decide to spray the hinge with WD40. The door will close for a brief period of time but only for as long as the WD40 lasts. So, you WD40 it again and again just to buy time and now you’ve been operating the door in an abnormal way for so long that it breaks.

Shutting off the pain is the same thing, it’s not fixing the problem, it’s just buying you time until it breaks.

Here is a good illustration to drive this point home. Imagine you are in your basement and you hear the fire-alarm go off. You rush upstairs to the kitchen to see what the problem is and you see smoke coming from the oven. Instead of opening the oven and putting the fire out, you reach up to the fire alarm and take out the batteries. Have you solved the problem at all?

That is what you’re doing when you turn pain off with pain modalities or medication. When you take an anti-inflammatory pain medication like ibuprofen or receive a cortisone shot, you are essentially taking the batteries out of your fire-alarm and you have no idea if your kitchen is burning down or not.

Mistake #5: Not Recognizing the Proccess

You’d be surprised how many people come into my office with the slightest of movements that throw them into a complete low back spasm or chronic pain episode. My patients tell us time and again, “I wasn’t doing anything” or “I was just brushing my teeth and I hit the floor” or “I simply reached over to grab my keys and couldn’t get back up.” If this has happened to you, you’re not the only one. And the reason is that low back pain doesn’t typically happen from one traumatic event.

It’s years and years of progressive low force loads that force the low back into positions that compromise the tissue.

Low back pain microtrauma

Ever hear the phrase, “the straw that broke the camel’s back?” It’s not the straw that did it, or reaching over or brushing your teeth. It’s the years of repetitive motion over time that compromised your low back tissue and set you up for the condition you currently have. These are some of the “hidden causes” of low back pain I mentioned before.

Consider this one example among the many “hidden causes” of low back pain. The majority of the population spends hours at a time sitting down. For work, rest, meetings, entertainment, travel, etc. it is the most common thing we do all day, given our lifestyles. Well guess what, God did not design our bodies to be sitting for the majority of the day. We are built for being upright, standing, mobile animals.

Simply put, the body wasn’t made to sit for as long as we do, and that’s why we are seeing more and more cases of low back pain compared to several decades ago.

Sitting down puts a certain pressure on the spine in the low back region that changes the integrity of the tissues. The muscles in the hips dehydrate, get shorter, and tighten up causing even more mechanical problems down the line. The tissue in the back of your legs gets longer as they’re stretched out for longer periods of time causing weakness. And to make it all worse, our posture is impossible to hold for long periods of time. When we get into these unavoidable positions for long periods of time it puts an immense amount of strain on our low back causing microtrauma.

Repetitive microtrauma over time leads to tissue failure and injury.

A recent study was done on posture to see how long is reasonable to expect someone to sit in perfect posture. So, they took a sample size of Olympic athletes, the most conditioned people in the world, and had them sit in perfect posture for as long as they could. What they found was staggering. The most conditioned athletes in the world can’t hold their posture for more than 20 minutes!

No one is expecting John Smith and Jane Doe to hold their posture for hours at a time, it’s simply unreasonable.

Now you have an increased load on your spine in the low back, muscles changing their length creating imbalances in tension and strength, and postural problems developing. The shoulders round out, the head juts forward, the pelvis rotates backwards and the whole spine is now in what I call the “seated fetal position.” You attempt to stand up but your so stiff you can’t even stand upright. Now you’re walking around or even engaging in athletic activity with a postural and mechanical mess, not expecting your low back to hurt!

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 low back pain. But it can also 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 time.

Mistake #6: Believing You’ve Tried Everything

The depression is setting in and you’re exhausted. Your family life is affected, your job is affected, your mood is affected, and you simply can’t take it anymore. All you want to do is find some relief but, in your opinion, you’ve tried it all. The conversation with the surgeon you had a few months ago is starting to sound like your only way out. Or maybe worse, you’ve simply accepted that this is what the rest of your life is going to be and you just have to learn how to live with it.

My heart breaks for these individuals

1) surgery is not your only option, and 2) normal healthy tissue should not hurt, and 3) it is NOT OK that you’re in this much pain. There is hope! And I’m excited to be writing this blog to help you in your journey. If you’re interested in this topic, click here.

Bottom line is it takes someone who cares enough. To spend just a little extra time and identify the root cause of the problem. Sometimes it may not be coming from the low back at all! It could be as odd as your big toe not bending back properly, changing the windlass effect in your foot, effecting how you absorb ground reactive forces, putting extra load into your low back.

This is another one of those “hidden causes” I keep mentioning.

If we can identify the hidden cause of YOUR pain, we can implement an individualized solution specifically for you. There is no magic pain reliever shot, stim machine, or blanket one size fits all treatment protocol that is going to address your individual and unique “hidden cause.” It takes time, attention, and an accurate identification to create a long-term solution for your low back pain.

So, you can forget about all the treatments that are just trying to make the pain go away. Until you’ve attempted to find out what’s causing the pain, you haven’t even scratched the surface of exhausting your options. In this blog, you’re going to learn about several treatments that you’ve probably never even heard of, let alone tried, in attempt to solve your low back pain problem, be sure to to opt in to our email updates. It’s simple and takes a few seconds, just Click Here

Mistake #7: Becoming Dependent

Nearly all of my patients come into my office with the expectation that “I” will make “Them” better. The mistake here is that this is establishing a patient dependence on a provider to fix them. You cannot make the mistake of looking to others to make you well. You are the one in control. And no one is going to care more about your body, your health, and your low back more than you.

In the end, you have to take the steps necessary to solve this problem.

There are actions you need to take to allow your body to heal. I’m here to help you along the way, but you need to be independent when it comes to your low back. Avoid becoming dependent on medications, providers, machines, devices, braces, or anything else that is NEVER going to work in the long run. It’s important to lean on others along the way, but you need to be personally responsible and determined to get rid of the problem. Before you continue reading this blog, ask yourself these questions:

  • Where are you, currently?
    • Are you satisfied with your current condition?
    • How does it make you feel?
  • Where would you like to be?
    • Is there a place where you would feel more satisfied with your condition?
    • What would it mean to you and your family if you reached this place?
    • How would you show up more, in your job, your activities, with your family, if you didn’t have any pain?
  • What are you willing to do to change your current condition?
    • What are you willing to do to be PAIN FREE?
    • And the most important question, What prompts you to say that?
    • Have you identified your “why”?

Identify Your WHY

We’ll talk more about identifying your why a little later on, but I encourage you to really spend some time answering these questions. If you’re ready, and you can adopt the attitude that you are responsible, determined, and committed to being pain free, follow us on Facebook and Subscribe, for updates to this blog.

As you read the following blog posts you’re going to come to an understanding of:

  • what’s causing your low back pain
  • how to stop aggravating it
  • and how to ultimately experience the RELIEF you deserve, once and for all.

For more information contact Dr. Zappy directly at (484) 341.8598 or send him an email at info@wcofcc.com

About the author

Chiropractor in Exton with a Master's Degree in Applied Clinical Nutrition, Board Certification in Physiotherapy, and Biomechanics Expert. I am very passionate about solving pain problems and look forward to helping solve your pain problem today!