Part 2 of: The Myths About Low Back Pain
Myth #2 of The Three Myths of Low Back Pain:
Myth that The Current Pain Isn’t Related to Previous Bouts
Have you had low back pain a few months ago? Since then it sort of went away, and now your low back seems to be bothering you. What are the chances that these two events, although separated by a decent amount of time, are actually related?
My patients come into the office all the time telling me about their current low back pain complaint. As we go through the intake process the patient is always concerned about their current condition. And rightfully so, they are clearly in pain. However, an interesting thing happens as we go through the intake process while trying to discover the root cause of their problem.
I always ask ALL of my patients, “Have you ever experienced anything like this before?” Most of the time patients will respond with, ” Yeah, a few years ago my low back hurt, I went to my doctor, he said it was nothing, gave me some pain meds and it went away.” I generally follow up with, “Interesting, what happened? Can you tell me more?” The patient is so convinced that the pain is not related there is always resistance when we try and investigate what might be causing their recurrent bouts of pain. Finally, after some more digging I’ll discover some traumatic event that occurred in the past, sometimes decades ago, that was NEVER treated. The patient will tell me, “Well, I did get in a car accident about 12 years ago.” Or, “Well, I broke my ankle’s when I was 15.” I usually don’t even have to ask this question but I do for the patient’s benefit…
“Did you get treated?”
Come to find out the patient 9 times out of 10 got a minimal amount of treatment, sometimes NO treatment, and the problem was never fixed in the first place. Then the patient explains how they have just had this great epiphany, and how it all makes sense, and how they’re just realizing that they’ve had pain OFF and ON ever since that time, so on and so forth.
Now, you don’t necessarily have to have some traumatic incident to create a long term episodic pain problem in your low back. This can happen from a variety of causes, which we’ll get into in later posts during this blog series. So make sure you subscribe to our Facebook page for updates. You can always check back at wcofcc.com/the-end-of-low-back-pain as or Subscribe for email updates.
Triggers or Causes
The reason recurring low back pain problems are so often attributed to something that is not the cause of their pain is because there was some significant event that happened more recently, suggesting that is the “new” cause. Well, not really. These events are actually just triggers of a problem that’s been there for a long time. The cause is often something else entirely. In fact, you can have the same low back pain problem be aggravated by different triggers! Let me explain.
I want you to imagine a room that is filled with flammable gas. A very dangerous situation, no doubt, but to stress the point, the gas is the source of the danger. Would you agree?
Now, within that room filled with this flammable gas there is a match that is lit. BOOM! Or how about within that room filled with this flammable gas there is a static cling that makes the smallest spark. BOOM! Or how about the room is so filled with this flammable gas and the gas has become so dense, that the ring of a cell phone creates a spark within the motherboard of the phone. BOOM!
Whether it’s the match, a static cling, a cell phone motherboard… it doesn’t matter, they are all just triggers to the actual problem; which is a room filled with flammable gas. In all of these scenarios the trigger is not the source! While triggers, and different triggers at that, can make a problem manifest itself, they are not the cause of the problem.
Let’s say you make your home owner’s claim, fix your house, and get everything back to “normal” but never fix the gas problem. How many times would take you to blow your house up to finally decide it’s time to look at WHY the room keeps blowing up and stop blaming the matches, static, and cell phones in your house? Anyone can see how it would be more valuable to find out where the gas is coming from to solve this problem.
It’s the same with your low back pain
Once you have the gas leaking out in a region of your body, in our case the low back, any number of things can throw you into an explosive bout of low back pain. Patients often come into my office saying things like, “I was just brushing my teeth and I hit the floor!” or, “I simply reached for the keys and I couldn’t stand up straight,” or the most confusing, “I wasn’t doing anything, I just went into spasm.”
Bottom line is the event that put you into your situation of low back pain was NOT THE CAUSE! It was simply the trigger that sparked the problem that was there all along. If you really want to stop your recurring bouts of low back pain, the first thing you need to do is understand that these episode are likely related. Think back to some traumatic event you may, or may not, have had. This information will help as you try and solve this problem. Even if you truly don’t have a traumatic event, that helps as well, as you’ll see the more we continue in this blog series.
It’s time to stop blaming the triggers and time to start finding the true cause of your low back pain problem. If you need help, we’re always here to lend a helping hand. Feel free to call my office at The Wellness Center of Chester County in Exton PA at (484) 341-8598 and ask for Dr. Zappy. I look forward to helping you solve your pain problem. Stay tuned for the next post in this series, The End of Low Back Pain. Subscribe for updates Here.