What’s the cause of low back pain? As a chiropractor, I have been asking this question for at least the 18 years that I have been in practice. Many people come into my office with this complaint. For some reason, the chiropractic profession seems to have been bequeathed this piece of the healthcare pie, at least in the eyes of the public. Most medical doctors are happy to refer their low back pain patients to a competent chiropractor, since their medical sheath contains mainly muscle relaxants and pain killers. With emphasis on drugs and surgery, I don’t see any alleviation of the problem. And in fact, I think back pain and its effects on job and wellbeing are only getting worse. We are in the middle of an Opiate fiasco, given the money and attention paid to low back surgery and pain killers over the past 25 years.
I am currently reading the book “Sapiens” by Yuval Noah Harari. It provides an interesting anthropological take on this subject. Humans as various races have been around for at least 2 million years. And Homo Sapiens have been in the game for at least 45,000 years. What distinguished us was that we have a larger cranium, more dexterous hands, and walk on two legs. One theory is that we “stood up” in order to better survey the savanna, to see danger sooner. But this came at a cost. “Adjusting to an upright position was quite a challenge, especially when the scaffolding had to support an extra-large cranium. Humankind paid for its lofty vision and industrious hands with backaches and stiff necks.” We spent most of our evolutionary time roaming as hunters and gatherers, and the past 12,000 years (a modest amount of time in the grand scheme of things) in more stationary dwellings. The past 200 years brought us the industrial revolution, where we were now doing the same repetitive movements daily. The past 40 years have put us behind a computer all day, and in front of a TV all evening! And the past 20 years have put our gaze more and more into the palm of our hands, with the advent of first the cell phone and then the smart phone and iPad. Picture less and less movement and more neck and low back forward bending.
I am trained to address the body holistically, looking at the effects of structure, biochemistry, emotion and stress. I use functional and reflex muscle testing to assess proper alignment, function, movement patterns, as well as the effects and roles of the meridian system in the fascia. That last point is interesting in that I often find an emotional component to low back pain. Stress effects the fight-flight response which in turn effects the digestive system which in turn affects the breathing mechanism and the Musculo-Skeletal system. I call this a Viscero-Somatic response, where the gut affects the muscles.
I will be blogging about many of the topics I just brought up, and more. I also invited several colleagues to chime in, including a Nutritional Response Test practitioner and a German-trained Naturopath, Nurse and acupuncturist. The former practitioner shares an office in Innate Chiropractic. I will also be including articles from our resident massage therapist, one of our yoga teachers and our personal trainer / functional rehab therapist. I am excited to be starting not so much an interdisciplinary conversation on this important topic and hope that you will benefit from what we all have to share.
Enjoy the ride!