Back Pain is the most common complaint brought to doctors in the U.S. and Europe. Over 90 percent of all adults complain of back pain at least once every five years. In a large number of cases, back pain becomes chronic and requires pain medication on a daily basis.
The treatment of back pain uses every modality known to medicine, from acupuncture to surgery. No treatment has ever been found to be totally successful.
WHAT IS BACK PAIN?
The definition of “back pain” eludes medical scientists. Pain which described by the patient as found along the back of the body from the legs to the neck is technically back pain. However, pain in this area can be caused by any organ in the body.
A heart attack or a brain tumor can cause “back pain.” These causes are not what the ordinary person or doctor thinks of when the complaint of “back pain” is discussed.
The term “back pain” is relegated to pain in the area of the back caused by the components of the muscular/skeleton structures of the back and their nerves . Of course, doctors must also consider every other anatomic structure in the back, such as veins, arteries, and, of course, skin structures.
The difficulty in evaluating “back pain” lies in the immense number of causes which tell the patient that his or her “back hurts.” Children, for example, rarely have “back pain.” When a child tells his mom that his “back hurts” there is a high likelihood that the cause is serious.
Tumors and congenital malformations near the back present as “back pain” in a child. The doctor must listen carefully and get the proper images, such as X rays or sonograms to make a good diagnosis. However, for the average adult, “back pain” refers to the structures of the back, like the spinal column, the intervertebral disks, the joints of the spine and all the muscles, ligaments and nerves which surround the spine.
WHAT IS PAIN?
Our nervous system is quite complex, but after centuries of study, we have a good understanding of how it works.
All sensations are conveyed to our brain. The nerves that convey the sensation of pain are located in every part of our body. Some carry the pain message rapidly because they are like insulated wires, and some carry it slower because they lack this special insulation.
Most of the nerves have specialized nerve endings that enhance the ability of perceiving pain. There are over a dozen of these specialized endings.
HOWEVER, WE MUST ALWAYS REMEMBER THAT THE SENSATION OF PAIN BECOMES REAL ONLY IN THE MIND. IN OUR BODIES THERE ARE ONLY ELECTRICAL CHARGES.
The fact that our conscious experience tells us what the pain feels like is extremely important.
Some people feel less pain than the norm. Others feel much more pain than the norm. This all depends on your genetic endowment. Some of us can tolerate pain easily; some cannot tolerate the slightest pain. In all cases, however, there has to be an underlying anatomic cause which stimulates the nerve endings or the nerves themselves.
THIS CAUSE IS SIMPLE: THE NERVE IS DEFORMED. THE NERVE WILL ONLY SEND A MESSAGE IF PRESSURE IS APPLIED TO THE NERVE OR THE ENDING. THIS PRESSURE CAUSES “DEPOLARIZATION” AND THE MESSAGE IS SENT TO THE BRAIN.
“Depolarization” is an electrical change in the nerve. Potassium and Sodium ions change places, and like a row of dominoes, carry the electrical charge to the brain. When that electrical charge reaches the brain, like putting a message in Facebook or Twitter, it goes all over the place. Immediately, we say to ourselves: “Oh, my God, my back really hurts!”
WHAT CAUSES THE PAIN?
There are thousands of causes of pain, back pain or any pain. They all involve deforming the nerve. Almost all of the causes of back pain are not life threatening. However, some are life threatening.
All of the things that kill people can originate in the back. We can find tumors, cysts, malformations of arteries and veins, infections, abscesses, fractures and crazy conditions like “Auto Immune Diseases.”
If you develop strong pain in the back that does not disappear in at least two weeks, go directly to a doctor. If the pain is exceedingly severe, go immediately. These life threatening conditions occur less than five percent of the time.
Remember, if a child develops back pain it is more serious than that of an adult. Children rarely complain of back pain. Most of the back pain of an adult is what I call “structural” in nature.
WHAT IS “STRUCTURAL” BACK PAIN?
Humans are the strange result of an evolutionary process gone haywire.
All our relatives in the family of Mammals travel on four legs. It is quite obvious that we should be doing the same thing. If we did, we would seldom have back pain. Instead, like a group of idiots, we decided we wanted to stick our heads up in the air and travel on our back two legs. This was a big mistake!
If we lived past thirty, the structure called: BACK, almost always told us that it was in pain. The Back Structure had to support 70 percent of the body weight. This support was supplied by the muscles of the back. That is a big job for a few muscles.
SUPPORTING OUR BODY WEIGHT
Little kids do not weigh much in comparison to their adult relatives. Take a look at a little boy playing in the yard. He weighs forty or fifty pounds compared to his adult weight at close to 200 pounds. He runs around like a butterfly; his head held high, his back straight and his eyes glistening. He would never understand the meaning of “Back Pain.”
See the same boy when he is sixty. He is frowning in pain, bent forward, moving slowly as he tries to keep his two hundred pounds of muscle and fat from falling to the ground. He complains daily of “back Pain.”
We can see readily that the Back Structure is the crucial element in supporting the body. The more stress applied to the Back Structure, the more pain is felt.
WHAT CAUSES “STRESS TO THE BACK”?
Gravity is the ONLY cause of Stress to the Back Structure. If we had no weight, if we could float, we would never complain of back pain. Unfortunately, God did not plan it that way.
The underlying forces of the Universe dictate that Gravity is necessary for the Universe to remain together. There is gravity, and we must fight against it.
A side note:
All living things are confronted with the fact that they must expend energy in order to survive. Non living things Conserve Energy and they are thrown around the Universe in a form of Chaos. Living things expend energy and they develop a pattern of Order.
ORDER EQUALS LIFE. CHAOS EQUALS DEATH.
If you remember this formula, you can reduce or eliminate your back pain and also improve your experience of life.
FIGHTING AGAINST GRAVITY
It is obvious that if we want to fight against the Force of Gravity, we must expend energy.
In terms of our Back Structure, the simplest method of combating the Force of Gravity is through the process of maintaining Good Posture.
Posture is a word that is poorly understood by most people. Posture has the word Position built into it. Good Posture means Good Position. If we think of our young boy running around the yard, we can easily see what we mean by Good Position…
The little boy has his head erect, his back straight up and vertical, and his total weight over the Center of Gravity. He glides along effortlessly because he uses less energy in this position than if his upper body were bent forward or sideways.
(Right now, you are probably bent forward as you read. Straighten up and feel the difference.)
When we lean forward, right or left, we suddenly find ourselves using more energy as the muscles that oppose this leaning are forced to work against a new lever that we have created.
This additional work by the muscles that support our body against the pull of gravity ultimately provoke pain, as the muscle fibers tire and begin to swell. The swelling causes deformation of the nerves which in turn sends messages to our brain.
If we continue in Poor or Bad Posture, the overworked muscle fibers become inflamed and more swelling ensues. The additional swelling deforms the nerves more and a vicious cycle of swelling and pain comes into being. I call this “Structural Back Pain.” The cause is Bad Posture, not arthritis or “slipped disks”.
HOW TO PREVENT BAD POSTURE
A little over a Century ago, on the Island of Tasmania, off the coast of Australia, a boy was born called F. MATTHIAS ALEXANDER.
Alexander was a precocious child. His parents recognized his inborn talents and took him out of public school in order that he might have the advantages of private training. Within a few years, he developed a love for Shakespeare and determined to be a Shakespearean actor.
He was poor, but a hard worker. He kept after his dream of becoming a Shakespearean actor, but encountered a relentless problem: His breathing was inappropriate for the special intonation needed for delivering the verses of Shakespeare.
However, Alexander did not give up… He consulted specialists, voice trainers and doctors. No one could help him. He decided to solve his problem by himself. He set up rows of tall mirrors around his body and watched himself as he recited.
Slowly, he began to realize what his problem entailed. His posture was not the ideal posture of a man who was trying to voice the beautiful words of Shakespeare. In order to convey this poetry effectively, Alexander realized that he had to have a mental concept of the ideal person that Shakespeare envisioned.
That ideal person was related to an ideal spiritual world. In this Spiritual World, the beautiful poetry of Shakespeare was natural and appropriate. From this Mental Concept emerged the realization that the shape and posture of the body were intrinsically involved. Posture is the human physical representation of a Spiritual World. The Spiritual World stands in contrast to the non-living chaotic Physical World.
As Alexander made this realization, he developed a technique for achieving perfect posture and thereby overcame his inability to perform successfully as a Shakespearean actor. Alexander recorded his theory in four books.
Alexander, an unknown artist from the Island of Tasmania, became world famous. The world’s most talented people came to him for advice and treatment. His Technique, The Alexander Technique, is used today in every country in the world. Although its primary function is to improve speech, it is used more widely to reduce or eliminate Back Pain.
The Alexander Technique of Posture is the only method known to medical science that has been shown, in many studies, to reduce or eliminate back pain.
THE ALEXANDER TECHNIQUE
The Alexander Technique, like Freudian Psycho-analysis, is learned by a one on one process. The Trainer must take years of instruction and then complete a vigorous test before being accredited to teach the Alexander Technique.
As a consequence, the cost of learning the technique is high. However, since the technique actually cures back pain, many governments are now paying trainers to teach the Technique to patients who have not responded to other modalities.
Any research on the Internet using the Alexander Technique will produce millions of hits.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
The average person with back pain, probably has a Structural Defect caused by bad posture. Since few of us have the time and money to learn and pay for the Alexander Technique, I suggest the following:
- Develop a mental concept of yourself in the Universe. If you pay attention to the details of your own body and the Universe around you, you will realize that you are a spiritual being and not a piece of clay.
- As a spiritual being, you must keep your head high and your body erect, as you would presume any citizen of any spiritual world would do. If you do this, you will notice immediately a loss of weight and a reduction of your pain.
Refine your posture day by day, and over time, the back pain will disappear.