Lower back pain has been described by some doctors as the most painful condition a person could possibly experience in their life. For millions of patients with severe chronic lumbar back pain, this statement rings loud and true.
As a fellow patient myself, I can attest to the fact that my pain was unimaginably and indescribably torturous to endure. The agony controlled my life, my abilities, my functionality, my attitude, my hopes for the future and my views of the past. For me, and millions like me, back pain became the most influential force in life.
I learned the very definition of misery in dealing with my lower back pain for decades now. My successes and failures in treatment have taught me much, but I would trade all this knowledge for a bit of lasting relief. My symptoms brought me to the breaking point and tested my resolve to survive more than anything else I ever endured. I will never forget the horror and helplessness of the most acute attacks and know exactly how all of you feel as you are reading this trying to cope with your own personal hell.
There is no denying that the lumbar spine must work harder than the other spinal regions. It must carry a huge burden of weight under tremendous stress throughout a full range of motion. It must bend and flex constantly, also under the load of stress.
The degenerative processes are typically found here in their most noticeable forms, including disc desiccation, osteoarthritis and a variety of bulging or herniated disc pathologies. Luckily, the lumbar spine is built for such abuse and research shows that degeneration here is completely normal and does not correlate to the incidence of lower back pain. This comes as a real shock to most patients!
Some patients do suffer with purely anatomically-motivated pain in the lower back. This usually comes from some manner of significant injury, but may also be the result of extreme degenerative processes in less common circumstances.
However, patients are warned that just because they have some abnormality discovered in their lumbar spines, this does not in any way guarantee that the irregularity might cause or even contribute to any symptoms. In fact, recent alterations to diagnostic guidelines in the orthopedic sector have cautioned doctors not to assume that any of the typical spinal abnormalities found on diagnostic imaging are the source of chronic pain. This is certainly a big step forward in an often backwards medical industry.
Lower back pain consists of many different types of symptomatic expressions. We have expanded our coverage of lower back issues to include the following dedicated discussions:
Lumbago is an antiquated diagnosis that is seldom used today.
Sacralization describes a natural fusion between the lowest lumbar vertebra and the sacrum.
Low back ache might be spinal or muscular, but is always terrible to endure.
Lumbar back pain is focused in the last 5 truly independent vertebrae in the backbone.
Lower back spasm is the definitive pinnacle of suffering for patients.
Low back relief is statistically very difficult to enact for most people with long lasting symptoms.
The causes of low back pain vary greatly and this diversity can make positive diagnosis a tricky proposition.
What causes low back pain? This is a question that must be answered in order to enjoy a cure.
Low back pain symptoms may include far more frightening expressions than just discomfort. Neurological expressions might also be present, even when pain is absent.
Lower back pain treatment is the most profitable of all dorsalgia specialties. Ironically, treatment is known to be highly ineffectual for many patients.
Low back pain exercises are a form of conservative care that might help manage pain and minimize functional deficits.
Posterior ramus syndrome is a specific type of neurological pain disorder that affects the lower spinal structures.
Back pain in the kidneys can be a frightening condition that makes many patients fear organ damage exists instead of simple dorsalgia.
Lower back pain when looking down establishes a connection between flexion of the neck and the expression of lumbar symptoms.
Burning in the lower back can be frightening, but is usually a symptom associated with muscular causation.
The epidemic of lumbar back pain is a fairly recent event. Throughout history, there is little evidence of large numbers of patients complaining of treatment resistant back pain. In the last 50 years, the incidence of lumbar back pain has simply grown out of control. Back pain is the #1 reason for a person to miss work. Back pain is the #2 reason for a person to visit a doctor. These statistics are frightening and nonsensical.
Why have our collective lower backs suddenly gone so wrong after millions of years of evolutionary development? This is a question posed by Dr. John Sarno throughout his prolific writings on the subject of chronic pain.
It has been said by many philosophers and religious leaders that life here on Earth is actually our trial; our hell. There is a promise of paradise in the next life, since all of our suffering is done here in this physical existence. I spent many hours pondering this idea since back pain seemed like such a cruel and inhumane punishment to endure. I wonder if these innovators of thought and doctrine also suffered from horrific back pain.
Learn the answer to the common question: "Does sitting cause low back ache?"
Medical science supposes that almost all low back pain is caused by some abnormal spinal condition. This is called the Cartesian philosophy, since it mimics the ideas propagated by René Descartes, mainly that the mind and body are two completely different and fully independent entities.
Medicine has developed hundreds of diagnoses and thousands of treatments for a variety of suspected problematic conditions. It is ironic that the more medicine has claimed a better understanding of why chronic back pain occurs, the more patients have begun to experience symptoms.
Every year, more patients develop lumbar back pain and enter long-term treatment programs than are ever cured of their painful symptoms. There are simply far more patients that continue to suffer than there are patients who ever fully recover. This is an unacceptable statistic. It is also an incredibly frightening fact for the countless patients who are struck down with severe pain and hope so desperately for some relief.
If medical science is so sure of the physical reasons for back pain, how come they can do so little to cure it? How come they can barely control the symptoms using powerful pain management drugs and allow the underlying cause to remain untreated? How come back pain has become an epidemic condition with no sign of slowing down or ending?
Learn more about the many treatment for low back pain options.
Doctors traditionally discount the role of the mind in the creation of physical symptoms, even though the mindbody interaction has been well documented in science. This is one of the main reasons for the extreme propagation of unresolved back pain syndromes. All the treatments in the world will not cure psychologically induced pain if the therapies are directed at a misdiagnosed cause, such as a spinal irregularity.
Back pain is just the latest in a historical series of potential psychosomatic conditions. Most doctors now realize the power of the mind in all matters of health and disease and have integrated mindbody therapies into their normal practices. However, it is still not enough for many patients to see the benefits yet. As medicine evolves, it will eventually discover and publicize the role of the mind in the creation of many ongoing back ache syndromes and a new psychosomatic pain syndrome will take over as new king of the hill.
Back pain replaced stomach ulcers as the most common psychogenic pain expression. Prior to that existed rheumatism and hysteria. What will take over for back pain? Who knows, but it will happen, unless medical science learns to think outside the box when it comes to the subconscious mind and its power over the physical body. Medicine needs to stop equating the mindbody connection to one pain syndrome at a time and realize that the mind and body work hand in hand in all things human. Once this is an accepted part of medical training for new physicians, then and only then will the epidemic of mindbody conditions finally cease.
Of course, this is not to say that low back symptoms can not be sourced by completely physical structural issues, since it certainly can! However, in these cases, the lower back pain diagnosis is usually correct, treatment is usually successful and the patient can recover without impediment. Does this describe the average case of lumbar pain that you know of or might even suffer from yourself?
The back pain industry continues to develop new and profitable treatments even though curative results are generally poor. No one seems to question the abysmal statistics of most back pain treatments and surgeries. Patients and society just seem to accept these failures as part of our suffering condition. Doctors are trying to help and for that, I give them credit. However, I do not give them a free pass concerning medicine’s profit-driven motivations, symptomatic treatment methods or failure to adequately recognize mindbody interaction as a source of symptoms in many patients.
The time for a paradigm shift in the attitude of physical medicine has arrived. The future of medical science lies in eliminating antiquated myths and therapy approaches from the back care sector. The future will also hopefully feature less symptomatic treatment money-making and more emphasis on providing cures. In a perfect world, the future will not be filled with the side effects of dangerous drugs and unnecessary surgical nightmares.
Unfortunately, in the present, we continue to hope, to wish, to suffer.
Continue reading to learn more about low back pain.