Dorsopathy is the technical medical term for back pain. Dorso (from the Latin dorsum) means back, and pathy means feeling, suffering, or disease (from the Greek pathos/patheia). The linguistic history of back pain is irrelevant, since the suffering is universal.
You can call back pain by any name you choose (I can think of a few four letter ones myself), but this rose will not smell any sweeter. The thorns of this particular rose will be there, no matter what it is called.
This explorative essay provides a first-hand glimpse at the unparalleled suffering of chronic back pain.
What is Dorsopathy?
Medical science has prospered by diagnosing a vast number of suspected physical causes for common back pain. Doctors will have you believe that the millions of years of human evolution that created the spine were wasted. Suddenly, in the last 70 or so years, it all went wrong.
What created this deficit of physical spinal ability to perform in exactly the same manner as countless generations before us?
Why has the modern spine become such a problem?
Humans have always faced the possibility of serious back injury. Now, in the modern age of automobiles, this reality is greater than ever. We have truly mastered the technology that is required to decimate our spines during traumatic accidents.
Back injury is a real cause of pain. Many patients are in treatment for injuries received during some form of trauma. The good thing about physical injuries is that they generally respond well to treatment and will often heal 100%.
Long-term chronic back pain, due to injury, is still a low statistic compared to other forms of diagnosed pain.
Degenerative processes have always been part of the human spinal condition. Our spinal bones, discs, and soft tissues have suffered from usage and age since the first humans walked the Earth. Of course, we live much longer now, but the degenerative effects are balanced by the relative ease of life compared to thousands of years ago.
Modern medicine has also had a positive effect on our general physical health. Add to this the incidence of “degeneration-related” pain being statistically far more common in ages 26 to 60 than in the elderly and something seems really wrong.
Psychological back pain is the greatest diagnostic failure of the modern medical establishment. Most doctors either deny the existence of psychosomatic pain, or are ill equipped to diagnose and treat it. Combine this fact with the clinical evidence that many common back ache is either caused or perpetuated by the emotions, and you can understand why we have a rampant epidemic of back pain.
Using the aforementioned ancient linguistic word roots, the correct name for these cases of back pain would be psychopathy. This indicates a problem with the mind, not the body. I will refrain from using this term, since no patient wants or deserves to be called a psychopath…
Millions of years of evolution have not failed us. Our collective spines are strong and healthy, rugged and resilient. It is the mind that has continued to evolve and become more and more complicated. I am often quoted as describing humans as the over-evolved species.
We have become more mentally complicated than is healthy for our bodies. We must accept this integration of mind, body, and spirit and use the combined power of all to create a state of optimum health.
Medical science will not get the upper hand against dorsalgia until it acknowledges this simple fact: The mind and the body are both responsible for health and disease, injury and recovery, life and death. Some patients who have learned this are among the minority that have discovered a true cure for their pain. I counted myself incredibly lucky to be part of that small and thankful group until my own pain returned to haunt me once again later in life.
Of course, not all back ache is psychogenic. Many cases are purely structural and some are a combination of mind and body. However, being that there is already so much written about the body, I thought I would focus this article on the equally important, but seldom discussed mind, and how it can cause, perpetuate and worsen pain without even a hint of suspicion.