I recently had the opportunity to interview author and back pain specialist Dr. Christina Lasich. High Heels to Hormones: A Woman's Guide to Spine Care is the latest literary offering from Dr. Lasich.
Dr. Lasich has practiced in the area of spine rehabilitation for more than 10 years and is an award-winning graduate from the University of California, Davis School of Medicine. Although she focuses on back, neck and other musculoskeletal injuries, she also meets the rehabilitative needs of people with spinal cord injuries, strokes, traumatic brain injuries, muscular dystrophies, ALS, multiple sclerosis, amputations and other painful conditions.
Hi Dr. Lasich, I appreciate your time spent answering these questions for the readers of Cure-Back-Pain.Org.
Q: How do you rate back pain in terms of frequency of occurrence in today’s society? Is the condition a rising trend or a declining trend?
A: Spine pain is a trend that has afflicted human society throughout time, today it is the most common reason people access healthcare. Women definitely have a higher prevalence of spine pain. These gender differences are just now being discovered as more researchers become focused on the differences between men and women.
Q: Can you describe a typical back pain patient?
A: During the peak of my back pain experience, I was the typical angry victim of back pain. After going through the epidurals, the physical therapy and the MRI, I knew that I ultimately needed to choose recovery. On that road of recovery, I discovered the missing link, not only was I in pain—I was a woman in pain. I was and am a woman in pain.
Q: What special circumstances might make a woman more disposed to developing back pain?
A: As a woman, you have different stress points and bodily
functions that require special attention. Are you large breasted? Do you
have poorly fitting bras? Do you have high-heeled shoes? Just think
about pregnancy and the changes that your body goes through to have a
baby, being a woman can be a pain in the back.
Q: What do you recommend women do to avoid back pain now and later in life?
A: In High Heels to Hormones, you will learn the importance of the three D’s: Depressurize you and your life, Desensitize you and the nerves, and Develop good support and habits.
Q: What treatment modalities do you embrace and for which particular conditions?
A: I embrace good health, addressing gender differences, and being a survivor. As unique as all of you women are, there are treatments that work for all of you, as long as you understand the female spine.
Q: Are there any treatments you do not care for?
A: Many women go to doctors offices and walk out without relief. The problem is that gender-generic advice for the masses that has not kept up with the reality of this gender-specific problem in the spine.
Q: How do you feel about symptomatic back pain treatment? How do you feel about long term pharmaceutical back pain management?
A: All treatments need to address the person—the whole person, man or woman.
Q: Are you familiar with the work of Dr. John Sarno? If so, how do you feel about the field of mind/body medicine as it applies to back pain?
A: The problem with “mind/body” medicine is in the title itself. The “/” creates the unnatural separation or dichotomy between mind and body that does not exist because we are people, not mind and body. Medicine is for the whole person. The integration of modalities should be seamless as it is in chapter after chapter of High Heels to Hormones. Please refer to High Heels to Hormones for references about this concept.
Q: What are your thoughts on non-surgical spinal decompression, such as the Vax-D, DRX9000 or AccuSpina systems?
A: You will learn in the last chapter called “Triple D’s for Spine Care” that depressurizing the spine does not have to be an expensive endeavor.
Q: How do you feel about surgical interventions for back pain? Which procedures are particularly interesting to you? How about your thoughts on artificial intervertebral disc replacement versus traditional open surgery, such as laminectomy or spinal fusion?
A: Surgery is a last resort unless you have progressive nerve damage. I always tell patients, “With surgery there is a risk of your condition getting worse, but you can always find a surgeon willing to operate.” Furthermore, new technology does not mean better technology. So far, there is nothing in the medical literature that clearly supports disc replacement arthroplasty over fusion. Ultimately, nothing is magical about surgery or medications; that is why High Heels to Hormones focuses on spine health. Health can be magical.
Q: How would you rate the back pain industry as a whole?
A: Many people have looked to capitalize on the pain of individuals since the beginning of human history; ultimately, the choice for recovery is up to you, the individual. You can decide to exercise, quit smoking, eat more nutritiously, adjust your bra, wear flat shoes that do not misalign your spine, carry lighter purses, refuse hormones, and lead a balanced life. The choice is yours.
Thank you to Dr. Lasich for taking the time to answer a few of these questions for the site’s readers. I wish you well with your book and your practice in general. It is always nice when a doctor opens up the door to her industry and allows the patient to have a look inside.
Unfortunately, some of the key questions asked to the doctor were either not directly answered or referenced to a specific section of her book. At this time, I do not have a copy of her book and am awaiting a review copy. After reading it, I will follow up on this article to fill you in on what I thought of the book, especially in relation to the questions which were not answered to my satisfaction.
I received a copy of High Heels to Hormones just yesterday and read it immediately. The book is a short read and most of you will finish it in less than an hour for sure. It is very cute with little cartoons and text on the opposing page, each covering a particular topic. It is very easy reading indeed.
I found most of the book to be useful, but found it difficult to believe that many of the suggestions were not simply common sense. Maybe some people really do not know the basics of preventing back pain, but I think most of us have these aspects covered. If you are not sure how to prevent pain, then this book will certainly give you some easy pointers.
I like some of the ideas that Dr. Lasich includes about how the emotional state can affect the physical body. However, I feel there is still way too much emphasis placed on the old tired stereotypes of structurally induced back pain. This we have all heard a million times before. Additionally, Dr. Lasich describes herself as a person who suffers from back pain. I assume this means she still has the pain, which does not speak much to the healing capacity of some of her suggestions. If I got this part wrong, then it is my mistake. It just seems the book advises much, but if it does not work for her, how can it work for me or you?
All in all, I liked the book. Don’t allow my critical nature to throw you off too much. I wish I could have seen better evidence of how her methods actually work for people. There is simply no proof given, not even in her own painful case.
The biggest problem with this book really affects almost all the books of this genre. Many of the suggestions are preventative in nature, but will never be read until after someone has pain. That is why people buy and read these books... because they have pain already. If half the advice is saying, “Well, you should have done this before…” My answer is, "Well, how is this going to help me now?"
Once again, this is not a criticism, just an observation. Go buy the book. It is short, adorable and cheap. You will like it.