The (Unexpected) Solution To Back Pain

Back pain is, unfortunately, a terribly common issue among American’s today.

The common treatment solution over the years has often led to spinal fusion surgery in the hope that eliminating a certain range of motion would decrease pain because the assumption was that the degeneration of the disc is the source of the pain. However, according to Dr. David Hanscom, a Seattle orthopedic surgeon, this is not the case. Dr. Mercola writes,

“‘Disc degeneration actually does not cause back pain. That’s been well-documented,’ Dr. Hanscom says.

“‘The success rate of the spinal fusion for back pain was about 24 percent, but we still kept doing it. Then, in 1994, when this paper came out Washington showing that the return-to-work rate one year after a spinal fusion for back pain was 15 percent, I just stopped.

“‘Every paper since then has showed pretty much the same dismal results; there’s maybe a 20 to 25 percent success rate of spinal fusion for back pain…

“‘And the downside of a failed spine surgery is terrible. It’s really bad. These people are condemned to live their entire lifetime, 30 to 40 more years, in chronic pain.'”

Interestingly enough, Dr. Hanscom says that surgery for degenerative discs is not the solution for either back or neck pain. He believes that there are three necessary parts for treatment of back pain:

  1. “Learning about the mechanics of chronic pain and understanding that it’s a neurological disorder
  2. “Treating all the variables simultaneously. This includes sleep, stress, medication, nutrition, mental outlook on life, and physical conditioning. ‘There’s never one answer for chronic pain. People say, “I tried a chiropractor, it didn’t work.” Well, that could help 10 percent, but if you’re not sleeping, it’s not going to work. You have to combine modalities to get better,”he says. “Sleep is No. 1. The entire project is null and void unless you’re sleeping’
  3. “Taking control of your own care. For example, for some people chiropractic or acupuncture may be very helpful, whereas it may not work for others. You need to take an active role in determining what’s best for you, and pursue treatments that work in your case”

He also integrates active self-treatment of stress through expressive writing exercises and active meditation and has seen impressive results including a man, a Ph.D. scientist, who, after only three days of the expressive writing exercises experienced an 80% reduction in pain and has been pain-free for a year.

The takeaway for many people for this issue, aside from the three specific components that Dr. Hanscom advocates, is to realize that repression of emotions and mismanagement of stress are toxic to the physical body, and that, by handling these issues, your level of well-being, including physical health, can radically improve.