In a 1991 study published in The New England Journal of Medicine the author, Dr. Richard A. Deyo states that up to 85 percent of back pain cases have no definitive diagnosis (1). In this final installment of the Back Pain Basics Series we are taking a look at why so many cases of back pain go undiagnosed and why your doctor may not have all the answers needed to find a solution to your back pain.
One popular ‘theory’ if you like as to why so many cases of back pain go undiagnosed is that the pain is caused by imbalances in the body that can be wide-spread and traditional back pain diagnosis methods only deal with the area where the pain originates from. For example, it may be that you have a short leg due to a muscle imbalance in your back or tight muscles in that leg, which can result in uneven hips, which as you can imagine will put your spine in a position that it’s not designed to operate in and before you know it you have back pain.
Although there is a lot more to it than my ultra-simplified example above, you can probably see how looking at the body as a whole rather than just concentrating on where the pain is originating from has it’s merits. If the fictitious person in our example above (we’ll call him Bob!) was able to address his imbalances and short leg and therefore realign his spine do you think that Bob would continue to suffer from back pain?
To further illustrate this point we will let Bob take a well-earned break and I would like to look at my own situation for a moment. For the majority of my adult life I have worked as a motor mechanic. Back pain is a bit of an occupational hazard when you’re leaning over cars all day but I didn’t really have a problem until I started working for myself. When it’s up to you to make ends meet at the end of every month self-preservation is often pretty low on the to-do list and looking back now I can see where things went wrong.
The muscles in my back were being constantly stretched and strained, day in day out, and now I have very little strength when bending over and the pain from these muscles when they are pushed even a little bit is incredible. Because I don’t have a solid, medically diagnosed reason for my pain (other than a bulging disc that they won’t do anything about) logic tells me that all my problems are derived from misalignment and imbalances from these over-used and abused erector spinae muscles. I am now working through a program to correct these issues.
If your back pain is not the result of an injury or you are having a hard time getting any concrete answers about the cause of your back pain you might just find that this theory of imbalances and treating the body as a whole is the answer you have been looking for. In the coming days I am going to compile some more information on this subject and also post a detailed review of the program that I am using at the moment. Please stay tuned!