80% of people will experience lower back pain at some during their lives. Some of us have a genetic pre-disposition to lower back pain and it definitely runs in my family. Every year or two I have a bout that sets me back, that happened to me in January.
What to do? I have a lot of faith in modern medicine and am not one of those people who avoid doctors like the plague, I believe in yearly physicals and going to the doctor when it is warranted. When it comes to lower back pain though, from my experience, Voodoo is just as effective as modern medicine and all its high-tech imaging and surgical advances. In my experience, people who have had back surgery never are happy with the results. Read this excellent report from NPR on back pain, if you don’t believe me. MRIs show many alarming problems with the spine, trouble is, its unlikely that they are the cause of the pain which is why operating on them does not make the pain go away. Its time to stop worshiping the MRI.
I believe that medically supervised physical therapy and core strengthening should be the FIRST line of defense before ever considering surgical options for back pain. Many people seem to put all their faith in surgery and only make half hearted attempts at physical therapy before hand. They go to all their appointments but neglect to do the exercises the doctor specifies on the off days.
Anyway, as I mentioned, I have had problems since January. As usual, no idea what triggered it but it makes many things challenging. I practice what I preach though, ever since January I have been seriously working my core and stretching hamstrings. I have been doing my rotisserie core workout and when that wasn’t challenging enough, I started doing it using a suspension trainer. I have been doing 20-30 minutes of core work two to three times a week since January. My core looks better but more importantly, its stronger. Not that my core is ever weak because I always do core at least once a week but now its an I-beam :) I also find that “non-specific back exercise” helps immensely, things like running. Seems counter-intuitive but it works for me and it seems to work for others as well. The days of bed-rest as the prescription for back pain are long over!
Just to be clear here, I am not just picking on western style back surgery. In my opinion, chiropractic treatment, acupuncture, and all those other althernative medical solutions to back pain are just as ineffective unless its placebo effect you are after. In my opinion, if you want to fix your back pain, YOU have to assume an active role rather than the role of passive patient. Healing requires a lot of work on YOUR part. As attractive as the idea is of walking into an expensive doctors office and being instanly healed is, its not going to happen in my experience.