Osteopathy - Rehabilitation - Lifestyle - Performance - Your Personal Back Pain Specialist
Frequently Asked Questions About Back Pain  
Why does back pain develop? 
There can be many reasons for back pain to develop, including injuries, repetitive strain, faulty posture and muscle imbalances, through to referred pain from shoulder, hip, knee and ankle dysfunction.  In the vast majority of cases, the onset of back pain is insidious and is the result of long term and repetitive faulty movement patterns. 
The most common denominator in the development of back pain is a combination of spinal joint misalignment, nerve irritation and instability which leads to protective reflex muscle spasm.

How Does Stress Affect Back Pain?

Pain messages are created through the interaction between the soft tissue structures of the body and the brain and nervous system. Wherever there is injury or dysfunction in the soft tissues (muscles, tendons, ligaments etc), the nervous system becomes more active in those areas in an attempt to protect the body from further injury or damage. 

When the stress response is increased for any reason eg mental, emotional or even physical trauma, then the nervous system increases tension throughout the body which also increases the protective reflex spasm in the areas of injury or dysfunction. This has the effect of increasing pain in those already activated tissues.  This can become established and lead to the vicious cycle of "pain-spasm-pain" that is recognised by scientists and the medical profession.

In simpler terms, when stress increases, pain also tends to increase, especially in areas where there are ongoing problems.  Stress can also be a triggering factor for acute episodes of pain.

Please see the 3D-Biomechanics page here for further explanation and examples.
What is the best treatment for back pain? 
The best treatment for back pain is to correct the underlying cause for its development.  In many cases the pain is the body's way of telling you that there is a mechanical dysfunction and unless this is properly diagnosed and corrected, no amount of medications or surgery will provide a lasting cure.  See the page 3D-Biomechanics for a better understanding of one of the most common causes of back pain and dysfunction.

My back hurts when I exercise, should I stop?
Back pain is your body's way of telling you something is wrong with the mechanics of your body or the "biomechanics" as we specialists call it.  Most pain comes from muscles and nerves and is a result of misalignment, instability and muscle imbalance.  
If your back hurts when you exercise it suggests that you need to improve muscle balance and stability.  You should correct this type of situation with specifically recommended exercises from your specialist before continuing with general exercise.
How can I avoid back pain as I get older?
Although back pain is by no means confined to older people, it does seem to become more prevalent as we get older.  The most important factors in maintaining a strong and healthy spine as we age are posture, flexibility and strength.
If we spend most of our time sitting in cars, at desks or in front of the TV, then all of these 3 factors will be affected in a negative way.  The result of years of sitting badly is faulty posture, tight muscles and general weakness.
As we get older, we need to take more care in maintaining our spinal health.  Just as you regularly take your car to the garage for servicing, I always recommend a regular visit to your back pain specialist for a check up and service.  Your back pain specialist should be able to teach you how to look after your most valuable possession - your life vehicle!
Read my e-book How To Anti-Age Your Spine for a fascinating and thorough insight into how you can reverse the aging process and eliminate back pain.
I also suffer from hip or knee pain, is it connected to my back?
Pain in and around the hips and knees is another very common complaint and in many cases it is very much related to the spine and vice-versa.
The posture and biomechanics of the lower back, the pelvis, hip joints and knees are all inter-related in that hip and knee pain is usually a sign that the lower back and pelvis are not functioning correctly in terms of position and movement. 
For example, it is quite common for short hamstrings to affect the function of both the knees and the lower back as they restrict the normal movement of the pelvis, transferring more strain to both the lumbar spine and to the knees.

Similarly, short and tight hip-flexor muscles have an effect on the posture, alignment and biomechanics of the spine and pelvis which can create stress, tension and increased wear and tear of the joints of the spine, hips and knees.

Please see the 3D-Biomechanics page here for further explanation and examples.
Another consequence of faulty spinal mechanics is the effect on the nerve supply and circulation.  Reduced circulation and nerve supply can cause muscle dysfunction and imbalance, leading to weakness, tension, pain and eventually premature wear and tear.
If you want to know whether your spinal and body mechanics are working properly, why not book yourself in with the "back mechanic" for a check up and service.  "Prevention is better than cure!"