The Tipping Point to a "Fragile" Back - The Physio Revolution

The Tipping Point to a “Fragile” Back

Did you know that both you and I have an 80% chance of experiencing low back pain in our lifetime? Not only that, but after one episode, we have another 90% chance it will come back again for a second episode. Our odds aren’t that great, unfortunately.

Here’s the thing, many people continue to allow back pain to strike over and over again, learn accept it, and now learn to live life in their “new normal”. 

We’ve heard this story so many times and it’s becoming as common as watching the next Starbucks store pop up.

Whether this has happened to you or not, it’s likely you have seen or heard of this sequence of events to some degree:  One experiences some pain that doesn’t go away, then, concern builds because it begins to linger longer than desired and you decide to head to your doctor’s office just to assure it’s nothing “bad”. At the visit, when we go through something like routine back pain, you are offered starter solutions like MRI’s, XRAYS, and pills… and if no better after that, then injections, surgery, and other 50/50 options that “may work”.  If you don’t have a favorable outcome with any of those, nearly 6-12 months now after back pain started in the first place or for other years, they act like they have no other option to offer you (except maybe another surgery or a pain doctor) and you then become “damaged goods” without any other solution to help you move the needle forward.

Many people have tried and “failed” traditional PT as well. Throw in a few massages and acupuncture and you’ve got a story we have heard 100’s of times, unfortunately. By this time, people start to lose hope, feel let down by healthcare providers, and begin to forget what life could look like if this problem was no longer following them around.

“I like to think of this sequence of events much like the definition of insanity – continuing to do the same thing over and over but expecting a different result. “

I have yet to see this process truly work in favor of a person who suffers with chronic low back pain. Here’s the thing, at least you’ve tried something! At least we now know what is not moving the needle forward to get you unstuck and out of back pain. 

Now, let me clarify here for a minute, there are MANY people who have had successful surgeries, but I also see that years down the road, be that even 2 to 10+ years, they are dealing with that exact or a very similar back pain once again! Many neglect to think about a reason why the back pain came on in the first place… even before the surgery.

Like I tell people all the time, your back isn’t as “fragile” as we’d like to believe it is. If you think picking up a sock or pen off the floor, bending forward to tie your shoe, or twisting to grab a piece of paper is the CULPRIT of back pain, I’d like you to think about this: 

It wasn’t the fact that you tied your shoe or twisted your back THAT day that you felt back pain … this day was the TIPPING POINT for the build up of poor movement habits that caused “something to give” once and for all.

Your body gave you multiple attempts to let yourself do those movements the way you wanted (AKA noticing some stiffness or soreness once and awhile), while you neglected to allow other muscles, ligaments, tendons to help support your back, that it finally needed to give you a SIGNAL (pain or injury) to STOP doing those movements. 

It’s like when you were a kid and your parents told you that what you were doing was going to get you in trouble. “You needed to learn your lesson.”

It might be new to you, but our back is one of THE STRONGEST areas of our body, we just fail to allow it to be.

So, for these reasons, my understanding of the body, and knowing the research behind surgeries vs. “conservative” care – this is why I tell people surgery is a 50/50 option.

Really, to me, if it’s not life threatening, I’d exhaust all measures of what I could do conservatively before I let anyone cut me open with a knife. I know TOO MANY people who have watched their loved one’s go down an awful ending to their life because they were recommended a “routine” back surgery or pills for “routine” back pain: spinal cord injuries, strokes, more pain after the surgery, depression, addiction, and so much more. Most of these solutions don’t address the root cause of the issue.

You may “fix” a structural “issue” … that may or may not have even been there 3-5 years prior anyways but since an image “showed” something irregular (now that you had a MRI or XRAY for the first time in years), it MUST be the culprit, right? 

But, even if you fix the “issue” that the image showed, did you ever change the real root cause of why that “issue” began in the first place? 

Read that again. Even if you fix the “issue” that the image showed (ie. surgery), did you ever change the real ROOT CAUSE of why that “issue” began in the first place? Could it be that bone spurs, stenosis, disc degeneration, and disc bulges are just a normal part of aging?!  READ this blog for more information about that subject!

The Big Takehome: We don’t just have a “bad back”… we STOP caring for our back – ie. life happens: jobs, kids, family, moving, traveling. 

We develop poor movement patterns and neglect to give our body the attention and proper training it needs to be successful. It’s like neglecting to read books to your newborn for 6 years and expecting them to know how to develop the skills necessary to read or write when they enter kindergarten.

Add the neglect you give your back into a soup full of salty stress, unfavorable eating habits, just being a “bad” sleeper all your life, and you’ve got a recipe that is going to taste like crap.

I hope that you take many of these points into consideration for not only yourself, but for your loved ones as well.

If you or someone you love has been struggling with back pain and you resonate with this information and want to FINALLY do something that will change your life, you can start by reading our guide on 7 Tips to Ease Low Back Pain – OR – if you want help quicker, call to discuss if you are a good fit for our Free Discovery Visit option at (720)-772-1133.

Brooke Olsen

Brooke Olsen

Co-Founder, Director of Physical Therapy
Brooke is a physical therapist, director of physical therapy, and co-founder at The Physio Revolution. She has worked with professional athletes from Olympic level and recreational weekend warriors to others who are in need of regaining their independence and mobility back in their everyday life. Brooke works extensively with all of the PT’s and spends a vast amount of her time ensuring our treatment plans keep pace with the rapid advancements that make physical therapy so effective and such a ‘go-to’ profession for people aged 45+.
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