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Episode 97: Lower Back Pain

Video Highlights

- The frustrating factors of low back pain.
- Why an individual approach is best.
- Recommended reading for you and your health and fitness professional.

Hi, Z-Community. Dr. Cobb back with you.

Today we’re going to be back to talking about one of my favorite topics, which is pain.

If you are unaware of this fact, I am asked about pain with a great deal of regularity. We talk a lot in our classes about what it is, how it works in the brain, how it works in the body, and what it means.

The reason I’m going to talk about this today is I ran across a quote from a study not too long ago. It got me thinking because the way that it was phrased is very important.

Really what I want you to hear today is encouragement that if you have pain, and you have been trying to get rid of it for some time, keep going. I know I’ve said this to you before, but pain relief is often a matter of persistence, not only in just trying to deal with it, but in continuing to talk to different people about it.

Let me give you the background here. In medicine, we talk about what are called  “gold standard” types of studies. Those are usually called randomized controlled trials, where we take something like, let’s say, stretching for the low back. We say, we’re going to take all these people that have low back pain, and we’re going to stretch these three muscles, or six muscles, or whatever. Then we’re going to see, did that make their back pain get better?

Now, if you look at the literature, and this is actually from probably five years ago so there have been even more trials than that now, but about five years ago, if you look at the literature, there had been over a thousand RCTs, a thousand randomized control trials, of different interventions, from stretching to mobility to mobilization, manipulation, to injections, to bracing, to all kind of things.

The basic evidence was, as they said, contradictory and unsatisfying. In essence, they said after a thousand studies, we don’t know if stuff helps because it’s contradictory.

What I’m trying to share constantly is that as our understanding of pain has evolved, we know that pain is multi-factorial.

If I take a hundred people with low back pain, there are studies that show that your level of job dissatisfaction is the number one predictor of low back pain, meaning how emotionally stressed you are may be a huge component.

Do you think that person is going to respond the same way to someone who maybe has an inner ear disorder and they are constantly off balance and so their muscles are always tensed?

Probably not. If I do the same thing to each one of them, the likelihood of all of them benefiting is incredibly low, but if you think about how back pain, or any pain, is handled, you see your health and fitness professional, and they say, “Where does it hurt? How long have you had it? What made it start?”

In general, the way we’re educated, that’s suppose to tell us what’s wrong with you and what to do about it. I’m telling you, that is an old paradigm. It’s still useful to some degree. If something really bad is happening to you, those are the questions we need to ask, but if this is something that’s been going on for a really long time, I’m going to direct you back to one of my earlier blogs where I said you really need to take your own history.

Referenced Blog: Take Your Own History

There may be a lot of information that you’ve never shared with your health and fitness professional that might help direct them to something that’s more applicable to you.

When it comes to pain, as I said, I need you to understand that there’s a lot of information out there about it. You need to persist not only in your own education, but also in finding people who understand this stuff. Now to help you, next step’s here; I’m going to recommend a book to you.

I’m going to tell you, it’s kind of heavy reading. It’s called “Therapeutic Neuroscience Education”.  “Therapeutic Neuroscience Education” and we’re going to put a link to that one. We’re also going to put a link to a very simplified version of that book as well. I would love, if you are a pain person, or you have people in your family that have a lot of ongoing pain, please pick these books up and read them.

The reason I recommend the first one is there is actually a quiz that the first couple of chapters cover. That quiz is intended for you and your health and fitness professional. The thing that I’m asking for you to do is educate yourself so that you can have an appropriate dialogue with whoever is working with you.

If your health and fitness providers are unable to talk to you about the stuff that’s in these books, you need to go, “Would you please read this so that we can talk about it?” Or, if they are resistant, then maybe you need to explore your other options, because pain is a personal thing.

I actually heard this statement a long time ago. It said, “Pain is a highly personal and private event.” No one has the right to tell you how your pain exists, and no one has the right to tell you when it’s gone. That’s yours. What you’re seeking, and all the people that you work with, is better education, better understanding and helping figure out what it is about your situation that’s unique, that needs to be dealt with, so that you can feel better in your everyday life.

Hopefully you get all that. Read the book. Stay persistent. Keep looking, because there are people out there who really understand this at a high level. I believe that there are options available for almost all of us to make progress on the things that we want to, particularly with pain.

If we can help you in anyway, if you have questions, if you want to talk to a Z-Trainer in your area and we can refer you, please let us know, because this is something I’m super passionate about.

Enjoy the book. Again, any feedback you provide once you’ve read it would be fantastic.

Have a great week. Thanks.

Book Recommendations:

Therapeutic NeuroScience Education

Why Do I Hurt?

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