Alternative Medicine: A new look at an old problem
By Dr. Tim Holcomb
May 20, 2014 at 5:20 a.m.
Most Americans will suffer from disabling back pain at some point in their lives. At any given time, millions of Americans struggle with back pain. Why is back pain so often disabling?
The lower back is a complicated structure of joints, muscles, vertebrae and discs. A problem with any of these parts can irritate sensitive nerves that can cause pain of varying severity.
A physical examination is necessary to diagnose the root cause of the back pain, especially if there has been an accident, such as a fall or a car accident, which usually causes a sudden onset of pain.
Chronic back pain that has been developing over time can also be a symptom of serious problems that are developing, such as degeneration or the bulging of a disc in the spine. In addition to pain, other serious symptoms can include leg weakness or pain.
Many people consider surgery as an answer for their back pain. Surgery may help for a herniated disc that is putting pressure on the spinal cord or one of its nerve roots. About half of all lower back surgeries fail, so usually surgery is considered only after conservative treatments have been tried.
Less than five percent of back pain cases are candidates for surgery, according to research. That means more than 95 percent of back pain cases cannot be fixed with surgery.
Most back pain has nothing to do with the structure of the spine but with the way the nervous system is miscommunicating.
Oversensitive nerves in the nervous system are translating normal sensations into pain messages to the brain, causing an endless loop of unnecessary pain, like a false alarm.
Unfortunately, many people that have had back pain for awhile, even those that had failed back surgery, resign themselves to pain pills and limitations in their activities for the rest of their lives.
For these people, the answer is neurological not surgical. There are alternative, noninvasive neurological treatments available that they may not yet have considered.
Tim Holcomb is a Victoria nutritionist, pharmacist, naturopath and chiropractor.