Types of Back Pain | What Causes Lower Back Pain | Why Conventional Treatment Doesn’t Work| 4-Step Protocol for Lower Back Pain Relief
Lower back pain relief is achievable once you understand the importance of calibrating your body every day to retrain your brain on how it perceives pain.
When you’re in pain, you want relief fast. After all, pain not only stops you from completing your normal daily activities but also drains you mentally, emotionally, and physically. And perhaps one of the most debilitating types of pain occurs in the lower back — a common health concern that affects more than 80 percent of the world’s population at some point in their lives. But why does it impact so many people and, more importantly, how can you get lower back pain relief fast so you can return to your normal activities and enjoy a full life?
The truth of the matter is that contrary to popular belief, the key to back pain relief, especially lower back pain that radiates down into your hip, lies in your brain. More specifically, it lies in the way your brain perceives pain.
Fortunately, that means you ultimately can control your pain and even get total relief by mastering how your brain perceives your pain. So, let’s take a look at the top cause of lower back pain, why conventional treatments are truly inadequate, and my protocol for how to relieve lower back pain fast.
Types of Back Pain
There are two types of back pain that I see in patients: upper and lower back pain.
Upper back pain is pain or discomfort that occurs somewhere between the shoulder blades and may present with other symptoms such as numbness or tingling, burning, or fatigue. It typically stems from muscle strain, poor posture, osteoarthritis, or an injury. Fortunately, upper back pain due to poor posture or a minor injury can be relieved through minor stretching and moderate posture adjustments.
Meanwhile, lower back pain can present as sharp or dull and may appear with back spasms. You may also experience pain radiating down into your hip or leg along with tingling and/or numbness.
While both types of back pain are common, lower back pain occurs much more frequently than upper back pain because it supports more of your movements. In fact, lower back pain affects more than 619 million people around the world and is the leading cause of disability around the world.
What Causes Lower Back Pain?
With lower back pain being so common, you may be wondering what’s causing it. Lower back pain can actually be referred pain stemming from a problem with an organ in your stomach, chest, or back (a kidney stone is a great example of this). That said, it’s far more likely that the cause of lower back pain is due to a back injury, arthritis, sprain or strain, or perhaps an issue with one of your disks.
While all of these causes are common, at The Dearing Clinic and throughout my career as a functional neurologist and chiropractor, I’ve found that the leading cause of chronic lower back pain lies in the way your brain perceives pain.
Let’s take a closer look at this. You may be surprised to learn that most lower back pain that radiates down the leg is not directly related to spinal nerve impingement from a bulging or herniated disc, even if your MRI shows a bulging disc! Instead, most lower back pain that radiates down into the hip or leg is due to tight muscles clamping on little nerves, well outside of the spine. But why do these muscles clamp down?
In short, your lifestyle is full of repetitive movements that your brain becomes accustomed to and tries to compensate for in an effort to avoid pain. The result? More pain — often in the lower back!
Here’s an example: Think of a golfer who consistently performs the perfect swing. He or she is overusing specific muscles, joints, and tendons while underusing others. This ultimately causes imbalances in the body, leading to inevitable wear and tear of your structure.
But you don’t have to be an athlete to put yourself at risk of this overuse and underuse. Sitting at a desk, digging a ditch, or lifting boxes all day is no different. The repeated movements of your specific lifestyle puts you at risk of developing lower back pain.
So, what’s the solution? As it turns out, to get lower back pain relief, you must calibrate your body every single day. This means you must prioritize the movement, strength, and flexibility of every muscle, joint, tendon, and myofascial system in your body in a way that requires them to inform your brain of their full possible range of motion. Once your brain understands what your body can do, it will no longer be under the illusion that your muscles, tendons, and joints can only perform specific movements and alert an unnecessary pain signal — and you’ll find the back pain relief you’ve been seeking.
Why Conventional Lower Back Pain Treatment Doesn’t Work
Given what you now know about the role of your brain in attaining lower back pain relief, let’s take a look at the four most common conventional lower back pain treatment options and review why they aren’t long term solutions.
Medications are often used to reduce inflammation and pain. But the medications only hide the pain for so long and eventually cause side effects when taken for an extended period of time. And while over-the-counter medications such as Ibuprofen and Tylenol can help to provide lower back pain relief, they simply prolong the problem, ultimately making it worse to the point that these medications aren’t as effective after a certain amount of time. So, it may serve as a temporary back pain reliever, but it’s not a long term solution.
2. Steroid Injections
Another common conventional treatment for lower back pain is the use of steroid injections in the hip or the spine. Steroids are intended to fight inflammation in order to promote normal, pain-free movement. While these injections are useful in the recovery process after an injury, they’re not a long term solution. Over time, multiple injections are known to weaken and degrade joint, ligament, cartilage integrity, which leads to accelerated wear and tear — the exact issues you need to avoid.
Ablation is a process in which you destroy the nerves that surround the spinal facet joints, thereby eliminating your ability to feel the pain. While it’s helpful for up to six months in younger individuals, the nerves grow back and, ultimately, your pain pattern returns. So, once again, we have a short term solution to a long term problem.
4. Spinal surgery
Finally, spinal surgery is often explored as a last resort when other conventional back pain relief methods have failed. And it’s a great thing that the medical community has recognized the importance of avoiding this surgery whenever possible. Statistics show that one spinal surgery, even if it’s very minor, will accelerate scar tissue adhesion formations and lead to the increased likelihood of another surgery in the future.
Assuming the first surgery was a minor discectomy, a second surgery would likely be more invasive, such as a spinal fusion, which is known to be incredibly risky and often doesn’t reduce the pain. Even worse? Spinal fusion surgeries often lead to the need for more fusions down the road!
Dr. Dearing’s 4-Step Protocol for Lower Back Pain Relief
Given the concerns and lack of effectiveness with conventional lower back pain treatments, let’s look at my four-step protocol for how to relieve lower back pain.
Remember, the goal is to restore your normal function and range of motion as soon as possible by calibrating your body in order to retrain your brain so that it understands your body’s full capabilities. This protocol will help you do just that because I’ve found that when you’re starting out, taking the steps I’ve outlined below is the best initial treatment for back pain.
Step 1: Become aware of your limitations.
Pay special attention to what movements are causing your back pain. Consider what movements or consistent postural positions may be contributing to your pain.
Step 2: Take action by getting active.
Once you’re aware of your limitations, perform some simple stretches to gain more insight into your restricted patterns while also improving your range of motion. This will help to begin to rewire your brain by reminding it of all your capable movements.
Not sure where to start? Check out some of The Dearing Clinic’s recommended Fundamental Core Exercises in the video below.
Step 3: Focus on repetition.
Try to repeat the Fundamental Core Exercises above several times each day. Repetition of these movements as well as other gentle stretching exercises that target every joint, muscle, and tendon from your hips down to your knees will help to retrain your brain and provide lower back pain relief. The more you do these exercises, the more frequently you’re reminding your brain that your body is capable of more than just your normal movements.
Also, keep in mind that remaining aware of your abilities is critical, as both frequency and intensity of any muscle, joint, and tendon stimulation will aid in reconnecting your body and your brain.
Step 4: Incorporate brain- and tissue-healing foods and herbs.
Finally, in addition to completing the back pain relief exercises above, it’s important to prioritize your nutritional intake. To heal and fortify your tissue, you need to eat foods that promote healthy blood flow and structural rebuilding. Some of the top foods to eat include okra, mushrooms, hibiscus tea, and even aloe gel.
Foods rich in vitamin C, such as citrus fruits, strawberries, bell peppers, and tomatoes, are known to help rebuild soft tissue that’s been damaged. These foods also support the maintenance of the structure of the new neurons that you’ll create through the therapeutic process!
I also recommend considering supplementation to get the most benefit from your lower back pain relief efforts. In addition to taking a quality vitamin C supplement, some of my top recommendations include:
Phosphatidylcholine, which helps to repair damaged cells. It also stimulates acetylcholine, a brain molecule used to regulate the autonomic nervous system, which is critical for important functions in the body such as delivering blood flow to aid in the healing of damaged tissues. Phosphatidylcholine has been studied for its ability to support cognitive issues such as anxiety, depression, and dementia.
Mucopolysaccharides, which supports collagen formation that aids in tissue repair and supports joint health.
R-Lipoic Acid, which supports the health of your tissue and aids in the recycling of vitamins C & E, glutathione, and CoQ10.
Note that not every person should take all of these supplements simultaneously, as every body is unique and has specific requirements. To learn more about what would best support your particular situation, it’s best to consult with your doctor or contact The Dearing Clinic for more guidance.
Get Lower Back Pain Relief Starting Today!
Now that you have a better understanding of the initial best back pain relief steps you can take at home, it’s time to begin implementation. If you find that your pain persists or improves but you’re still looking for additional support, it’s likely that you require a more thorough breakdown of what’s causing your pain so that you can address it and remedy it before it becomes too severe.
To learn more about how The Dearing Clinic can help you do just that, read more on our specific approach to pain management. Remember, the best pain relief for back pain comes from understanding your situation and taking action to retrain your brain by supporting its ability to connect with your body. The sooner you take action to prioritize your health and comfort, the easier it will be to resolve and find true and lasting lower back pain relief.
Lower back pain is a common health concern that affects more than 80 percent of the world’s population at some point in their lives. But contrary to popular belief that back pain stems from problems with your discs or spine, it's actually a result of the way your brain perceives pain due to movement limitations.
The key to achieving lower back pain relief, especially back pain that radiates down into your hip, lies in your ability to retrain your brain to understand your body's full capabilities and movements.
Instead of taking medications that come with harmful side effects or opting for painful surgery, consider trying Dr. Dearing's 4-step protocol for lower back pain relief, which includes becoming aware of your limitations, getting active to remind your brain of your total range of movements, focusing on repetition each and every day, and supporting your efforts with brain- and tissue-healing foods.
For more customized solutions and a more comprehensive treatment plan for your specific needs, contact The Dearing Clinic.