Updated: Jun 10
Let's start this discussion by touching on why the source of low back pain can be so difficult to diagnose and successfully treat. Low back pain is the leading cause of disability worldwide and also ranks high in level of daily burden. While it is common for your first experience of low back pain to self resolve, it is also common that back pain becomes episodic, and that over time those episodes become more frequent, more intense and harder to resolve.
When you go to your physician's office with a compliant of lower back pain, they often take an x-ray or MRI of your spine. In some cases these images show significant findings such as disc bulges, degenerative joint disease and spinal stenosis. Your doctor may even say something like, "you have the spine of a 90 year old." This is not only offensive to 90 year olds, it isn't a very good predictor of pain. The problem with static images
diagnosing your lower back pain is that there is a poor correlation between medical imaging and pain. For every person who is having back problems and a remarkable x-ray finding, there is another who is suffering and gets a "normal" imaging report. Even more confusing are the people who have major findings on imaging and have no pain what so ever. This can be very frustrating for both patient and provider. It would be so much easier if the picture told us what was wrong and then exactly what to do about it. Unfortunately, this is not the case. The causes of lower back pain are multifactorial and as unique as the individual seeking answers. That means that the treatment plan that helped your friend, isn't necessarily going to help you. This is where a proper evaluation of your whole body is essential to getting you the right treatment for your back pain.
The Integrative Physical Therapy approach at Inertia Physiotherapy is a truly whole body approach that takes into consideration all your systems. Pain is an output. It's a real experience, but it's a decision that your brain made based on the information it has on hand. That means there's something sending the signal or causing it to persist. That signal may be coming from any structure in your body and especially in cases where a traditional musculoskeletal approach hasn't proven effective, it's often not where you think it is.
In Physical Therapy School we are taught to understand the hardware of the body: the bones, muscles, tendons, ligaments and nerves. We learn to strengthen what is weak and stretch what is tight. We learn biomechanics and look at the body as if it as machine. It turns out we are so much more complex and elegant than that. No system works alone and influence on any one system will have a ripple effect on the rest of the body. We can use this fact to our advantage if we can evaluate the body in such a way that identifies the primary area of dysfunction, or the "Primary Driver". The Primary Driver is the zone of the body that is causing most of the problems, or the Villain in your plot. The Victim is the tissue that hurts. In this scenario the Victim is your lower back. Quite often, treatment has failed to yield lasting results because it has been directed to the Victim. Sometimes you can soothe the Victim for awhile, but the Villain will usually prevail. With subsequent episodes the Victim screams louder and thus the cycle repeats more intensely with more disability than before.
With the Integrated Systems Model, we gain a deeper appreciation for the interconnectedness of the body and we understand how to identify the system at fault. This results in treatment targeted to the right tissue with the right tool. An under appreciated, but very logical system to find dysfunction in is the visceral system. Let's take closer look at why this is true.
The abdominal organs (viscera) are fascially and neurologically connected to your spine and spinal cord. They all have an intrinsic movement that is essential to health of the organ and organism (you). If the fascia surrounding the organ becomes inflamed as a result of infection, trauma, environmental toxins, emotional stress, poor diet, or repetitious movement or posture, the function of the organ can become impaired. This results in reduced communication with the brain and further dysfunction in the organ. Since your organs can't directly communicate with your consciousness that they are in distress, they may instead send a signal to your musculoskeletal system in the form of pain in the spinal segment that innervates that organ or the surrounding muscles.
A common association with low back pain is "weak core muscles." While core strength is important, if your gut isn't happy (inflamed, bloated or restricted), your abdominal tone will be neurologically reduced and your lower back and pelvis are more vulnerable to injury or strain. Often our clients have been prescribed "core" exercises, but they haven't provided relief or even made them worse because the underlying dysfunction hasn't been treated. Once the underlying problem is addressed, the abdominal muscles come back online, your core exercises are more effective and your back feels much better.
If you are stuck in a cycle of back pain episode that are getting more intense and harder to resolve. If you aren't responding to your current treatment plan or despite time and effort you don't feel your core getting stronger, visceral manipulation may be the answer you're looking for to jumpstart your healing.
If you're wondering if visceral manipulation might be right for you, call or go online and schedule your free Discovery Session today!
1001 S 4th St W Suite 4
Missoula, MT 59801