Tag Archive for: Back Pain Treatment

5 Expert Tips to Treat Back Pain Naturally and on your Own

Back pain impacts approximately 31 Million Americans at any given time, and our health care system spends $50 Billion per year on low back pain treatment.

It’s the single leading cause of disability keeping people out of work, and it’s the second most common reason for doctor’s visits. Back pain is a big problem in this country. But the even bigger problem, in my opinion, is how the traditional medical system treats and manages those suffering from back pain.

Despite what you may have been told, getting rid of back pain on your own is entirely possible and preventing it can be even easier.

But it starts with understanding what the true cause of back pain is for most people. Eighty percent of back pain is “mechanical” in origin, which means it’s not due to any serious pathology like cancer, infection, or fracture. Mechanical back pain is the result of abnormal or unusual forces occurring in the structures of your spine – like your ligaments, muscles, discs, and vertebrae. These abnormal forces can accumulate slowly over your lifetime or happen quickly in a single event – such as picking something up the wrong way. The good news is that if abnormal forces can cause your back pain, then reversing those forces can get rid of your back pain. Surgery and other medical procedures won’t do that. They only impact the structure or irritant that is aggravated, like when you remove a piece of your bulging disc. The goal for true back pain recovery is to eliminate what is causing those structures to be aggravated in the first place – and the best way to do that is with healthy movement you can do on your own!

Here are 5 tips to help you minimize abnormal forces on your spine so you can avoid procedures and surgery!


1. Stop sitting so much

Compressive forces on your spine increase by 40% when you sit – and it goes up even more if you’re slouched! Over time, these compressive forces will start to aggravate the ligaments and discs in your spine. Because it happens slowly, you may not notice right away, so one of the best things you can do is interrupt your sitting at least every 30 min. This minimizes the accumulation of abnormal forces on your spine throughout the day.

2. Walk more

Our spines were designed to be upright and moving. Walking is one of the best and easiest ways to promote this. When you walk regularly, it helps to promote good mobility and blood flow, which can act like lubricant for the structures in your spine. Walking also helps to keep your hips from getting tight. Tight hips can cause abnormal forces to occur at your pelvis, which in turn, will create abnormal forces on your spine.

3. Vary your posture

You might be wondering why I didn’t say “maintain good posture”. To be honest, perfect posture all the time is kind of a myth when it comes to back pain. The truth is your spine is quite resilient and should be able to tolerate lots of different postures – even bad posture for a short period of time – without pain. The problem is when we assume the same posture all the time. Imagine if you never straightened your knee, eventually it would get stiff and be difficult to move in that direction. The same thing happens in our spines. One of the best things you can do is choose activities (like Yoga or Pilates) that work your spine through lots of different postures and range of motion. This helps keep your spine happy and healthy and it minimizes abnormal forces from the same repeated postures or activities day after day.

4. Strengthen your core

The stronger you are, the more resilient your body is going to be – period. When it comes to back health, having a good strong core is going to minimize stress on ligaments and even discs. When the muscles around your spine are strong, it’s going to be easier for you to lift and carry things, which is one of the most common ways people injure their backs. If your abdominals, glutes, and hips aren’t doing their job, your spine ends up taking more of the stress – and this can lead to both pain and injury. Pilates is my favorite way to strengthen your core because the exercises are designed to target your abdominals.

5. Educate yourself

There is a lot of misinformation out there when it comes to both diagnosing and treating back pain. You should never let an MRI or X-ray alone dictate what your treatment should be. Remember, the structures in your back don’t get spontaneously irritated. Irritation typically occurs due to abnormal forces on your spine. If you only address the irritated structure – like with an injection, procedure, or surgery – you’re not actually fixing the problem. The best way to address abnormal forces in your spine is with movement – movement that is designed to even out the forces in your spine and relieve pressure from those structures that have become aggravated.

If you’re currently suffering from back pain and want to avoid having to resort to medication, procedures or surgery – then give these tips a try. But if you’ve tried these tips and you continue to struggle – then consider consulting with a mechanical back pain expert who can help you get rid of back pain naturally – and with corrective movement and lifestyle strategies.

Dr. Carrie Jose, Physical Therapist and Pilates expert, owns CJ Physical Therapy & Pilates in Portsmouth and writes for Seacoast Media Group. To request a free copy of her guide to back pain CLICK HERE or to get in touch, email her at [email protected].

Back Pain

Three Reasons Back Pain Sufferers Avoid Exercise (and what you can do)

80% of the population suffers from what we call “non-specific low back pain”. Low back pain is typically chronic, comes out of nowhere, you have good days and bad days, and it’s not usually due to any recent or major accident or fall. If you’ve got back pain and you’re reading this – odds are pretty good that you suffer from non-specific low back pain. Research shows that exercise is the best treatment for non-specific low back pain.

But what do you do when your back pain keeps you from the thing that’s supposed to help you?

Here are three of the most common reasons I see that keep people with low back pain from exercising – and some tips for what you can do:

1. Fear

Let’s face it – back pain is scary.

This is the number one reason back pain sufferers don’t exercise. Is the pain you’re feeling good or bad? Should you be feeling any pain at all? Pain is confusing. When you experience pain during exercise, it can be difficult to know if it’s normal or a warning sign. For many, the safest thing to do (as they see it) is avoid any exercise or movement altogether until the pain subsides.

The problem is – when you try to resume movement again – the pain comes right back – and then you’re caught in a vicious cycle.

What you need to figure out is which movements are “good” and which movements are “bad” – and the good news is your body is going to tell you. If you hurt a little at first – but feel better the more you do something – and aren’t worse after – you can consider that movement generally safe and be encouraged to keep trying it.

But if you hurt during – and feel worse after – then that’s a sign to stop and back off. Pain is not something to fear – it’s just information. What’s important is how your back pain behaves over a period of time with a certain activity.

Fear of pain comes from not knowing what it is or what to do – but when you figure out how to “speak pain” – the fear goes away and you can have control over your body again.

2. Bulging Discs

Most people who suffer from long-standing low back pain eventually find themselves getting an MRI. And 60-70% of the time, it will show one or more bulging discs.

If you’ve been following me for a while, you know that most people over the age of 40 walk around with bulging discs – and that 65% of them feel no pain at all. In other words, if you’ve got a bulging disc, you can’t be certain it’s the cause of your back pain. Research proves this. And being told you’ve got a bulging disc is not a reason alone to avoid exercise.

Movement is actually one of the best things you can do for a bulging disc.

It may require some customization of your current exercise routine, but a movement specialist can help you with this. Don’t just stop or avoid exercise altogether just because you’ve been told you have a bulging disc. Go back to the rules of pain I mentioned above and let that be your guide instead.

3. You Were Told to Rest

Well-meaning doctors and family members who aren’t up to date on the latest back pain research will advise you to rest every time you experience back pain.

This might be reasonable advice when you’re dealing with an acute (sudden) episode of back pain – but it’s terrible advice for chronic, non-specific low back pain sufferers.

Rest is one of the worst things someone with chronic back pain can do. Since most people don’t have a thorough understanding of this concept, they find themselves in a yo-yo effect.

They rest to “heal” their back pain. When it’s gone they return to exercise – only to hurt their back again. I’ve seen so many people fall victim to this perpetuating cycle and it’s a big reason why so many back pain sufferers just give up on exercise entirely.

If it’s been a long time since you’ve exercised – start with 10 min of daily walking.

Walking is generally known to be one of the best things you can do for back pain. If for some reason walking increases your back pain – then that’s a good reason to see a back pain specialist (ideally one who understands how to heal your back with movement versus pills and procedures).

If you’re suffering from chronic, non-specific low back pain – and you’ve stopped exercising – know that you’re not alone.

This is such a confusing topic and there are so many mixed messages out there about what the “right” and “wrong” thing to do is. Don’t try to go at it alone. Exercise is good for your back, but you may just need a little help and guidance to get there.

Need help with Back Pain now? Are you Local to Portsmouth, NH? CLICK HERE to speak with one of my specialists. We will see what’s been going on with you – and get you on a treatment plan right away.

We will be talking all about Back Pain in our upcoming Masterclass! Its free – via zoom – on September 19th. Reserve your seat here!   Learn how to manage your back pain on your own – and get back to doing the activities that you love – pain free!

Dr. Carrie Jose, Physical Therapist and Pilates expert, owns CJ Physical Therapy & Pilates in Portsmouth and writes for Seacoast Media Group. To request a free copy of her guide to back pain CLICK HERE or to get in touch, email her at [email protected].

Three Ways You’re Getting Back Pain Treatment Wrong

If you’re over the age of 40 and reading this, odds are pretty good that you’ve experienced back pain at least once in your life. In fact, four out of five people are impacted by back pain, and for many, it’s a constant back-and-forth year after year. Keep reading to learn three ways you could be getting back pain treatment wrong.

The first thing you need to understand is that back pain is normal. It’s hard to combat the everyday stressors our modern-day lifestyles impose on our spine. We simply weren’t meant to sit for hours each day or be crouched over electronic devices. Rather than have unrealistic expectations about pain-free lifestyles, we should instead be focusing on ways to naturally manage our own back pain.

Now keep in mind, I make a living off helping people recover from debilitating back pain. But that doesn’t mean I want you to suffer. Here are three ways we’re getting back pain treatment wrong.

1. Quick fixes and passive modalities.

Reliance on quick fixes or passive modalities is how most people attempt to treat their back pain. It’s also the number one reason why back pain returns. A passive modality is something that is done to you vs something you actively do on your own. It’s where you walk in somewhere, lie on a table, and receive some kind of treatment. This could be chiropractic care, massage, acupuncture, or even injections and surgery. You have no active role in the process – it’s completely passive.

Now, I’m not saying there is anything wrong with these treatments. They are great for easing symptoms related to back pain – especially tight, spasmatic muscles. (I have back pain myself and get a massage once per month.) But they shouldn’t be used in isolation. They need to be part of a more comprehensive, movement-based approach to addressing back pain at its source. Plus – you’ll find the relief you get from passive modalities is almost always temporary. And when your pain keeps coming back – it’s a sure sign you’re missing something. Don’t get back pain treatment wrong by relying on passive modalities.

2. Letting MRI’s make the decision.

Traditionally, the medical community diagnoses your back pain with images. If you’ve had back pain for a while, and especially if you’ve already tried some physical therapy, doctors will prescribe an MRI to “see what’s going on” inside your spine. The problem is that what shows up in your MRI doesn’t always correlate with what’s causing your back pain. In fact, 60% of the time, what you see on your MRI has nothing to do with the root source of your problem.

For example, your MRI might show a bulging disc in your spine. Well, did you know that bulging discs are normal and occur naturally as you age? You could have two people with the same bulging disc on their MRI and one will have zero back pain.

Why? Because the root cause of back pain is more complicated than your anatomy. Evidence from research tells us that 70-80% of all back pain is primarily caused by restrictions in your mobility – which is influenced by your habits and the way you move – not by what’s going on structurally in your spine.

So if your doctor lets your MRI make the decision, and recommends surgery to cut out a bulging disc that isn’t even the source of your real back problem, you’ve not only wasted a surgery, but wasted even more time not addressing the real cause of your pain. Letting MRI’s dictate your treatment plan is one of the most overlooked ways we’re getting back pain treatment wrong.

3. The wrong exercises.

One of the biggest problems I see when it comes to treating back pain is non-specific, non-prescriptive, generalized exercises that are designed to make you strong and perhaps even target your core – but it’s before the real problem gets addressed.

Almost 90% of the time, back pain is due to immobility in your spinal joints (vertebrae) that causes irritation of surrounding structures in your spine – such as discs, nerves and ligaments. What we know to be true is that these mobility restrictions can be freed up with very specific movements, in very specific directions, using a very specific frequency during the day.

Once the restriction in your spine is free and you’re moving normally, you can do any exercise of your choosing. It’s at this point that strengthening your core, for example, is beneficial. Because a strong core helps prevent future back pain episodes (but it doesn’t cure a current back pain episode).

To figure out which specific move you need to address your back pain will require help from an expert. But the good news is once you know what movement gets rid of your back pain, you can use it time and again to manage it on your own. But generalized exercises, when done too soon, is another big way we’re getting back pain treatment wrong.

If you’ve been suffering from back pain longer than you should, I hope this information helps you figure out where you might have been steered wrong.

It’s worth getting help from a back pain specialist who emphasizes corrective, prescriptive movement as a means to recovery – vs quick fixes, MRI’s, and generalized exercises.

Want help from one of our specialists? Request a Free Discovery Call HERE to see if you’re a good fit for what we do.

Dr. Carrie Jose, Physical Therapist and Pilates expert, owns CJ Physical Therapy & Pilates in Portsmouth and writes for Seacoast Media Group. To request a free copy of her guide to back pain CLICK HERE or visit her website at cjphysicaltherapy.com.