Back pain does not happen overnight. It is a postural dysfunction. It simply means that there is an abnormal curvature of the spine or abnormal positioning of the pelvis.
Everyone has varying degrees of postural imbalances as different muscles grow weaker or stronger, and more flexible or tight in relation to each other. Postural dysfunctions cause increased wear and tear on the joints, muscles, ligaments, and discs in your back. Over time your back weakens until it can no longer properly support itself and nerves in your spinal column are suddenly and painfully pressured or pinched.
There are different types of surgical procedures for back pain. They try to: remove the pressure on the nerve or stabilize the spine.
In case of a herniated disc, the pain is caused since the disc is pressing on a nerve. Your doctor may suggest for a minor surgery to remove the part of the disc that’s pressing on the nerve.
At first thought, this might sound like good news. Take the pressure off the nerve and it’s goodbye pain! Unfortunately it’s not quite that simple. Think of it like the wheels on a car. When your car gets out of alignment, your tires wear unevenly. The areas on the tire receiving extra pressure due to the imbalance wear away much faster than normal. Left unchecked, a sudden catastrophic blowout may be in your future.
If you replace the tires, but leave the alignment uncorrected, it won’t be long until you have the same problem with the new tires. Until you fix the cause of the problem, the symptoms will keep recurring.
The same thing applies to your spine. No matter how many surgeries you have, until you correct the underlying cause of the imbalances weakening your back, you will continue experiencing spinal degeneration — and as time goes on, more pain.
This is why the back surgery will be an extreme approach in dealing with non-trauma related back pain. Besides the fact that spinal surgery alone will not correct muscle imbalances, there are other issues to contend with during recovery that can be counterproductive to your pain reduction goals.
Post-surgical recovery is an area too frequently glossed over during the decision making process leading to an operation. You will want to consider the risks and difficulties of recovery as part of an informed decision.
Following back surgery, your body will go through a normal recovery process including significant pain and awkward movement for even simple daily tasks. Because your body is contorting itself to avoid pain during this recovery phase, additional stress is placed on other areas of your body — particular above and below the site of surgery and in other joints such as the hips or sacroiliac (SI).
All surgeries produce scar tissue. As your body heals there is a real possibility that the scar tissue itself can build up to the point that it makes contact with the nerve, causing as much pain as if the disc itself were still putting pressure on the nerve.
Fortunately most back pain sufferers can get relief without resorting to surgery. By identifying and addressing the underlying muscle imbalances and postural dysfunctions behind their back pain, many back pain sufferers can get better results without surgery and avoid the inherent risks.
In fact, if you’re still considering surgery, I’d recommend finding a qualified therapist first and ask the same five questions above. Using this information, give yourself 60 days to work on stretching and strengthening before making a final decision on surgery. You stand a strong chance of eliminating your back pain altogether — with no surgery and much lower medical bills!
One final word on surgical outcomes. Back pain surgery is the only category of surgery that actually has a clinical term for failure — Failed Back Surgery Syndrome. Unless the underlying causes of your back pain such as muscle imbalances are addressed, chances are high that you won’t experience long-term pain relief (I define long-term as more than five years).
Adopted from an article by
By Steven Hefferon, CMT, PTA, CPRS http://www.losethebackpain.com
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