Nothing hurts a backache more than hearing "It's all in your head." But that's essentially what the Seattle spine surgeon, David Hanscom, MD, said at more than 600 of his patients. And after three to six months of his plan – without any prescription medication, exercise, or weight loss – 95% of them, he says, were relieved.
How? Although most people suffer from low back pain at some point in their lives, doctors often can not find the cause. They could prescribe painkillers or plan surgeries with potential side effects, says Dr. Hanscom. Take the case of Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr. After a back surgery, Kerr developed a new problem: cerebrospinal fluid leaks that can cause headaches, nausea, hearing loss, etc.
Even "successful" operations to correct anatomical problems do not always end the pain. The reason? "Back pain starts with a muscle problem, but becomes a neurological problem," says Dr. Hanscom. The pain is transmitted by the nerves and "those who shoot together connect," he says. You really become more sensitive to pain wherever you are.
In addition, researchers at Northwestern University who are studying MRIs of people with back pain found that pain-related brain activity moved from the pain center to the emotional center. Just like stress, anxiety, anger or depression can trigger headaches, they can also cause an upsurge in back pain. "You're feeling the same pain, but a different neural driver is leading the show," says Dr. Hanscom.
"It's a cycle in which physical pain can cause mental pain and mental pain can cause physical pain," says Robert Gatchel, Ph.D., a psychologist who studies chronic pain at the University of Texas. "But you can not really know who came first, because there is a constant interaction between the two."
Your nine-point plan to relieve back pain
It was only when Dr. Hanscom studied the neurobiology of chronic pain that he was able to end his twenty years of struggle with this disease. His "Direct Your Own Care" program takes a mind-body approach and is detailed in his book Back in control. To overcome the pain, he says, you need to improve the chemistry of your body. Start here.
Step 1 – Stress Down Stress
- 1. Create a stress journal. Allow five minutes twice a day to write (or save on your smartphone) what annoys you. Then tear it off immediately or erase it. It helps you to detach yourself from negative feelings.
- 2. Become a mini-meditator. Periodically spend 15 seconds focusing on sensations other than pain, such as the taste, odor and temperature of your coffee. Mindfulness can reduce reactions to pain.
- 3. Stop the ventilation. Talking about the injury activates the pathways of pain. When they are not used, they become less active than those used more regularly, says Dr. Hanscom.
Step 2 – Forgive and forget
- 4. Let go. Researchers at McGill University suggest that anger at injustice can cause people with chronic pain to feel more pain. Try to "stop thinking." "As soon as you start thinking about how someone has offended you, say the word" stop, "says clinical psychologist Janis Abrahms Spring, Ph.D.
- 5. Do more things than you like. Take a weekend on the road. Having fun increases the levels of well-being neurotransmitters while connecting your nervous system to sensations other than pain, says Dr. Hanscom.
Step 3 – Clean House
- 6. Organize a disorganized part of your life. Whether in a relationship or in a garbage drawer, the disorder promotes stress and anger. Attack a messy part of your life, then another.
- 7. Make new friends or reconnect with elders. Many guys in pain isolate themselves, which aggravates the pain. "You have to put yourself in situations where you will meet the same people again and again," says clinical psychologist Andrea Bonior, Ph.D. It's this closeness that gives rise to friendships. Visit the gym, cafe or dog park at the same time each week.
Step 4 – Be less focused on yourself
- 8. Make yourself feel small. Chronic back pain can give the impression of consuming everything, so try to create inspiring circumstances and put things into perspective. It can be as simple as sleeping under the stars or hiking. You are not in a world of pain; According to Dr. Hanscom, most of the world does not suffer.
- 9. Relieve the pain of others. Whether in an animal shelter or soup kitchen, seeing the pain disappear from another's eyes, even momentarily, can help ease yours, says Dr. Hanscom. Find an activity suited to your talents and interests on www.volontermatch.org.
Four ways to screw up your back
Follow our advice so that you do not prepare for intense pain.
Your weekend warrior mentality
If your workstation is tied up five days a week, "the muscles that scaffold your spine do not have the stamina to protect you," says Alice Chen, MD, a physiatrist at the Hospital of Surgery special. Help them with the exercises below.
Extra books on your belly
The excess fat forces the lower back, often a counterweight to the belly, says Dr. Chen. The fat in the spine can also compress the nerves of the spinal canal. Getting strong: in a study at Harvard, men who trained 20 minutes a day gained less energy than those who did cardio.
Mix Deadlifts and Down Dogs
The vertebral discs are made of collagen. When you bend down with yoga, collagen softens to adapt, says Stuart McGill, Ph.D., author of Mechanic back. When you lift heavy weights, the collagen stiffens. Mixing the two workout styles often causes back problems.
Your happy hours extended
Alcohol slows healing, limits blood flow to the discs and can irritate the muscles supporting the spine, causing pain, says Dr. Chen. Back ache? Limit drinks to two a day. If you have degenerative disc disease or herniated disc, excessive alcohol intake can affect your recovery.
Three spine saving movementses
To begin each workout, perform 3 sets of 6, 4, and 2 repetitions of each exercise, resting 20 seconds between sets, says McGill.