What Causes Chronic Pain?
Chronic pain can be caused by many different factors. Often conditions that accompany normal aging may affect bones and joints in ways that cause chronic pain. Other common causes are nerve damage and injuries that fail to heal properly. Some kinds of chronic pain have numerous causes.
Your pain, for example, may be caused by any combination of factors:
Years of poor posture
Improper lifting and carrying of heavy objects
A congenital condition such as curvature of the spine
Wearing high heels
Sleeping on a poor mattress
No obvious physical cause
Ordinary aging of the spine (degenerative changes)
Disease can also be the underlying cause of chronic pain. Rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia are well-known culprits, but persistent pain may also be due to such ailments as cancer, multiple sclerosis, stomach ulcers, AIDS, and gallbladder disease.
The vast majority of Americans will experience back pain at some point during their lives. In most cases (upwards of 90 percent), the pain will go away on its own, allowing you to go about with your normal activities.
Still, if you’re in the midst of a back-pain episode, the pain can be severe and debilitating, and this is why back pain is the leading reason why people visit orthopedic surgeons and neurosurgeons, and the second leading reason why people visit primary care physicians.
Unfortunately, despite seeking medical treatment, many patients who visit primary care doctors for back pain report they are “often dissatisfied with the care, information, and treatment they receive.”Among those with chronic back pain, “unmet needs and expectations” are common. In fact, according to one study, “patients repeatedly seek care, not because past care was remembered as having been helpful, but because past care failed to answer fundamental questions about the cause of their pain.”
In other words, many people with back pain are looking to understand the underlying reasons why they’re in pain, but, instead, what they’re often getting is a lot of superficial (and unnecessary) treatment.
Back Pain Is Often Overtreated
In most cases back pain is not a sign of an underlying disease. If you have certain red flags, such as a sudden change in bowel or bladder habits, history of cancer or serious infection, or unexplained weight loss, then you should have your pain checked out by a specialist.
If not, there’s a good chance you need nothing more than regular exercise, restorative sleep, stress relief, and, likely, some active supportive therapies (see below).
Instead, back pain is increasingly being treated with addictive drugs and diagnostic exams that expose patients to potentially unnecessary and dangerous levels of radiation, along with often-unnecessary (and ineffective) procedures, like steroid injections and surgery.
Back pain is actually one of the primary reasons why so many American adults get addicted to pain killers.
4 factors that influence pain.
The good news is that they are easily avoidable and/or modifiable. First becoming aware of these factors, and then taking steps to remedy them, empowers you to take control of your back pain and recover naturally.
A belief that your pain is harmful and disabling
Fear of, and avoidance of, movement and activity
Low mood and isolation
Belief in passive rather than active treatment
Changing your mindset may help tremendously in helping you overcome this potentially debilitating problem. Cognitive behavioral therapy may help in this regard. Talking with a therapist, with a focus on changing your thoughts and behavior, helped relieve back pain after just six weeks in one study.
'Movement Is Medicine' for Back Pain
Your body needs regular activity to remain in balance and pain-free. For example, when you sit for long periods of time, you typically end up shortening your iliacus, psoas, and quadratus lumborum muscles that connect from your lumbar region to the top of your femur and pelvis.
When these muscles are chronically short, it can cause severe pain when you stand up as they will effectively pull your lower back (lumbar) forward. Imbalance among the anterior and posterior chains of muscles leads to many of the physical pains you experience. By rebalancing and strengthening these muscles, you can remedy many pains and discomforts, including low back pain.
One of the best things you can do to prevent and manage pain is to exercise regularly to keep your back and abdominal muscles strong and flexible. Foundation Training—an innovative method developed to treat his own chronic low back pain—is an excellent alternative to Band Aid options like painkillers and surgery that addresses the cause of the problem. It is one that I have been doing virtually every day for a few years now. Foundation Training exercises are designed to strengthen your posterior chain of muscles that support your back, and teach your body to move naturally, the way it was designed to move.
Another approach is creating and maintaining a balance between stability and mobility as well as your body's ability to move efficiently and resiliently on all planes with Lisa Huck's 3-Dimesional Dynamic Movement Techniques (see the video above). I have found Lisa’s recommendations useful and also use these every day.
Both of these strategies are far more effective than the typical conventional medical approach for back pain. Relieving, and preventing, back pain can also be as simple as interrupting your sitting regularly, about every 15 minutes, which I call intermittent movement.
If you have back pain, I suggest different mini exercises you can do to interrupt your sitting. To me, this is absolutely essential for prevention of pain.