There are times as a chiropractor that we get patients with low back pain that feel their back is beyond saving.
“I’m worried it’s never going to get better . . . I’ve tried everything and nothing works . . . Is this what happens with age?”
At that moment, I start the conversation to change a patient's mental framework about their low back pain. I feel that this is a conversation that many people could benefit from so I’m putting it out there for all to hear.
Let’s go with the metaphor that your low back is no different from your finances. It has income, expenses, investments and of course, interest. Consequently there are lots of people who would like to tell you what you should do with your finances. Friends, family, the internet, all telling you what is working for others and how it could work for you. With all that information it can become confusing how to even get started. That's where I come in as your chiropractor and if compared to finances I am like your backs financial guide!
Let’s get started!
What is the current state of your low back?
If you’re in pain we will call that like being at a financial deficit (you’re in the red). If you are currently not in pain we could say you are making a profit. But will that continue?
What is the trend of your low back?
If you keep going at the current rate you are on, where do you think it will lead? If you are worried it’s not going to get better, that is usually a sign you think you are heading towards a deficit or negative trend.
Let's take a look at the numbers . . .
For your low back, what do you think generates income and what are your expenses?
Examples of income: quality sleep, 30 minutes of light activity, good diet, adequate water intake, stress reducing strategies (yoga, meditation, etc.). In general, if you think “if I did more of [blank], I would probably feel better”, it’s probably your low back income.
Examples of expenses: driving, prolonged sitting, work-related activities, junk food.In general, if you think “”if I did more of [blank] my low back would probably get worse”, it’s an expense.
Exercise 1: Income and Expenses Balance
Write out your low back income and expenses, now write out how much time each day is spent doing each of them?
My job is to first bring attention to these factors and then figure out if we can modify them to mitigate the expenses and maximize the income.
What does an investment in my low back look like?
Then we want to look at your investments which are things that may help, not doing anything or could even be contributing to your low back pain.
Examples of investments: stretching, exercises, passive care, inversion tables, hot/cold pads, rest.
Exercise 2: Investments
Write out your investments. “I’ve been doing [blank] since/recently before I had low back pain and it’s [improving/not improving/aggravating] my low back”.
The goal of your investments is to have a consistently high return (high ROI). Many people make the mistake of spending a lot of time and money on their investments when they are in pain trying multiple new things hoping something will work. Doing this on your own can be frustrating, stressful and expensive!
After we look at your low backs income and expenses we then need to assess each individual investment you have been making. As a health practitioner, there are some of these things I see right away as not being beneficial but usually we need to eliminate most of these factors and slowly re-integrate some of them to assess how they are affecting your low back. We want to get rid of those bad investments! We only want good investments so they can become a part of your income of low back health. Most of these things are not “bad” inherently, but rather it may not be the right time for it to be implemented. The well-known answer of "it depends" is very true, but then the question is, how?
The last lesson is for people to stop looking for “the quick win”. Recovery takes time and without making a plan of action it usually takes longer or worse, it puts us farther into low back debt (chronic pain). In my experience, there is ALWAYS a way out of pain and it starts with meeting you where you are on your journey. Progression starts with regression.
Hopefully these exercises give you a better understanding of your low back pain and allow you to start making a plan of action. If you need help and would like to get started, book an appointment online or call into our clinic, Young Health Management.