Is Back Pain Really an Injury?

June 26, 2014 in STSMPT

Recurring back pain is an example of a problem that can be treated sub-optimally when treated as a traditional injury.  Some have argued that chronic back pain is no more an injury than a heart attack is an injury.  Using the right treatment model creates a greater chance of long-term success.

Here’s what they mean when they say chronic back pain is not an injury.  From a treatment perspective, an injury is caused by a single, reasonable insult such as a car hitting you or falling off your bike at 20 miles per hour.  Once the injury is healed and the muscles are strengthened back to their original state, the job of the health care professionals is done.

Because chronic back pain does not result from a single injury, simply returning a patient to a previous state does not correct the problem.  Chronic back pain is actually caused by cumulative microtrauma.  Cumulative microtrauma means your back suffers many smaller insults on a routine basis (e.g. sleeping in a bad posture, sitting on a wallet, bending over to pick up the children, carrying your briefcase on the same side every day).  Ideally, the strength and conditioning of your back enables you to absorb these insults or heal quickly enough that there is no problem.  Occasionally, the accumulation of these smaller injuries overcomes your strength and conditioning to create an acute episode of back pain.

Think about how often people with back pain report that the pain started with an activity that they do every day.  “I picked up this piece of paper, bent over incorrectly, and injured my back,” one might say.  This is technically incorrect.  This person began the process of injuring their back a long time ago.

Truly correcting a chronic back pain problem requires a different mindset than thinking of the back pain as an injury.  Getting rid of the pain for now is not the solution, because the back pain most often returns and sometimes gets worse.  Real treatment for back pain involves giving you a back that is stronger, more conditioned, and better prepared for the cumulative microtrauma of your life.  We can help give you the guidance and knowledge you need to truly overcome back pain long-term.  If you know someone with chronic back pain, please have him or her get in touch with us today.

Back Pain Really Injury

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