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DR. SCOTT COOK: Back pain mistakes to avoid

by on December 17, 2013 11:00 AM

With more than 8,000 patients in our office and tens of thousands of treatments, we have found that there are a number of common mistakes people make in trying to find relief from back pain.

Here are four of the top mistakes:

Mistake 1: Continuing to do what doesn’t work

Why would anyone keep going to a doctor or therapists for months and months without seeing any improvement? If what you’re doing isn’t working ... Stop! Find someone who can and will help you.

Mistake 2: Not dealing with pain the first time

Deal with the problem now. Waiting will only make things worse.

Mistake 3: Treating only the symptoms

The majority of the treatments people receive for back pain — cortisone shots, anti-inflammatory drugs, ultrasound, electrical stimulation and the like — address only the symptoms. You must understand that pain is merely a signal that something is wrong. Even if you get rid of the pain, the problem is still going to be there.

Mistake 4: Imbalanced muscles

Most of the time, back pain and sciatica take weeks, months or even years to develop. But you’re not aware that there’s a problem until something starts to hurt. Rarely is back pain the result of a one-time incident. Barring an injury, it just doesn’t happen overnight.

Here is an example: A child was learning to walk, so the dad put up a baby gate at the foot of the stairs. Being lazy, Dad would lift his leg over the gate rather than opening it and walking through. He did this more than 30 times a day.

One afternoon, he was cutting the grass and felt a radiating pain in his butt. The next time he cut the grass, the same thing happened.

He eventually figured out that the awkward movement of stepping over the gate time after time had created a muscle imbalance. Driving to work, sitting at a desk, or performing some other seemingly routine activity can do the same thing.

Imbalanced cyclists, for example, almost without exception have serious muscle imbalances in the lower body — primarily their quads, hamstrings, hip flexors and buttock muscles. This is because the constant repetitive motion of peddling a bicycle overworks one set of muscles while under-working other muscles.

Try this analogy: You’re driving your car down the road and the car’s front end is out of alignment. This is going to cause the tires to wear unevenly. This can also happen to your muscles. If you correct the imbalance, the condition that’s causing the pain will go away.

Once you know where these imbalances are, you can work toward correcting them by doing a combination of targeted exercises, stretches and self-treatments specifically designed for your condition. Another important thing to keep in mind: X-rays, MRIs and CT scans do not reveal muscle imbalances or postural imbalance. Only a qualified health care specialist can do this.

Call a chiropractor or a back specialist today to begin living the life you deserve, pain-free. In the end, the power is in your hands.

Dr. Scott R. Cook D.C., ACRRT, operates Cook Chiropractic and Rehabilitation in Indiana.
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