Relieving Back and Hip Pain
by Richard Leviton
Article used with permission
Everyone knows what back pain feels like,
but what causes it? Common sense says back pain is caused
by a pulled or strained muscle or a damaged or misaligned
spinal vertebra, and common sense is often right, just not
Back pain specialists within the field of alternative medicine
have a host of other theories-and the clinical proof, in the
form of healed patients, to support them. According to these
practitioners, while back pain may of course be precipitated
by a physical strain, back pain also may be caused by chronic
constipation, old surgical scars, and imbalances in the body's
vital energy flow.
So if you're one of the 70% to 85% of adults
who experience back pain, before agreeing to anti-inflammatory
drugs or back surgery, consider the alternatives, such as
massage therapy, chiropractic, herbal and dietary therapy,
neural therapy, and acupuncture. Any of these approaches,
as the following case histories show, can get you back to
your life without pain recurrence or toxic drug side effects.
Back Pain Caused by Untreated Physical Injury Elliot Greene,
N.C.T.M.B., a nationally certified massage therapist, based
in Silver Spring, Maryland, sees a lot of back pain cases
which are the result of initial physical injuries left unaddressed,
sometimes for years.
Consider the case of Lytton, 48, who came
to Greene's office complaining of painful shoulder pain and
spasms. They were sufficiently severe as to prevent him from
playing tennis; even writing became nearly impossible as his
arm and shoulder would be seized with cramps. Six months earlier,
while chopping firewood, Lytton had felt a muscle pull around
his right shoulder blade. The pain and disability progressed
steadily from that point, he told Greene. He'd start playing
tennis, then his right arm would freeze up with pain. Lytton
went the usual round of standard consultations, getting steroid
shots from one doctor, physical therapy from another, but
his condition did not improve. "He came to see me as
a last resort," says Greene.
When he first touched Lytton's shoulder blade
muscles, Greene found them to be as hard as rock-"extensively
contracted, as nearly all the muscle fibers had been 'recruited'
to produce the chronic spasm. The spasm made it difficult
and painful for Lytton to move his shoulder and arm."
In a serious strain, such as Lytton's, many
of the fibers of muscles and connective tissue rupture and
tear. Then the body attempts to heal this by growing scar
tissue in the area. Trouble occurs when the site, without
proper intervention, never gets fully healed and remains a
little inflamed, painful, and in spasm, Greene explains. "Further
complications can result if the scar tissue has grown so it
interferes with the normal functioning of the muscle fibers.
This can lead to painful movement and less range of motion."
In Greene's professional perspective, Lytton's
case was perfect for deep-tissue, hand-delivered massage therapy.
He explains that the massage has to focus on "restoring
circulation, reducing chronic muscle tension, and influencing
how the scar tissue has formed so that it doesn't interfere
with the ability of the muscle fibers to contract and lengthen
properly nor adhere to adjoining structures." To do this
safely and effectively, a thorough knowledge of human musculoskeletal
anatomy is required, which happens to be a massage therapist's
Greene treated Lytton weekly for ten months,
working the muscles around the painful shoulder blade and
the rest of his back. With this type of injury, improvement
is dependable, although gradual. After about four weeks, Lytton
felt a marked improvement. He started taking stretching and
yoga classes to promote greater flexibility.
Lytton, when younger, had been more physically
active, but as his forties progressed, he tended to minimize
the role of exercise in his life. After his initial injury,
he ignored the signals his body was sending, thinking the
problem would "go away," until he could barely move
his arm without pain.
Now, as he recovered from this disability,
"he saw he needed to take a more active approach to his
physical fitness," comments Greene. At the end of the
treatment, Lytton had regained full use of his shoulder with
completely pain-free range of motion. He also started to understand
that the next time he had a physical strain, "getting
the treatment started sooner rather than later would be a
much better idea," says Greene.
In his second case study, Greene shows what
happens when you let a serious back injury go for 15 years
before getting correct treatment for it. Neville, 40, a former
soldier, had, when he was 25, fallen seven feet out of a hovering
helicopter and landed square on his shoulder with all the
weight of his equipment on it as well. He received emergency
first aid, enough to suppress the pain, and was sent back
"Neville never really had any therapy
for his shoulder injury," Greene notes and, over the
next 15 years, his shoulder became painful and steadily lost
its range of motion.
When he examined Neville's shoulder, Greene
found that the tissue scarring was so extensive that it had
adhered to the outermost layer of bone (producing stabbing
pain) and was starting to calcify. As Greene explains, sometimes
a very deep tear in a muscle disturbs the tissue covering
the bone, which leads to new bone being laid down on the muscle
wound. "This area of calcified scar tissue was about
the size of a 25¢ coin and felt like bone," says
The goal of treatment, then, was to loosen
this adhesion, break up the scar tissue, increase blood circulation
through it, let the body absorb the bony part of the muscle
wound, and restore the muscle's normal range of motion. It
took about a year of regular massage treatments, but at the
end of it Neville was able to move his arm again without pain.
In fact, he was so impressed with Greene's therapy, that afterwards
he became a massage therapist himself.
to Page 2
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Be sure to visit the Glucosamine
Product Guide for a review of commercially available glucosamine
products broken down by 9 different categories such as price per month, quality and type. Learn what the best products out there are
and how we ranked each.