On occasion nearly everyone experiences short-term back pain from sore or strained muscles. But for many who come to treat their back gingerly because they fear further "injury," a cycle of worry and inactivity results; this aggravates existing muscle tightness and leads them to think of themselves as having a "bad back." Even worse is the understandable but usually counterproductive assumption that back pain is caused by "abnormalities"–bulging disks, a damaged spine, and so on. However, these abnormalities are frequently found in those who have absolutely no pain whatsoever. In reality, most backs are strong and resilient, built to support our bodies for a lifetime; truly "bad backs" are rare.
Drawing on their work with patients and studies from major scientific journals and corporations, the authors of Back Sense–all three are former chronic back pain sufferers themselves–developed a revolutionary self-treatment approach targeting the true causes of chronic back pain. It is based on conclusive evidence proving that stress and inactivity are usually the prime offenders, and it allows patients to avoid the restrictions and expense of most other treatments. After showing readers how to rule out the possibility that a rare medical condition is the source of their problem, Back Sense clearly and convincingly explains the actual factors behind chronic back pain and systematically leads readers toward recapturing a life free of back pain.
About 50 million Americans suffer back pain every year, and chronic back pain disables 1 in 40 adults. Back Sense
takes a different approach, contending that most chronic back pain is caused not by a damaged spine, but by stress, muscle tension, and inactivity. The aim is to help you reclaim your life and decrease your pain.
The spine might be damaged initially, but it usually heals on its own, the authors assert. After that, stress causes muscle tightness, which results in continued pain. Traditional treatments don't work because they treat the spine, not the stress. The solution: understand your own symptoms and pain, learn to resume full activity, and work with your negative emotions to prevent them from derailing your recuperation.
Part 1 of Back Sense helps you evaluate your own case and determine whether you have warning signs of a serious injury or disease (in which case you must get medical attention), understand the mind-body connection, and examine how stress may be causing your chronic pain. Part 2 teaches you how to bring full physical activity back into your life and manage your negative emotions.
The authors--two of whom relieved chronic back pain with this very program--do not want you to baby your body or limit your life to protect your back. Rather, they contend that "being careful actually appears to be harmful." They explain that "as long as you are trying to get rid of pain, you stay preoccupied with it," creating more tension, and by avoiding "risky" movements, you lose muscle conditioning, making you vulnerable to additional injury. The book takes you through a process of gradually incorporating more exercise and tracking your reactions. The style is simple and friendly, and the book has many plan charts, logs, and other helpful tools. --Joan Price