My goal for patients is to get them moving again without any pain. That's the key. It's not enough just to make them comfortable, I want them to be strong and fit and enjoy life fully. But that takes a little commitment, and for some, a new way of thinking about pain and movement.
The dean of psychology at Michigan State once told me, “Everything in life is motivated by only two drivers—fear or love". In the case of debilitating back pain, fear is a huge driver of our action or inaction.
The number one fear is that back pain will make us dependent on other people
I had severe back pain for almost two years in college. I remember not being able to put my shoes on, not being able to lift anything heavier than a gallon of milk. I had a hard time walking or sitting. I couldn't go to class. I depended on people to bring me my class work so I could do my assignments, study for tests, and pass the class. I had a great friend at the time who was helping me, but it was so hard depending on someone else. The thought of losing independence is the number one fear for back pain sufferers.
The number two fear is that back pain will never go away
When we are struggling with back pain for any length of time, we can be thinking it might not ever go away. I remember thinking, after a year of constant back pain, “I'm only 24 years old, my life will be changed forever, how can I keep going?” For some people, the fear having a higher risk of heart attack, obesity and diabetes because they can no longer keep up their exercise routine is also a real concern.
I was actually convinced, at the time, that my back pain was never going to go away. I did, eventually, find a solution, but it wasn’t until after I had a failed back surgery.
Another big fear is, will I need surgery?
That’s another big fear—will I need surgery? While complications from back surgery like infections, excess bleeding, nerve or spinal cord damage, paralysis or death happen less than 8% of the time, there are enough back surgeries in the US (half a million annually) to make the number of patients with complications about 40,000 a year.
But what if back surgery doesn’t work? The American Society of Anesthesiologists report on their website that 20-40% of back surgeries fail. 1 That’s what happened to me. After healing from the surgery and getting off pain medications, my back pain returned. Why? Because the surgeon did not fix the root cause of my pain, which was not anything wrong with my spine, but a musculoskeletal dysfunction in my hips! It wasn’t until I started physical therapy school and one of my instructors began working with me to get more rotation in my hips that my back pain—finally—went away.
What if I move the wrong way and hurt my back worse?
Another fear is being afraid to move the wrong way. If no one has figured out the pattern of your pain—what makes it flare up, it's really scary trying to go about daily life, not knowing what's going to cause the next sudden bout of back pain. This can lead people to move even less and cause more problems down the road.
Feeling Helpless is a Big Fear Too
That feeling of being helpless and unable to take care of your responsibilities can lead to hopelessness and wondering:
- Will I be able to care for my family (children, grandchildren, or even parents)?
- Will I be able to keep my job and provide for my family?
- Will I be able to enjoy the activities that I love?
It’s important to understand fear as a motivator, but we need to harness that fear and use that to move into our desires. Pain-free motion leads to independence. At Superior Physical Therapy we have the knowledge and expertise to move you from fear to action, and action to independence.
We know how to find the root cause of your back pain, whether it’s your hips not rotating like mine were not, or limited motion in your upper spine, or any number of other musculoskeletal dysfunctions. And we know the exact exercises, movements, stretches or other therapy that will fix the root cause and keep your pain away.
Our hope is to educate and empower you to finally heal your body naturally and avoid medications, injections, and surgery. We can take fear and turn it into action and change how you move forever!
Watch the Video: https://youtu.be/ofW2V8PYBBY