In the post Health Goals Last Year and Today, which I wrote back in April, I listed End Back Pain as my number one priority. I believe I’ve made some progress and there will certainly be future posts on what I learned, but first I want to go through how I started my research and the first question that jumped out at me.
I started out by dividing the back pain problem into three distinct questions.
- Cause – What exactly is the cause of the pain?
- Cure – What steps can be taken to move the back from a state of pain to a state of relief?
- Prevention – How can future episodes of back pain be prevented?
For this post, I just want to discuss #2. Why do some people get better with certain types of treatment and others don’t? What is common about the different strategies of pain relief? What is common about pain?
Pain is often the result of reduced blood flow in the target tissues. The lower levels of oxygen in the region can bring on pain, numbness or weakness. For a detailed explanation, read The Oxygen View of Pain by Dr. Majid Ali. In the comments section for the post Happy Anniversary Pain, I got feedback from TigerAl and Aviva. All three of us have experienced pain and we each have our preferred method of pain relief.
- TigerAl – chiropractor
- Aviva – acupuncture
- MAS – massage (deep tissue and Thai)
All three of those pain relief strategies have something in common. They will all increase blood flow and oxygen supply to the targeted areas of pain. And this will alleviate some or all of the associated pain. I believe this explains some of the cure, but there is another factor. The person receiving the treatment must have confidence that the method and the practitioner knows what they are doing.
Given the choice between chiropractic care, acupuncture or massage, I will always take massage. Not because it is better than the other two, but because it is the one I have the most faith in helping me. My past experiences with deep tissue and Thai massages have all been positive. Because I know TigerAl has the same confidence in her chiropractor and Aviva has in her acupuncturist, I wouldn’t try and convince them to switch to deep tissue massage. They have found what works best for them.
In each case, an increase of oxygen is being delivered to the point of pain. Whether that happens via skeletal manipulation, pressure points or muscular pressure is most likely irrelevant. Having confidence in the pain relief strategy and the practitioner is most important. At least that is what I discovered while researching this question.