If I had a dollar for every person, I’ve either talked to or seen in my practice who is in pain and has no clue what caused it, I probably would be able to buy a small Caribbean Island. When we’re in pain, only one thing matters, having it go away as quickly as possible.
I used to have a lot more pain (lower back and neck) in my late 30s and early 40s than I do in my late 40s and now into my mid-50s. I really feel for people in pain because you filter everything in life through that pain, it’s all-consuming. I treat and talk to people in pain daily and I’ve come to learn a lot about how and why people suffer from acute and chronic pain of “unknown” origin.
Here is what I’ve learned, 90% of your pain is usually not ONE thing, it’s a combination of multiple things and the most common causes can fit into 3 categories. If you or someone you love suffers from frequent back pain, see if your, or their pain, fits into one or a combination of all of these categories.
1. Physical causes- Poor posture and alignment, weak core muscles, old trauma causing scar tissue to build up in the spine, sitting and compressing your back every day for years. All these things cause misalignment in the spine and when joints aren’t in their proper position, let’s just say that bad things can happen. I could write a book on this. However, all you need to know is that the spine and nervous system function without pain when there is no misalignment, distortion, or strain on them.
2. Emotional causes- In his book, “Healing Back Pain”, Dr. John Sarno discusses in detail how emotional stress and repressed negative emotions can cause chronic back pain. You know what? He is correct. I think this was a big cause of my back pain 10-15 years ago. I wasn’t very good at expressing my emotions, except when they built up to a slow boil like a pressure cooker ready to explode. Daily negative thoughts and emotions create tension and inflammation. It’s a lot easier to “pull your back out” when it’s tense and inflamed. I recently had a friend who is in great shape (he owns a gym) pulled his lower back out badly, and he was in a lot of pain, he could hardly walk. He is a very stoic person and let’s say I don’t think he meditates or journals his feelings. He had no clue what happened or how his back went out. However, I did, he lost his dog whom he loved very much (he doesn’t have children) a couple of days before his back went out. When he told me about losing his dog, I could tell he was in a lot of emotional pain. The next day, without warning or a "known" reason, his back went out. Coincidence? I don’t think so.
3. Chemical causes- We are an “inflammation nation”. We eat and drink in such a way that we promote chronic inflammation in the body. Sugar, alcohol, drugs, fast food, and processed food with many chemicals all create inflammation and inflammation triggers pain. When it comes to how we eat and drink, we are pouring gas on our bodies every day waiting for the match to show up.
As the famous saying goes, “I have seen the enemy and it is us”. Every reaction (pain) has a cause, and every action creates a reaction in the body. Just because we don’t know what’s causing our pain, doesn’t mean there isn’t a cause. It’s very liberating and freeing to wake up every day without pain. I consider it one of my biggest blessings and freedoms. I am able to do what I want without being limited or restricted by pain. My quality of life at 54 is as good as when I was in my early 30s and this isn’t by accident, I meditate and pray daily, I work on my spinal mobility, posture, and core strength weekly, I get adjusted regularly, I eat and supplement in a way to reduce inflammation. Some might say I’m just lucky that I don’t ever have acute or chronic pain. However, I don’t believe that, although I believe in luck, luck (good or bad) is uncontrollable. The bigger reason people live a life free from pain is knowing what to do and more importantly, doing it.
Best in Health,
PS: Please share this with someone you know who is suffering from pain.