By Steve Hefferon, CMT, CPTA
With all the technological advancements in medicine and pain treatment programs, you’d think back pain would be a thing of the past. Unfortunately pain is a mysterious beast with many origins and there is not always a clear-cut cause or treatment. Luckily for you, we at The Healthy Back Institute stay on top every important treatment, medicine and tools to ease back pain.
Despite our best-selling Lose the Back Pain System, all natural supplements and a variety back pain products, people are still suffering without a clue as to how to treat their pain. Why?
The primary reason is our desire to place one label on our back pain. We like things cut and dry, particularly difficult to understand things including a herniated disc, sciatic or spinal stenosis or many other back pain problems. The unfortunate truth is that very rarely can back pain be chalked up to just one diagnosis. It is usually caused by at least two conditions and this is known as Mixed Pain Syndrome.
Pain Relief Goals
When it comes to relieving pain the goal is two-fold: reduce or get rid of back pain altogether and prevent the reoccurrence of pain in the future. Once you have clearly identified your pain relief objectives, you can take the necessary steps required for success. Achieving these goals requires different actions to be taken and you need to know what they are.
There are two reasons and options that will help you better understand Mixed Pain Syndrome.
Reason #1 for Pain: Local Neuropathic / Mechanical Compression
Reason #2 for Pain: Nociceptive / Irritation Due to Inflammation
Correcting either of these issues requires specific areas to be addressed. In particular you will need to focus on the physical body, the mind-body connection and deficiencies or excesses of nutrients and vitamins.
The treatments we endorse at The Healthy Back Institute address the main issues that can aid in the recovery process instead of merely addressing the symptoms. One of the major issues that can arise when treating back pain is that many of us focus on treating symptoms rather than underlying causes.
Reevaluate Your Diagnosis
If you are clear about your pain objectives, you must be willing to reevaluate your symptoms and consider that you may have mixed pain syndrome. This means addressing both the soft tissue as well as compression issues that will result in the most efficient healing. Efficient healing means a willingness to experiment with different treatment plans and professionals until you find the right combination of treatments that work. Focusing on one treatment—like massage therapy—will help relieve the pain but it will not address all issues relating to your pain.
Different pathophysiological mechanisms are at work with chronic sciatica, so that nociceptive and neuropathic pain components are easy to distinguish. Neuropathic pain can be caused by lesions of nociceptive sprouts in the degenerated disc (local neuropathic), mechanical compression of nerve roots (mechanical neuropathic root pain), or by inflammatory mediators (inflammatory neuropathic root pain) that originate in the degenerative disc without requiring any mechanical compression.
There a variety of causes of sciatic pain, which is why the need for mixed pain syndrome arose. The many pain components of pain related to chronic sciatica makes it difficult to diagnose them with the current diagnostic tools available.
Current pain relief strategies for chronic sciatica rely on Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs that have been known to relieve nociceptive pain. Nociceptive pain refers to any one or a combination of soft tissue trauma that can trigger points, inflammation and scar tissue.
Treating neuropathic pain may require a variety of therapeutic approaches that include anticonvulsants as well as antidepressants.
A Multi-Treatment Approach
Since we now that that the majority of back pain patients are suffering from a minimum of two causes, it is suggested that your pain relief regimen treats the pain symptoms as well as the underlying causes to prevent future instances of pain.
First, you should work on pain reduction by relying on one or more of the following treatments:
- Pain relief creams and ointments (Rub on Relief)
- Anti-inflammatory aids like Heal-n-Soothe
- Infrared heat treatments (Healthy Heat Far Infrared Pad)
- Changes in diet and lifestyle (eliminate wheat, dairy, sugar, fried foods)
Then, treat the underlying causes to prevent back pain in the future by:
- Acknowledging that you have a muscle imbalance and find professional help to treat it. Read our Lose the Back Pain System to find out what needs to be done.
- Focusing on relaxing the tension in the muscles and relax muscle spasms using our Trigger Point Therapy System.
- Decompress the spine using inversion therapy
This list provides a good starting point for treating mixed pain syndrome; however this alone may not help. If you need more help refer to a professional back pain specialist and let us know what works for you!