What Are the Back Facts?
CHRONIC BACK PAIN has been the scourge of the American people since the forties. It affects comfort, as well as the ability to focus and maintain any work effort.

Back operations are the fastest growing surgery in this country. There are now about 400,000 back surgeries a year and 150,000 to 200,000 are spinal fusions. However, studies have shown that about half of these operations are failures.

drawing of a spine

Your spine might not look like the one next door.

Whatever name has been given to your back pain — and there are many — the cause is usually muscles, not the spine. Diagnoses such as spinal stenosis, spondylosis, spondylolisthesis, degenerating discs, and bulging discs most likely follow an imaging study. These names generally mean that your spine doesn’t look perfect or like the spine next door to you.

spine drawing with muscle-ropes

Muscles are like ropes, and if yours has a knot it can pull you out of line.

What the doctor does not tell you is that there are many people with these “conditions” but they don’t have any muscle pain, muscle cramps, or muscle spasm. At the Institute of Rehabilitation, New York University, Bellevue Medical Center, the doctors say that so many bad discs have been found in post mortems done on persons who never complained of back pain that the damaged disc can hardly be called the main villain.

If you suffer from chronic back pain you are familiar with the odyssey… First you gimp around for a few days. When your pain doesn’t go away, you try eating aspirin and lying on a heating pad. That doesn’t work so you finally go to the doctor who tells you to rest and gives you a prescription for a muscle relaxant.

After a week the pain is worse so you go for an x-ray — and they find nothing. On to the orthopedist, the neurologist, the chiropractor and the psychiatrist… If you are a woman it must all be in your head. When all else fails you may even be told that you have nonspecific low back pain or “we don’t know what is causing it.”

It’s My Muscles?
About 85% of the time back pain is a combination of these conditions: 1) chronic muscle deficiency from lack of exercise, 2) chronic strain due to poor musculature, and 3) chronic pain due to trigger points (discussed below) causing the inadequate muscle to go into spasms.

About 85% of all back pain is muscle related.

drawing of person in bed

We sat down and we didn’t get up.

So How Did All This Happen?
The living body evolved millions of years ago when survival depended on muscles. It is a self-sustaining unit in which every part is dependent on every other part. The master muscle, the heart, depends on help from auxiliary pumps in the extremities, hips, and butt muscles. Action in those muscles takes the strain off of the heart by squeezing blood back through veins to the main station. Unfortunately, what nature provided millions of years ago, man has made useless in a couple of centuries and we, the leaders in technology, may be leading this civilization to its destruction.

Now What? Myotherapy? What’s That?
In 1976, Bonnie Prudden developed a discipline called Myotherapy, a way to erase muscle pain — and that includes your back pain: www.bonnieprudden.com.

Bonnie Prudden Myotherapy® is described in detail in Pain Erasure the Bonnie Prudden Way and Myotherapy: Bonnie Prudden’s Complete Guide to Pain- free Living. Pain Erasure has been in print for 33 years, a testament to its value and its efficacy.

In a nutshell, Myotherapy is a combination of pressure to trigger points and reeducation of the muscle using corrective exercises. The method is so simple that it has been successfully taught to six year olds.

drawing of trigger points on back pocket area

The major trigger points for back pain are in your back pocket area.

What Is A Trigger Point?
A trigger point is an irritable spot that gets into the muscle when the muscle is injured in some way. Other names that may be used are muscle pressure points or tender points.

Trigger points are accumulated throughout life in six major ways: birth, occupations, sports, injuries, hobbies, and disease. Each of these has its own way of recording trigger points in your muscles. For instance, the soccer player will have major trigger points in the neck and the legs, especially on the inside of the legs. The dental hygienist will have them in her upper back, arm, and hand. The cellist may have them in her low back and wrist. The person who fell hard on the tailbone will have them in the seat muscles. Wherever there is a trigger point, there is also the potential for muscle spasm, muscle cramps, and muscle pain.

Just One More Thing? Oh No — Stress!
Trigger points + Stress + Triggering mechanism = Chronic Pain

Whether the stress is good or bad we all have it, every day. No matter what lays down the trigger points, emotional stress — which is a part of living — plays a major role in chronic pain.

This is how it works: 1) We gather our trigger points throughout our lives: birth, accidents, occupations, sports, disease, hobbies, etc. 2) We heal, but our trigger points (our weak links: old injuries) stay with us as we go on our way… 3) UNTIL the emotional stress heats up… You get the guy or you don’t. You get the divorce or you don’t. You get a new puppy but he chews up your rugs. Your muscles begin to tighten. Your emotional climate sets you up for a… 4) Triggering Mechanism. This can be as simple as picking up the box or falling of the footstool. But when it happens you begin to get pain.

drawing of two evaluating selves

Evaluate your current situation.

Six-Year-Olds Have Been Taught to Do This?
The method is as easy as 1 Search, 2 Squash. and 3 Stretch. 1) Search: Locate the trigger points — asindividual as your own fingerprints; 2) Squash: Apply seven seconds of pressure to where it hurts; and 3) Stretch: Stretch the affected muscles with simple exercises.

Both books Pain Erasure and Myotherapy describe, in detail and in layman’s terms, exactly what to do: how to test your muscles and find out which ones are causing your back pain, how to find your trigger points, how to erase your trigger points, and how to stay pain free.

How Long Will It Take to Feel Better?
Most people usually feel better after just one session. First, you will have less pain. Second, you will probably notice that you sleep better. Third, you will be less irritable. Fourth, your self-image will improve. Fifth, you will be more independent, and sixth — you will have more energy.

drawing of cat back / tired horse exercise

Your muscles need to be strong and flexible.

What Do We Need to Learn?
When you learn to get rid of your muscle pain, you don’t have to be afraid any more. We must face the fact that emotional climate plays a star role in chronic pain. First, understand the problem; second, get rid of the pain. Third, get fit, with plenty of endurance. Then, if the climate of your life is unbearable, change it.

And if you need help contact Enid at www.bonnieprudden.com.

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Pictures and drawings are from Myotherapy: Bonnie Prudden’s Complete Guide to Pain-free Living, Pain Erasure the Bonnie Prudden Way, or from Bonnie Prudden Corrective Exercises.

For more information about Bonnie Prudden®, Bonnie Prudden Myotherapy®, workshops, books, self-help tools, DVDs, educational videos, and blogs, visit www.bonnieprudden.com. Or call 520-529-3979 if you have questions or need help.

Enid Whittaker, Managing Director, Bonnie Prudden Myotherapy®