One of the first places many people go when they experience back pain is the orthopedic specialist (surgeon) and a visit usually last 5-10 minutes. They will typically look at the problem/symptomatic area and often fail to look at the body as a whole. If you’ve been to an orthopedic specialist for your back pain, did they do a full body physical evaluation (takes 30 mins. or more)??? Not likely.
here are some of the common treatments used / prescribed by orthopedic specialists:
Cortisone is a catabolic steroid which is intended to reduce inflammation by killing off the tissue in the inflamed area… now let me ask you, does that make any sense to you at all?
Not only are these injections quite painful, but they rarely result in any pain relief and if they do it is short lived, usually 1-2 weeks if at all. Plus, it does NOTHING to identify or address the cause of the pain… it is only intended to treat the symptom. It’s for those reasons that we do not recommend them.
Just the name should scare you away… just like cortisone shots, anti-inflammatory medications do not identify or address the cause of your pain and for many people, they deliver little pain relief. These medications also deliver serious side effects! The main reason they are prescribed is money… and if you don’t believe me, do the research and you’ll see for yourself. The drug industry is huge and unfortunately, they have a huge influence on the whole medical community, including the doctors.
I challenge you to find a drug that will fix your back problem… you’ll be looking forever because there is no way a medication can fix a physical problem so avoid medications at all costs!
Surgery for back pain is very common and more often than not, the individual still has pain afterwards (or it returns within weeks) and sometimes even new problems! Very rarely is a surgery the answer…
for example, many people have surgery for herniated discs. The logic behind the surgery is if you remove the piece/portion of the disc that is putting pressure on the nerve the problem is solved. Unfortunately, the same forces that forced that disc to protrude or bulge will likely force more of the disc out, or another disc out.
Surgery should always be the last resort… and even then I’d question it!
Physical Therapy is traditionally the next step after seeing an Orthopedic Doctor. That is if surgery is not recommended. So what should you expect? The process will start with an evaluation and here may be the start of the problem… here is why…. the doctor has to write a prescription with a diagnosis on it. You give the prescription to the PT and he or she will perform an evaluation… chances are the PT will simply confirm the diagnosis from the doctor, however the hope should be that they take the extra step to look for the root cause of your pain. They may but chances are they have several other clients in the office at the same time and simply do not have the time.
So without a comprehensive evaluation to identify the root cause of you pain they will simply treat your symptoms. We have just identified the second problem. The health care industry is required to show improvement with each and every session so the push is to reduce your symptoms to show progress in order for them to get paid. The long and short of it is that yes your pain can be reduced but the root cause rarely gets addressed, meaning that the pain and your suffering will return again and again.
So what should you do? When selecting a Physical Therapy office you may want to ask how many patients the office sees in a day and how many PTs they have on staff… then ask how many patients can a PT work with in an hour. Do not be surprised to hear that a PT can see up to three patients in an hour. That’s you and two others at the same time. Do you think you will get the attention and proper treatments you need? I doubt it.
There is a little joke in Physical Therapy when treating patients and it has to do with what course of modalities you will get. The joke is called Shake and Bake and it refers to everyone gets the same treatment protocol… that way it can be timed so that your PT can see other people simultaneously. What goes into a shake and bake treatment? It may start with a spin on a stationary bike or a trot a treadmill than you will get a 3 to 5 minute Ultrasound over the effected area followed by Electrical Stimulation to the area with a little Ice strapped to your body and to finish off your session you will get a hand out with exercises you should do at home. Certainly not a recipe for success!
Manual Physical (muscle) Therapy
Manual Physical Therapy is NOT the same as regular physical therapy… there are some major differences and here are just a few:
1. Manual therapy consists of hands on muscle work primarily whereas traditional physical therapy consists of heat, ice, ultrasound, electrical stimulation, etc
2. Manual therapist will typically perform a much more thorough physical evaluation
3. Manual therapists will usually be able to spend more time with each patient
4. Manual therapy is more holistic in it’s approach and focuses the body as a whole unit… something lacking from nearly all traditional treatments for back pain.
So before you say, “I’ve already tried physical therapy”… did you try manual physical therapy? They are two very different treatment approaches and I highly recommend you consider manual physical therapy.