The Functional Back

Back pain self-treatment featuring the Hubble Method

What Prevents You From Losing Your Back Pain? Part 1 of 2

Have you thought about why you can’t escape your back pain? Thinking back on my back pain saga of over a decade, I realize there were some specific roadblocks preventing me from losing the pain. See if you recognize any of them.

I broke my back, badly. Despite three major surgeries, dozens of pain management procedures, narcotics and other drugs, I was still in severe, disabling pain. Today we’ll focus on the major reason why, and the next post will cover the causes stemming from it.

Believe it or not, the major reason I couldn’t lose my back pain was the combination of all the diagnoses I had been labeled with, and the treatments I had undergone. Here’s a partial list:

Diagnoses:

  • Spondylolisthesis
  • Cauda equine syndrome
  • Failed back syndrome
  • Lumbar facet syndrome
  • Sacroiliac dysfunction
  • Epidural adhesions
  • Sciatica

Treatments:

  • Surgeries: lumbar fusion, decompression and laminectomy
  • Pain management procedures: epidurals (at least 10), trigger point injections, facet blocks (at least 5), radiofrequency ablation (3), neuroplasty
  • Physical therapy: traction, stretching, ultrasound, core exercises
  • Pain medication: nerve pain medication, narcotics, muscle relaxants

Each diagnosis would lead to a new treatment, with yet another doctor cautioning me that, due to my extensive list of diagnoses, the treatment may not work. It was like an excuse. I was caught in an endless loop of diagnoses, treatments, and platitudes.

It left me feeling tremendously unhealthy, defeated, suffocated and powerless. It was all I could do not to feel paranoid and betrayed by my body as my anxiety grew with each medical visit. H. Gilbert Welch, MD, a professor of medicine at Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice, has a name for this: Overdiagnosis. He wrote a book about it, Overdiagnosed: Making People Sick in the Pursuit of Health.

Tune in next time to find out what roadblocks overdiagnosis leads to. Meanwhile, what holds you back from losing your back pain?

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