Updated: Mar 3, 2019
Do you or someone you know suffer from chronic back pain? Most everyone knows someone who does, or has experienced it themselves.
The most common complaint is general back pain and stiffness and as many as eight out of 10 Americans struggle with it.
Many will resort to over-the-counter pain medications, some to stronger prescribed medications, and yet others will wait, hoping it just goes away. But this does not resolve the problem, and in some cases simply worsens it.
How would you feel if the solution was simple, fixable in the early stages, but you kept popping pain pills until you either destroyed your liver or waited so long that the only option left was surgery? Wouldn’t you really want to know the best way to tackle the pain?
What are your options?
For some time now we have been aware that back surgery may not be the answer to you chronic pain.
Often people are told they need a spinal fusion, which is good revenue for the hospital but often bad in outcomes for the patient. The spinal fusion idea arose from the assumption that disc degeneration was the source of back pain, so if you fuse it that pain goes away, right? Well, actually the success rate for pain reduction on a spinal fusion is about 20-25%.
So why keep doing them if there’s an 80% failure rate?
Well, other than profit there’s no reason, especially when the return to work rate one-year post surgery is only 15%.
Each year, some 600,000 spinal fusions are performed in the US with a high percentage of them being performed for non-specific low-back pain, at a cost of more than $600 billion. Did you catch that? Non-specific is the key word here. That means the surgeon could not determine where the pain was coming from so they fused the vertebrae to see if that did the job.
Sometimes you just have to shake your head.
Let’s look at that for a moment. We know that 50% of all x-rays and scans that show degeneration have no bearing on the pain, so at this point it makes little sense to do a surgery if the outcome has a 50% chance of having no bearing on the pain.
What does have bearing on pain is something you might not think does.
Interestingly, chronic stress and anxiety can cause pain. It actually has a name too. It’s a condition called neurophysiological disorder or NPD.
In chronic stress and anxiety your body basically becomes full of adrenaline. You are stuck in a fight or flight complex that cannot switch itself off.
As a result every organ system starts responding and acting up Your symptoms might begin with headaches, migraines, ringing in the ears, burning on your feet, itchy scalp, skin rashes, anxiety attacks, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, the list is endless but the eventual outcome is pain.
So, the question is how we get out of this endless anxiety loop... The answer is actually simpler than you think.
First you address your diet. You need to eliminate anxiety causing foods such as caffeine, fructose and sugar, and for the heavy drinkers, alcohol.
If you have a leaky gut, then you need to take steps to fix that problem. At Revibe we can help walk you through the basic steps and if your case is more complex, we can refer you to the best professionals who can help you.
Next you need to address your sleep.
Sleep is essential to your recovery.
Most people do not look at sleep as an important element to their health. And yet it is so important that chronic sleep loss will influence your weight, depression, irritability, focus and, yes, even pain.
Studies find that people who have chronic pain also tend to lose more sleep. Not just because they have pain, but even before their pain had set in, they reported poor sleep habits.
What the researchers are finding is that chronic sleep loss heightens your sensitivity to painful stimuli. In theory, a lack of sleep may contribute to chronic inflammation insofar as it prevents full daily recovery.
In other words, not only can you not catch up on lost sleep, but that lack of sleep will fail to flush the toxins from your system, leaving your inflammation intact, and contributing to your daily pain.
Research appears to back up the sleep loss theory, especially when pain killers are involved. It appears that loss of sleep blunts the full effect of any pain killers taken during the day.
Just how much sleep loss makes a difference? One study at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit recruited 18 subjects and split them into two groups, granting one group 8 hours of sleep and the other four. After four days the longer sleep group averaged 25% less pain.
This suggests that lost sleep affecting only one night can significantly reduce a person’s pain threshold.
Finally, you need to begin strength training. Especially important is using whole body vibration training to enhance the strengthening process and to essentially burn off the excess adrenalin that may be causing pain.
Let’s begin by saying that this technology is not new, it’s been around since 1960, but people who write about it seem to think it’s the latest and greatest of all exercise machines.
To be clear, scientific research on the effects of vibration therapy has been conducted all over the world. The results suggest that people with debilitating conditions may achieve the many benefits of exercise while working within their personal limitations and minimizing stress on their joints and ligaments.
Research also suggests that people with pain can benefit by significant reductions in that pain by using whole body vibration.
The question is, are there damaging effects of vibration on the human system as claimed by many. The answer is not simple, but first I want to point out that there are damaging effects of most any element on the human body with prolonged exposure.
Sound is one such entity that at the correct decibel, is very damaging. And yet we experience sound every day all day without damage.
Water can be very damaging over time, especially when you consider that water dripping on concrete over time can make a hole in it, even if a few drops on the hand have no effect.
As such, the damaging effects of long duration whole body vibration have been extensively researched. There is a strong association between jobs that expose an individual to long duration, low-frequency whole body vibration, such as tractor, truck and bus drivers, especially with increased lumbar spinal degeneration and low back pain, and muscle fatigue.
However, research has suggested that low frequency, short duration mechanical stimulation of the human body is a very safe and very effective way to exercise, strengthen musculoskeletal structures, improve sensory-motor neural pathways, improve proprioception/posture and decrease chronic low back pain.
Additionally, because of its ability to relax musculoligamentous structures and enhance flexibility, low amplitude, low frequency whole body vibration may be especially effective at lowering chronic pain.
There are two reasons generally cited where whole body vibration exercise may be useful for alleviating pain, especially low back pain.
First, low back pain is known to be associated with reduced abdominal and back extensor stabilization muscle activity, so simply strengthening these muscles can improve your pain levels.
Some writers have proposed that whole body vibration may assist in reducing low back pain by activating stretch reflexes and subsequently activating and strengthening the abdominal and back extensor stabilization muscles.
Second, low back pain is known to be associated with paravertebral muscle spasm, and it has been suggested that whole body vibration at frequencies below 20-35 Hz may reduce low back pain by inducing muscle relaxation.
These are old suggestions and unlikely to be the principle reasoning for the reduction in pain seen from session to session. However, it is likely that lowered pain is due to lower spasms of the muscles.
Whole body vibration also has an anti-inflammatory benefit which likely contributes to reducing pain.
Delving further into the pain quandary we also see that whole body vibration appears to de-stimulate nerves. But what is often not addressed is the connection of muscle activation and the production of hyaluronic acid (hy-al-uron-ic).
Ok, so hyaluronic acid (HA) may very well be the most underestimated compound in the structures of the human body.
Don’t let the acid part fool you, it’s not like an acid at all, it’s actually a glycosaminoglycan (glyco-sam-ino-gly-can) or GAG for short because no one wants to say that word too many times unless you’re trying to impress someone.
GAGs contain sulfur, chondroitin sulfate, glucosamine sulfate, glucosamine hydrochloride (in cartilage and ligaments), keratin sulfate (in cartilage, bone, and cornea), dermatan sulfate (in skin, tendons, lungs, blood vessels and heart valves), and heparin sulfate (in cell membranes).
The largest concentration of HA is found in the vitreous humor (interior fluid) of the eye, but the synovial fluid around articulating joints and in between the cells of the body and the muscles and connective tissue are all dependent on GAG.
So, hyaluronic acid or GAG is a naturally occurring compound made by, and used by all cells. It performs many important functions in the human body which include helping to deliver nutrients to cells and carry toxins from cells that do not have a blood supply, such as those found in cartilage.
HA not only keeps the cartilage that cushions joints strong and flexible, but also helps increase supplies of joint-lubricating synovial fluid.
Without adequate amounts of HA, the joints would experience lots of wear and tear, increasing their arthritic changes and leading to joint deterioration. Remember, joints are lubricated by synovial fluid and hyaluronic acid is the primary component of synovium.
So, hyaluronic acid (HA) helps to grease all membranes (the membranes around the heart, lungs, muscles and eyes) and the cartilage of joints. Like oil in your car engine, and without that oil you know what happens to the engine right?
Not only does HA keep joints lubricated, but it also encourages water retention in other bodily tissues to prevent dehydration, regardless of how much fluid you try to drink.
HA is found in large concentrations in the fluid-filled space between cells, called the extracellular matrix. Literally, HA locks moisture into the matrix, keeping collagen and elastin moist, promoting a youthful appearance. Got your attention now?
You would expect to find HA in the skin if what I am telling you were true right?
Yep, hyaluronic acid is a primary component of healthy skin, with about 50% of the HA contained in the skin matrix.
Declining skin levels of hyaluronic acid are associated with dryness, reduced flexibility, and wrinkles. Clinical studies have shown that HA also helps wounds heal more quickly, and can reduce the appearance of both old and new scars.
But there’s more.
Hyaluronic acid is now believed to play a key role in the formation of new body tissue, providing the organizing matrix around which new connective tissue is built.
In essence, hyaluronic acid acts as a template upon which new tissue can be formed.
A single molecule of HA, which may be quite long, can attach to hundreds of other structural protein molecules (amino acids), thereby assisting in the body’s building, replacement and repair functions.
This does not necessarily mean that you can take hyaluronic acid to replace other structural support nutrients such as dietary protein, glucosamine, chondroitin, MSM, sulfur, vitamin C, omega 3 fatty acid, cetyl myristoleate or bioflavonoids. No, no. These and other structural nutrients are very important because they attach to HA to produce the finished product.
But HA is sulfur based, so any product with sulfur in it, such as chondroitin, MSM, glucosamine, enhance HA’s ability to produce an anti-inflammatory effect on the body.
So what’s the best option?
The problem with too much sulfur in your food or with some supplements is that they make you feel good for a few hours, then they tend to rapidly detox you, especially the foods that have a high free thiol content.
These foods typically tend to mobilize mercury which can make you sick. So, the solution is to stimulate the cells to make hyaluronic acid.
And how do we do that?
Well, the answer lies in how HA is produced. Basically it is produced when the body has an increased need for structural support due to physical stress.
Thus, exercise, especially strength training and especially whole body vibration is one way to help stimulate HA production which in turn lubricates the cells, tissues and joints of the body and decreases pain and inflammation.
That’s pretty cool huh? Your cells throughout your body make HA as part of the natural repair and recovery process and exercise stimulates them to work better.
However, the cellular creation of hyaluronic acid is inhibited by magnesium deficiency and the release of hormones, especially adrenalin and cortisol created through stress.
Getting the picture?
A lack of exercise and stress will increase chronic pain while strength training and especially whole body vibration exercise reduce stress, reduce stress hormones and at the same time produce a protein called myokines that assist in the anti-inflammatory process and the overall reduction of pain.
Chronic pain is difficult to treat. But while some pains have an absolute reason for being there, others do not. Getting adequate sleep is a huge component of recovery. Taking control of your pain is another.
A recent study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine in 2012 found that combining exercise with chiropractic care may be the one of the best ways to control chronic pain.
According to the article, strength training will improve your posture, improve your range of motion and over all function of your body. This combination of realignment coupled with strength training (which stimulates the HA) leads to significant pain reduction and control.
If you are in pain, chiropractic care should be your first step, but seeking out a lifestyle treatment facility such as Revibe should also be part of your treatment process.
The gentle introduction of vibration to reduce pain and swelling is well observed at Revibe. By working closely with a skilled Gonstead chiropractor we can safely and effectively reinforce and stabilize adjusted joints to help the client manage their condition more effectively.
Many people do not understand that chiropractic combined with vibrational therapy allows the intervertebral disc to absorb more nutrients and reestablish healthy spacing, eliminating nerve compression pain.
In the case of structural pain, most often, the underlying cause is related to poor body mechanics, meaning your posture or muscle balance is off. This in itself can cause vertebral misalignments.
Addressing your posture (or other factors that may be contributing to the strain) and treating the condition with exercise is often effective at relieving the pain and addressing the underlying cause. If you have chronic pain of any kind, please understand that there are many safe and effective alternatives to prescription and over-the-counter painkillers, though they may require some patience.
Some strategies for controlling your pain and inflammation include:
A full posture and pain evaluation such as that offered at Revibe through a competent chiropractor or exercise physiologist
Whole body vibration strength training to stabilize adjusted joints and correct postural issues and muscular imbalances
Consider taking a high-quality, animal-based omega-3 fat like krill oil or fish oil. Omega-3 fats are precursors to mediators of inflammation called prostaglandins. (In fact, that is how anti-inflammatory painkillers work, they positively influence prostaglandins.)
Eliminate or radically reduce most grains and sugars (including fructose) from your diet. These are known to have inflammatory elements and avoiding grains and sugars will lower your insulin and leptin levels which are one of the most profound stimulators of inflammatory prostaglandin production.
Check your vitamin D3 levels and bring them to around 50ng/ml. Regular sun exposure will help your body to produce vitamin D, but supplements can be quite effective especially in winter months. ,
Consider astaxanthin as a supplement: One of the most effective oil-soluble antioxidants known. It has very potent anti-inflammatory properties and in many cases works far more effectively than NSAIDs. Higher doses are typically required and one may need 8 mg or more per day to achieve this benefit.
Ginger is also a great anti-inflammatory and analgesic herb.
A Dutch study of more than 400 people found that daily doses of vitamin C helped reduce pain in people with wrist fractures.
MSM, which stands for methylsulfonylmethane, is an organic form of sulfur. It has well documented studies on its uses for pain reduction. MSM is composed of 34% bio-available sulfur, making it the richest source of organic sulfur available.
Curcumin, the primary therapeutic compound identified in the spice turmeric is a wonderful anti-inflammatory as well as anti-carcinogen herb. Curcumin has been shown in over 50 clinical studies to have potent anti-inflammatory activity, as well as demonstrating the ability in four studies to reduce Tylenol-associated adverse health effects.
Boswellia: Also known as boswellin, contains powerful anti-inflammatory properties which have been prized for thousands of years. Studies find that this herb is an effective anti-inflammatory herb with pain reduction properties.
Bromelain: A protein-digesting enzyme found in pineapples, is a natural anti-inflammatory with pain killing properties. It can be taken in supplement form, but eating fresh pineapple may also be helpful. Keep in mind that most of the bromelain is found within the core of the pineapple, so consider leaving a little of the pulpy core intact when you consume the fruit.
Cetyl Myristoleate (CMO): is actually an oil, found in fish and dairy butter. It acts as a "joint lubricant" and an anti-inflammatory.
Evening Primrose, Black Currant and Borage Oils: These contain the fatty acid gamma linolenic acid (GLA), which is useful for treating people who have arthritic pain and nerve pain, allergies, rashes, hot flashes.
In many, if not most cases, pain can be resolved using very simple corrective strategies.
These strategies involve an evaluation of the spine, a possible chiropractic correction of any misalignment and a structural strengthening of the spine to improve that joints integrity.
The key is to find what works for you. Sometimes surgery is necessary, but surgery should only be used as a very last resort.
Perhaps that why Revibe Fitness and Wellness has aligned itself with Back Pain Relief Chiropractic? It’s an environment that provides world class Gonstead chiropractic care to address alignment issues; and it provides whole body vibration along with soft tissue work.
What’s even more exciting? We love to help people relieve their pain through a hands on approach to natural healing. But if we can’t help, we’d be the first to let you know your options, including those requiring surgery.