Relief From Back Pain in 30 Minutes

by Stuart Taws

Sound too good to be true? Not if you understand the reality of piriformis syndrome and know how to relieve it in one thirty-minute treatment. Still sound too good to be true? Please follow me, test this out and join a small group of therapists routinely taking people out of pain in periods of time previously thought to be impossible.

Most of our traditional therapies are simply not doing the job--taking pain victims to a permanent pain-free condition in just a few weeks. We are all in positions of trust. We need to be sure that the information we give our clients about their chronic pain condition is correct.

What do you do if your patient tells you that his doctor has determined that the reason for their chronic pain is that they have a bulging or herniated disc, or a degenerating disc condition. What if the doctor has decided that the neurological deficits down the leg and low back pain require a surgical procedure to alleviate root nerve pressure at L4/L5 or between L5/S1, the MRI suggests root nerve involvement. As a massage therapist, can you have a different point of view? Yes, you can.

What Your Doctor Will Not Tell You

"The rate of back surgery in the United States has continued to increase and is about 5 times that of other developed countries. In spite of the increasing surgical rates, there has been no evidence of a corresponding decrease in the rates of disability due to low back problems." (Taylor, 1994; Cherkin 1994a)

Reality Check

We need to review these medical findings--your client's medical doctor or surgeon may not be aware of these studies and their significance, or may not pass this information along:

Surgery is not decreasing the problem of low back pain.

o There are no long-term benefits to back surgery.
o Herniated discs resolve by themselves.
o Adults with no pain have degenerating disc conditions even by the age of 20.
o Degenerating or bulging discs are not responsible for nearly all low back pain.
o About 97% of low back pain is caused by soft tissue problems.
o There is no value to surgery for so called "spinal instability."
o What Your Surgeon Will Not Tell You

"In spite of the increasing surgical rates, there has been no evidence of a corresponding decrease in the rates of disability due to low back problems. Relatively high rates of imaging studies, referrals and surgery within the health care system indicates premature or otherwise inappropriate use of these interventions." (Cherkin, 1996)

"Because only a small fraction of low back pain patients present with the 'red flags,' frequent use of diagnostic tests is not necessary. The likelihood that a diagnostic test is ordered depends more on the specialty of the provider (Carey, 1985; Cherkin, 1994b), the proximity of radiographic equipment (Hillman, 1990), and the characteristics of the health care system (Carey 1995) than on the clinical presentation of the patient. Similarly, variations in rates of lumbar surgery reflect differences in the availability of surgeons rather than differences in patient need." (Cherkin, 1994b)

The Saddest Words You Will Ever Hear

o "The doctor says I've got a degenerating disc condition and wants to operate." (discectomy)
o "The doctor says I have a herniated/ruptured disc between L4/L5 and wants to operate."
o "The doctor says I've got a spinal stenosis/facet syndrome and wants to operate." (fusion)
o "The doctor says I've got a pinched nerve and wants to operate." (laminectomy)

It has been my experience that herniated disc material is rarely responsible for pain or any other neurological symptom. It is so rare that, for all practical purposes, it does not exist.

This is a minority opinion, but I am not alone. Dr. Hubert Rosomoff is a well known neurosurgeon and department chairman at the University of Miami. Through his years of surgery he has come the conclusion that herniated, bulging, slipped or degenerating discs have no relationship to the pain experienced. He printed his findings in a medical paper titled: "Do Herniated Discs Produce Pain?" published in Advances in Pain Research and Therapy, (edited by Fields, Dubner, Cervero, Jones, et al, 1985). He based his conclusions on observed inconsistencies and the logical facts of neurological pathophysiology. Continued compression of a nerve will cause it to stop transmitting pain messages after a short time. The result is numbness! How could the herniation then cause continuing pain?

One Therapist says:

"Working in an exclusive health club setting gave me the opportunity to work on athletes of all levels, from the weekend warriors to some well-known professional football players. I could help their chronic pain patterns but could not always resolve them. After learning STR and integrating the piriformis technique into a session, I would say that this alone benefitted well over fifty percent of my clients. I've found, secondary to piriformis, gluteus minimus to be a key player in the dance of chronic low back pain, creating deep and unrelenting pain in the hip that refers down the IT band. In an era in which commuters spend many hours behind the wheel (and the brake pedal), one can almost count on finding a compromised muscle length in minimus. Its release brings the success rate in treatment up further still. And in the combined release of the piriformis and minimus, I find that chronic low back pain seems to melt away."

You can forget the concept of strengthening the erectors and abs, anterior and posterior pelvic tilts, and all the other structural reasons for chronic pain, on and on, ad nauseum. These are all World War II concepts, fine for the time, but 50 years later we need to get with the program. The diagnostic tools that observe disc and vertebrae abnormalities plunge us into a world of hopelessness and self-fulfilling pain. The world of quantum physics has given us a new mandate! We can disregard the old hard science of the thirties and come up to speed with the new science of the next millennium, that has a profound regard for the accelerated healing of the body by the innate intelligence of the human spirit.


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