Dr. Nathan Kadlecek, PT
Is a physical therapist committed to providing high quality health information, largely focused on lower back pain and the gross overuse of diagnostic imaging, medication, surgery, low quality treatment methods, and the over-diagnosis of pain conditions. He's also a powerlifter, pain nerd, macro-scale thinker, and wants to help you think differently about pain, healthcare, and life.
When I type in “why does my lower back hurt?” or “what causes lower back pain,” this is what comes up.
Most low back pain is the result of an injury such as muscle sprains or strains due to sudden movements or poor body mechanics while lifting heavy objects. Low back pain can also be the result of certain diseases, such as: cancer of the spinal cord or a ruptured or herniated disc.
Upon reading this, you might think, “yep, that makes total sense. If I bend or twist the wrong way or use poor mechanics while lifting heavy objects, then that’s definitely a cause, and, it’s an injury.”
What if I told you though that this line of thinking is old news from the early and mid 1900’s?
And… that it’s unhelpful, leads to more disability, and lower quality of life.
Do you really want to be stuck in that old way of thinking?
I really hope the answer is no. Let’s jump into the 21st century.
(Yes, there are some instances where this is the cause, but most of the time it’s not those injuries/diseases stated above, AND, there is the context around it… read on to find out more)
Currently, in the United States, it’s estimated that there are 16 million people who have chronic lower back pain.
“Some 16 million adults — 8 percent of all adults — experience persistent or chronic back pain, and as a result are limited in certain everyday activities. Back pain is the sixth most costly condition in the United States. Health care costs and indirect costs due to back pain are over $12 billion per year. “
As you can see, it’s a huge issue. And that $12 billion per year, that’s just on out-of-pocket spending. When you combine neck and lower back pain together it’s $380 billion, with a B. That’s more than Jeff Bezo’s net worth, every year.
Pain is protective. Pain informs us of potential or actual tissue damage and potential or actual danger.
Pain tries to protect us from dangerous stimuli, to keep us alive. The frustrating part though, is that pain is NOT ALWAYS associated with true danger, oftentimes we feel and experience pain, even when there is no actual danger or tissue damage.
Pain is like a smoke alarm… when your smoke alarm is working properly it notifies of danger due to a fire and you get to safety. Pain does the same thing if you fracture something or experience some other type of trauma. It notifies you that you need help.
But… our smoke detector doesn’t always work so well… it malfunctions… you’ve experience it...
Cooking a delicious meal and an invisible amount of smoke reaches the smoke detector. It trips the smoke detector and all of sudden the house is in a panic, trying to find a pillow to wave rapidly over the detector to turn it off (kind of like us rubbing a sore spot).
Keep this thought in mind as we go through the rest of this video.