Say you are at the doctors for back pain and you are told that you have functional scoliosis. The imaging shows your spine being tugged out of an easy straight and stacked line. While this can provide some relief knowing how things are presenting, how does this information empower you to take your next steps?
Equally important questions to ask are: Why are the muscles on one side of my spine stuck so short and tight? What effect does this have on my spine and muscles on the opposite side?
Understanding the why, then leads to options for a solution. We would argue that the diagnosis in this case is somewhat unhelpful, without greater understanding of the cause or the offer of solutions.
When we are seeking relief from discomfort, a diagnosis can feed our fears and pigeon hole us into thinking - well this is what I’ve got and I guess I am just going to have to live with it.
You might even think, I am broken and I will never be pain free.
We have worked with many clients with back pain who are told that they better just learn to live with it, that there is nothing they can do. We can cite many cases where a client just like this has come to us seeking relief and after learning some new technique were successfully able to reduce or resolve their pain and get back to the things they enjoy in life.
What about bulged disks? So you get imaging done that shows a bulged disk.
Does this affect how you approach your rehabilitation?
Does this influence your pain body knowing this information?
Does this diagnosis help or harm?
It is interesting to know that “64% of people with no back pain have disk bulges, protrusions, herniations, or disk degeneration, and 38% of those studied had an abnormality at more than one level. This came from a study titled “Magnetic resonance imaging of the lumbar spine in people without back pain” published in the New England Journal of Medicine in July 1994 (Source accessed Jan 13, 2022: https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/nejm199407143310201).
So while the biomedical model used in modern medicine focuses on finding structural causes in order to “fix” them, “in the case of chronic pain the biomedical model often hurts more than it helps .” (Gordon, Alan and Ziv, Alan. The Way Out. New York, Avery, 2021). “But there’s a downside to these medical diagnoses. They reinforce the idea that there’s something (structurally) wrong with your body, even if there isn’t.”
When there is nothing structurally wrong that can be found, that is when the pain is considered neuroplastic and MOST chronic pain is neuroplastic.
“Sometimes the pain switch in our brain’s can get stuck in the on position which causes chronic pain. We call this neuroplastic pain.” (pg. 5 Gordon, Alan and Ziv, Alan. The Way Out. New York, Avery, 2021.)
“Neuroplastic pain is a fundamentally different kind of pain. It’s pain that has gotten stuck because our brain has learned it too well. The good news is that just as your brain can learn pain, it can unlearn it.“
The important point to take away is that if a definitive diagnosis is helpful and provides ease because you know what is going on - then great, and so is the absence of a diagnosis, because this means that the pain is neuroplastic (in your brain).
Either way, there is so much you can do to progress well.
You can change your pain.
You can re-educate your muscles and you can move and feel better in your body. That is if you take control and apply the appropriate tools and techniques.
We hope you will stick with us, and stay tuned for our upcoming launch of a new life changing program!
For freedom of movement,
Carrie & Nicole