Are you familiar with such a question?
Do you remember hearing or saying MY [fill in the blank] IS KILLING ME?
There could be a number of body parts that we could use to fill in the blank.
A few thoughts come to mind when hearing such a statement.
It might be: I hope it’s not too painful; can I help? Can you cope?
When asked to grade on a scale of 1 (low) to 10 (high) my [x]
is killing me, answers very often vary between 5 and 10. A rating is very personal and my 5, 6, 7,
8, 9 or 10 might not be your 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 or 10. The important thing is that whatever
‛is killing me’ can be rated by an individual and that ‛pain to lot of pain’ is an ALERT.
What do figures tell us?
You are very likely to have said ‛My back is killing me!’ at some point in
your life as more than 80 per cent of the general population suffer from back pain during
their lives, the same proportion of us getting a cold. In 2019, 16.9% of people in
England were estimated to be suffering from back pain (Statistica).
The total cost of chronic back pain to the economy is estimated at over £10 billion
Beyond those figures, what matters to us is the effect back pain has on our
Vignette: Nose at carpet level
For years, at intervals, I got stuck, unable to unfold myself - literally my nose
at carpet level while getting up the stairs ‒ and in pain. It got to the point
where the low back pain episodes would recur too often.
I consulted GPs, specialists, had X‑rays and scans done. Nothing was structurally amiss.
Nowadays, people with low back pain are dissuaded from having scans and x‑rays
because a structural abnormality does not equate back pain and vice versa:
back pain does not equate structural abnormalities.
My getting stuck was all down to me! I was moving too much!
I had an introduction to the Alexander Technique (not in connection with back pain) and
understood that bending forward and bending backward at the same time meant I
was moving too much and that I was creating stiffness. My getting stuck was
all down to me.
I have been working with this idea for over 8 years now.
Do I still have back pain? Yes
Have I ever been stuck as I used to? No
Do I continue improving? Yes
Does this improvement require work on my part? Yes
What do we know and what we do not know about back pain?
Lower back pain is more than just a mechanical dysfunction and psychosocial factors
are extremely important as well.
Causes could be of a different nature: traumatic, not traumatic, postX‑traumatic, linked to a
systemic condition, linked to malignancy or be unknown.
The cause of most back pain is unknown and cannot always be tied to a specific cause.
There are gaps in our knowledge for the time being.
Most back pain does get better. It just takes a little time.
It is always recommended to seek medical advice to check things out.
Let’s stop and consider what we are doing
It pays to heed it and what our body is telling us.
It pays to stop and consider it.
It pays to find out whether or not we (AS I WAS and still am from time to time), yes WE, could be creating
or making our pain worse.
The latter, though it is painful and no denying the pain, could be a blessing in disguise:
if we are creating our pain or making it worse, then we know that if we change what
we are doing there could be less to no pain.
So, if you have a whatever ‛is killing you’,
consider that this is an alert, and that part of the solution might lay in your hands.
There are a few actions we can all take to help ourselves:
It is important to be mobile and keep moving; walking is recommended.
It is important to continue with your activities.
Relaxation is encouraged, especially in the acute phase (why not try massage,
reflexology, meditation, etc. or a combination).
Learn to move differently following a process to avoid finding yourself in the same
situation a few weeks or months down the line.
You might want to look at some research:
Reflexology and back pain
The Alexander Technique and back ache
(scroll down you will find the heading #1: It helps with back pain)
NICE and back pain