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Chronic Backache

A Problem Not of Vertebral Discs But of Abdominal Muscles

Chronic Back Pain The S4 and D4 Ways

Majid Ali, M.D. 



Chronic back pain is first a problem of abdominal muscle and then of the muscles of the back. Supple and stretched muscles are happy muscles—live, breathing, and eager to sense their environments and respond. Uneasy muscles are oxygen starved. They brood and bruise easily. For people with chronic back pain, it is a common mistake to focus on tendons, nerves, trigger points, disc degeneration, spinal stenosis, and bone damage. The focus on muscle and inflammation is a path of learning, knowing, liberating, and independence. The focus on tendons, discs, and vertebrae is a path of diagnoses, drugs, devices, and dependence—the D4 Way is my term for it. Nature evolved our backs to serve us with suppleness, stretching, swings, and strength—the S4 Way, in my lingo—to serve us for a hundred years or so.

Evolution did not design the wholly integrated neck architecture and structures for the benefit of orthopedic surgeons, physiotherapists, chiropractors, acupuncturists, or pain specialists. I tell this to my patients with chronic backache to underscore the above points. This is my way to promote what I designate as “ muscle-inflammation thinking.” It helps us to live with Nature’s S4 Way, the way of knowing and independence. The way of diagnoses, drugs, and devices is the way of dependence.

I will give my qualifications to write about chronic backache and then offer my nondrug guidelines to address the problem. First, I offer a personal and most revealing experience.

Acute Backache at the Met

During my mid-thirties, I often suffered from chronic neck pain and backache—a professional hazard for pathologists who are not careful about their posture at the microscope. When I began my work with preventive medicine, I did not want to preach anything that I didn't practice myself. During my writing of The Ghoraa and Limbic Exercise, I experimented with many different exercises for chronic neck pain and backache. I chose some that I found effective on a regular basis. During that period I learned some stretching exercises that completely relieved my neck and back pain.

Then one day my backache returned. First it was intermittent, not severe enough to keep me from maintaining my regular schedule. Within days it grew in intensity. Then Talat, my wife, and I went to the Virgin Islands for a vacation. My backache worsened with the travel. I realized I needed to have some X-rays and a MRI scan of the back done to make sure that it was all due to muscle spasms and pulled ligaments rather than some structural damage to the disc, or worse, a growth in the spinal cord. On our return, I delayed the MRI scan for a few days. The following weekend, while rambling along at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, I was suddenly struck by a sharp pain. I froze on the spot, as even the slightest movement caused excruciating pain in my back. I felt angry at myself for having neglected the back problem and wondered how I would manage to get to the hospital for an MRI scan without calling an ambulance. Nearly in panic, I thought of relieving the acute muscle spasm in my back with Limbic Breathing.

I do not recall how long it took, but I was able to walk out of the museum and walk back to our apartment in the city. Once again as my back pain subsided I deferred the MRI scan. I wanted to test if gentle limbic exercise and auto-regulation could resolve my back problem. That episode occurred more than three years ago. I neither underwent the scans nor needed to see a physician. Occasionally, I feel some muscle spasm and pain in my lower back. Some stretching exercises and limbic breathing are all I need for relief.

Basis of My Guidelines

I begin by offering my qualifications for writing about chronic neck pain and my guidelines for nondrug remedies:

1. I have a prolapsed disc in my lumbar spine and suffered for years. Twice the pain was severe and restricted me to bed for days, forcing me to consider surgery. Fortunately I avoided surgery and have not used any pain killers for more than ten years. I do back exercises every morning and Feather Breathing as often as needed.
2. Orthopedics was a large part of my surgical training. I received certification (FRCS) in England in 1968. With passing decades I realized the limits of physiotherapy and manipulation done by professionals and the far superior long-term benefits of self-administered neck stretches and non-drug anti-inflammatory therapies.
3. I suffered migraine attacks all through my years of high school, college, medical school, and my work in surgery and pathology. For about thirty-five years, I self-administered Demerol (a highly addictive opiate drug) injections. So I have some sense of what severe pain can do.
4. My personal experiences sharpened my clinical sense while I cared for about 9,500 patients with chronic illnesses, most of whom suffered chronic pain states.

My S4 Priorities

Based on personal experiences and clinical work with a large number of patients with chronic back pain, here are my seven top priorities for addressing issues of muscle spasm and inflammation, and for relieving pain:

1. Gentle, high-frequency, low-intensity back stretches against a door or a tree (described below)
2. Topical oil rubs (http://www.majidali.com/oil_rubs.htm)
3. Anti-inflammatory spices (http://www.majidali.com/spice_medicine_and_oxygen_part_2.htm)
4. Limbic breathing (http://www.majidali.com/limbic_breathing.htm)
5. Four week trial of gluten-free and sugar-free diet
6. Reading of my poem “Sadness” (from my book entitled Drone Democracy) for spiritual equilibrium as often as needed.
7. Use of contour-hugging mattress and pillows (such as temperpedic)

Once the back pain is completely or near-completely relieved, please do not forget to do back stretches and massage.

The links provide detailed information about the clinical uses of my protocols listed above. The integrated use of all seven recommendation will give the best clinical results, however, if all of them cannot be implemented, it helps to do as many as possible.

For chronic back pain, one needs to become one’s own primary physician. If you can do all of the above for just four weeks, you will be well on your way to becoming your own primary physician. It is that simple.

Dr. Ali’s Limbic Back Exercises

1. The first thing in the morning, rub the upper, middle, and lower back gently to awaken the back muscles.
2. Do gentle rebounding exercise after the rubs. I advise my patients to use a flat-base-round-top trampoline holding on to chair or sofa for stability,
3. After using bathroom, do back stretches standing and leaning against a door or a wall. One hand should rest on the wall at a level comfortably above the shoulder level, while the second hand is kept below it. One foot should be ten to twelve inches from the wall and the second one or two feet behind the first foot.
4. Topical use of oils (castor oil, sesame oil, and mustard oil are my top priorities in that order.
5. Move the lower back to and from the wall, keeping shoulders motionless as much as possible.
6. Do the above steps gently in the beginning and slowly increasing the force of the mocements.
7. During relapses of back pain, do back stretches at home or at work with high frequency and low intensity.
8. Consider viewing my video seminar on Limbic Exercise available at www.majidali.com.

Related Tutorials

* What Is Pain?

* Chronic Pain—Diagnosis Is Not Important, Detection of Causes Is

* The Oxygen Model of Pain

* Chronic Backache

* Sciatica

* Degenerative Disc Disease 

* The Sacral Syndrome

* Swivel Chair Physiotherapy

* Swivel Chair Physiotherapy

*  Migraine Migraine - Please Say Yes to Detection and No to Diagnosis

Migraine Labels That Reveal Nothing and Hide Much

Neurochemistry and Clinical Aspects of Pain

*  A Pathologist’s Migraine

A President’s Migraine

A Politician’s Migraine

 

 

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