You Won’t Believe What This Doctor Prescribed To His Patient With Low Back Pain
Originally posted as a shared article from The Washington Post on January 23, 2014
My patient came to me with an alarmingly regular case of low back pain. Stiffness, soreness, tight muscles in the expected areas. His posture spoke to me of years of sitting at a desk, pecking away at keys on his keyboard, straining his eyes at his screen, and reaching awkwardly for his mouse. After a thorough examination of examining his vitals, neurological condition, and orthopedic testing, I checked his spine. Finding nothing alarming, I advised for a course of treatment with one additional, special, yet important, request:
“get off your butt.”
Oh no he did’n’t!
Okay, the truth is the patient was someone known to me, and we had a good laugh about it. The patient, being a young man in his late 20s, readily agreed that his lack of exercise and constant sitting was more than likely the cause of his low back pain and stiffness. Our conversation went well, and we discussed the treatment plan without any issue.
Our ancestors, I’m talking all the way back to hunting and gathering, were always on the move. Their diet was rich in high calorie foods (animal fats, nuts, high sugar fruits) and it sustained them through times where foraging was more difficult. Their daily activities were varied, and their physique tended towards a leaner, muscular form. Through all of these activities, calories were being burned at a much higher rate than today.
I agree, it was a different time, with different pressures. However one constant remains — we tend towards a much more naturally lean and healthy form when we include a good diet and exercise to our daily routines. Getting up and moving around has incredibly profound effects in improving symptoms in all kinds of issues, ranging from chronic pain to autoimmune diseases to acute postural stiffness.
We’re sitting more than ever, with our increasingly technological and automated society, and the scary thing is that we have not learned what long term repercussions are in store. In this way, “sitting is this generation’s smoking” and this is a catch phrase burning through health and wellness circles all over the world (and here’s just one example). Earlier, in the 30s, 40s, and 50s, smoking was so pervasive and normal. The risks were not well known then, until long term studies were being conducted. Sooner or later, we realized that smoking quite definitively caused lung cancer. Campaigns against smoking were launched, and while people still choose to smoke, NOW they are very well informed about its risks. To put this in perspective, most public establishments only banned smoking indoors in the 90s in North America!
Sitting is leading to more and more issues that are only now becoming apparent. Check out the following graphic originally posted in the Washington Post for a much more in depth look at what I mean. Also, please see the follow up to this entry from another regular contributor, Dr. Joe Mondoux, a young, dynamic Chiropractor in Canada. His post will touch on the effects of sitting even if you are physically active.
- Dr. P
Image shared from Washington Post