Back Pain, X Rays, and Tight Muscles

A client sent me an interesting blog post about X-rays, chiropractors and back pain.

Chiropractors and doctors tend to look at back pain as a STRUCTURAL  problem, when in fact most back pain is FUNCTIONAL in nature.

If you understand functional movement you don’t need to see an Xray to know that someone has an overly arched back, slumped posture or scoliotic leaning. If you palpate someone’s back and feel muscles as tight as steel rods, you don’t need an X-ray to show you that the muscles are pulling on the bones, or that one side of the body bears more weight than the other side (which could result in hip and knee pain). You just need to understand the relationship between the brain (which controls the muscles), the muscles, and movement.

Reversing muscle pain and dysfunction is a learning process.

Most doctors (and possibly chiropractors?) no longer learn the art of palpation, which familiarizes the practitioner with the function and tonus rate of the muscles. Nor do they apply an understanding of the brain/muscle connection and how muscles become tight and stay tight/frozen. They tend to medicalize back pain. I agree with the writer that Xrays are a significant intervention that should be used only when a break or tear is suspected. When muscles become “frozen” and stop functioning properly, however, the best way to regain proper muscle function and improve proprioception is through movement re-education such as Hanna Somatic Education. The muscles, which learned to stay tight due to stress responses, need to be “woken up” at the brain level, so they can learn to relax.

So if you have tight muscles, muscle pain or dysfunction that is not part of a disease process, and wonder whether or not you need an Xray to diagnose the problem, first try moving – bending, reaching, gently twisting. Notice how it feels – how you can and cannot move. This will begin to shed light on your problem and increase your own sense of body awareness. If you can move easily in one direction, but not the other, you probably have some “amnesic,” tight muscles which, with some methodical and easy retraining, can learn to relax and function again as they are meant to. This will relieve your pain and save you money in the long run.

To learn the methods and movements that will teach you to reverse chronic muscle pain, increase awareness, control and flexibility of muscles – and save you money in the long run – click here to buy my new, easy to follow instructional DVD.

To make an appointment with Martha to discuss your particular muscle pain problem, click here for more information about private clinical sessions, online video sessions, group classes and phone consultations.

6 thoughts on “Back Pain, X Rays, and Tight Muscles

  1. And X-rays are so dangerous! I’ve definitely been told I need one, only to find out later I could have avoided it. Now I avoid them at all costs!

  2. Its like you learn my thoughts! You seem to grasp so much approximately this, such
    as you wrote the e-book in it or something. I feel that you can
    do with some percent to power the message home a bit, however other than
    that, this is wonderful blog. A fantastic read.

    I will certainly be back.

    • Thanks for your comment. Yes, movement is medicine! When we’re aware of what doesn’t move the way it should we can source a lot of information and figure out what’s really going on. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Reawakening the brain’s control of awareness and movement can teach people to reverse so many problems.

      All the best,

  3. I read your article and I have to say its somewhat incorrect. I have charcot marie tooth disease and am a patient of muscular dystrophy. I am 44 newly disabled and suffer from chronic spasms in my back. I have 32 trigger points. Your advice was to stretch and retrain your muscles to work again. That is not true for MD patients.i am 5-6 and weigh 120. I have been active and exercised religiously my entire life. The exercise did not stop or even help my muscles that continued to atrophy. Ive been told by my Mus Dys dr and three other specialist that exercise will not rebuild any muscle atrophied by my disease. Of course walking and stretching is good for everybody however stretching physical therapy walking etc causes increased soreness and intense muscle pain that increases with activity. The damage is permanent and nothing will reverse it. That is why I disagree with your information. Maybe you should add that for the average person this may help but for one who has been diagnosed with a true muscle disease seek advice from their treating physician as end results will not be the same.

    • Hi Tammie,

      You’re absolutely correct: Hanna Somatics won’t change a disease process. On my website and in my blog posts I am clear to say “most” chronic muscle pain. Somatic Educators are well trained to understand the difference between a true disease process in which there can only be a seondary gain (such as learning how not to get “stuck” in the muscular habituations necessary to deal with an on-going pathology) and a situation diagnosed as a “disease,” which is actually functional in nature.

      I’ve worked with people with CP, MS, and Charcotte Marie Tooth. What they get out of Somatic Education and improving their proprioception is a secondary gain. And sometimes you can’t help that person at all. My blog post was about most back pain, which is misdiagnosed by doctors as a structural pathology.

      As to yourself, you could possibly still learn something that might improved your ability to deal with MD. Maybe not. Somatic movement, whether it be Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement exercises, Somatic Exercises or Body Mind Centering is powerful, experiential work that can create changes in the brain. “Working out” is profoundly different from gentle somatic movement. If you decide to explore, please let me know how it goes – and thanks very much for your comment.

      All the best,

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