I have had back pain, on and off, for 20 years. I guess I will have to learn to live with it. After three back surgeries and two months of rehabilitation, my back still hurts! I have degenerating disks. I am in constant pain and take painkillers or Advil daily!

Does any of this sound familiar? For the seven out of 10 people in the U.S. who suffer from serious back pain, these words are real.

Everyone is getting involved in back problems–insurance companies, lawyers, workers comp, surgeons, physical therapist and, of course, the companies that benefit from the more than $100 billion spent annually for back disease. Someone is getting rich off our backs!

Pain caused by back dysfunction is real, serious and a cry for help. The effects of this pain disrupt lives. It is unpredictable, uncomfortable, a constant reminder that our structure is failing, and can stop a good party without a moment’s notice.

We are a society that keeps our head in the sand (which definitely will promote back pain) when it comes to maintaining healthy backs. The key is the natural approach, prevention and the use of hands-on therapies–bodywork, yoga, exercise, correct posture, body awareness, energy balancing and early detection of movements that cause back problems. Identifying the problem early will save the day for those unwanted backaches.

Practicing correct breathing, taking courses in Alexander techniques and getting that regular polarity, massage or rolfing treatment along with chiropractic adjustments will keep your back in friendly spirits. Some consider getting regular bodywork frivolous when, in truth, it costs less than medical intervention, saves in lost work and productivity and it feels great while keeping your back healthy.

Benefits of hands-on work for back dysfunction:

  • Identifying back problems before they become dysfunctional
  • Correcting soft tissue tension and stress before disruptive patterns emerge
  • Keeping the moving parts moving!
  • Minimizing pain and inflammation
  • Keeping back muscles lengthened and stable to avoid postural distress
  • Balancing the nervous system

Choosing the right hands-on practitioner is important:

  • Get referrals from satisfied clients who use hands-on practitioners
  • Do a phone interview. Ask the following questions: What is your experience with back problems, what background and training do you have, do you have references available, what professional certificates do you hold and what organization credentials your modality? (Call that agency and get information about that practitioner)
  • Check to see if the therapy is done in a professional setting with adequate facilities

Most back dysfunction is caused by soft tissue impingements. Soft tissue, neuromuscular therapy, various massage techniques, myofascial release, structural integration, trigger point work and/or rolfing all have similarities that work for back dysfunction. These techniques involve:

  • Trigger point work, specific to releasing congestion that retains metabolic waste. This will control muscle spasms
  • Improvement of nerve impingements caused by pressure on nerves due to muscle tension
  • Balancing muscular stress by increasing blood and oxygen flow through soft tissue manipulation

Polarity therapy:

Through specific contact and reflex points, imbalances are corrected that are held energetically in the myofascial system. Polarity balances the nervous system and relaxes dysfunctional patterns that create structural impingements. Back pain often results from energetic blocks that prevent full circuit movement

Cranial sacral therapy:

Balances the central nervous system, relieving tension through the spinal cord

Chiropractic care:

Since we stand upright, our entire body weight falls on each vertebrae of the lower back. Chiropractic correction allows for improvement in spinal alignment as well as correct balance of the spine (our spine is made up of 24 moving parts). Can adjust the sacrum to allow for pain relief from sciatica.


  • Strengthens supporting muscles in back, upper legs and abdomen
  • Stretching extends tight muscles that create imbalances
  • Pelvic tilts tighten stomach and buttock muscles
  • Half sit-ups reduce lower back stress and strengthens abdominal musclesTiffany Field at the Touch Research Institute concludes in many of her studies that hands-on therapy provides pain relief and progressive muscle relaxation. Her data suggests that areas such as massage, neuro-muscular therapy or stress reduction therapies are effective primary treatment for chronic lower back pain.

The natural approaches are back saving and economical in the overall treatment of back disease. The hands-on therapies are gaining national recognition for mounting the slogan Just Say No to Back Pain. Consistent bodywork is a much more pleasant way of living your life in a pain-free back environment.

May the longtime sun shine upon you.