Look at the pictures images below – which spine would you like?
Let me guess, I think we’d all choose the one on the left!
It looks smooth, no rough bits, even spaces and just generally looks a better spine.. doesn’t it!? It looks like a good spine healthy spine.
What if I told you the scan of the person on the left was having recurrent back pain, sciatica and one to two times per year they are getting severe spasms which cause them to be laid up in bed for 2 days. But how can that be? The spine looks nice and healthy? Yes, it does, and it IS a healthy spine but there is a lot more to back pain than just looking at the scan. Back pain often arises from things that AREN’T SEEN ON MRI or X-RAY and are more related to what we do with our backs day in day out and also the state of our nervous system (****link to other blog on this***).
So what about the spine on the RIGHT – THEY MUST BE IN AGONY!?
Well no, that’s a normal looking spine for someone in their 70’s or 80’s even without back pain!
I’ve seen this again and again, clients with spines JUST like the one on the RIGHT and if not worse ‘looking’ than the one on the right but the person can be completely pain free.
But wait, that spine looks arthritic! Gnarly boney bits, degenerated discs… it doesn’t look good… it must be painful.
NO NO NO AND A MILLION TIMES MORE NO. What you see on a scan doesn’t equate to your pain (remember the healthy spine on the left yet the person is having severe back spasms and sciatica).
The worst Spine I’ve Ever Seen…
A wonderful 81 year old lady came to see me about a bit of hip and groin pain she was having. This amazing woman actually led an exercise class for Over 70’s (despite being the oldest in the class!). She was having a bit of hip and groin pain and the GP had referred her for an x-ray of the hip and pelvis. So when she attended for physio for her hip I was able to look up her x-rays (which always show the lumbar spine as well).
I WAS SHOCKED to see the WORST spinal x-ray I’ve ever seen. Scoliosis, SEVERE degenerative arthritis, disc degeneration at EVERY joint in her back right down to her hip.
How could this be? It didn’t fit the picture of the woman who bounced in with great hip flexibility, lovely spinal movement and ABSOLUTELY NO BACK PAIN.
She was completely unaware of how her x-ray looked. To her, her spine was healthy, strong and mobile and there weren’t any problems, the rusty bits seen on the x-ray weren’t a problem.
The WORST thing I could have done was show her this or show her what I had seen.
This woman had an amazing perception of her body as a strong and flexible structure (and it was exactly that – healthy, strong and mobile but with the normal signs of ageing on x-ray!) so if had shown her this it could have a detrimental effect on how she perceived her body.
Her “rusty” bits are like your rusty bits. They don’t have to impact on your life but we do have to look after are spines by keeping them mobile and maintaining a bit of strength to cope with what we want to throw at them.
This wonderful 81 year old woman had made movement part of her lifestyle. This lady is the ULTIMATE example of what is possible when you learn and apply simple strategies to look after your body.
Don’t just grow older and expect that every aches or pain is something you have to endure.
Prioritise actively helping your body maintain strength and flexibility and you will see improvements in how you feel and move.
If you would like to start a lifestyle change and ease your back pain why not get the advice from the experts in life changing back rehabilitation – it’s simple it’s invigorating and it’s a choice you have to make.
Contact Causeway Physio & Pilates on 02870359592 to book or if your not sure if physio can help why not request a call back from one of our physios click here to request…