A young man, 30, made an appointment as a last chance in finding relief from his back pain before surgery. As a teen he hurt his back in a fall. Physical therapy taught him some coping skills at best. As a steel worker in his 20’s, his back continued to hurt him. He later took an office job. His pain got worse. Surgery was his recommended course of action.
Due to the location of his pain, straight line across his low back and straight line across his lower thoracics, mid back, I went directly to two specific trigger point locations on his abdominals. He worked out a lot and put a significant amount of time working on his abs. He did have a 6-pack. This was another indicator that I might find the culprit in hisabdominal muscles.
“It’s my back that hurts. Why are you working on my stomach”, he questioned with disbelief.
I replied, “If I work exactly where you hurt, 75% of the time I am working in the wrong place. It may feel good or right for me to work on the location of pain but I am more than likely NOT working on the cause of the pain. Plus all of the sitting you do followed by all the ab work you do in the gym, I think these muscles are shortened and may have trigger pointsthat can refer to the back.”
It took less than 2 minutes to find the first trigger point in his rectus abdominus muscle that referred pain to his mid back. Working that trigger point referred pain straight through to his back and felt like “a rod going all the way through, just like it does when it hurts real bad”. The pain left.
Working on his lower abdominals elicited the same response for his low back, again “like a rod going straight through just like it does when it hurts”. Again, his pain was alleviated.
I also performed a pin and stretch on his deeper psoas muscle, a primary hip flexor, which mimicked even more familiar pain. Again, “that worked, I don’t hurt”.
I taught him some stretches to do in order to maintain his pain free status. I also showed him how to find these trigger points on his abs so that he could treat himself when he hurts.
He walked out without any pain.
NO REPEAT VISITS.
My wife received a call from a friend requesting that I help her with her back pain. I agreed to see her. I learned that she suffered from debilitating back pain in her mid back for the last eight months. Bending to pick something up off of the floor, twisting, and deep breathing caused pain. Secondary complaint was her neck pain. She could not rotate her head very far without pain.
She received long term treatment for her back pain to no avail. Actually, her back pain worsened after treatment.
I palpated her mid back in the location that she indicated. It was tender. But, since she had been receiving treatment for so long in that immediate area, I decided to look for the culprit elsewhere. I turned her over on her back and began looking for trigger points in herabdominal muscles and diaphragm. It was almost immediate that we located 4 different trigger points that referred pain to the exact location in her back. It was intense.
After relieving those trigger points I looked a little higher on her ribs for cardiac arrhythmia trigger points that usually mimic panic attacks. Sure enough, they were there. They cause a feeling of nervousness and trembling that is typical of such trigger points.
I worked on her for 20 minutes. She stood up, tested it by bending over to pick up her shoe. No pain. She twisted above the waist. No pain. She took a deep breath. No pain.
I questioned about repetitive activity that could put those abdominal muscles in such a shortened and twisted positioned that could be inhibiting her diaphragm from contracting enabling her to breathe properly. When I put her in the specific shortened position as these muscles indicated she immediately knew that it was her hobby of quilting that was to blame. Actually her posture while quilting was to blame.
Leaned forward, shoulders rounded and head forward all inhibited her breathing. She was forced to breathe using her chest and neck muscles more than her diaphragm. She had developed several trigger points in her abdominals and diaphragm that referred to her back. The problem was not in her back.
She is correcting her posture and breathing pattern with the homework that I gave her to do. She may need a second appointment. But, then again, she may not.
Thank you SO much. I feel so much better tonight, and I’m making a concerted effort to keep my posture correct – I have to ‘unlearn’ some bad posture habits. You gave me a lot of good advice.Blessings, Michele