Why Does My Back Hurt?

Why does my back hurt is a question uttered by some thirty million Americans each year. People have back pain for a lot different reasons but knowing why is essential to getting relief. There is always a source or origin of pain and the body usually offers many clues but often a client telling his or her story unlocks the mystery. I fancy myself as a pain detective.

In my ten short years helping people out of pain I have come across so many different causes of back pain but I feel that they can be grouped  into three categories that tend to mix and match- physical, structural and emotional.

By structural I mean things like stenosis, scoliosis, birth issues, surgeries gone bad, and accidents such as auto crashes or falls that break bones or do other skeletal damage. On one level these are relatively easy to work with. They can be diagnosed and sometimes treated. But where I think the other two options are definitely treatable, sometimes structural issues can be so powerful that maintenance is the best one can hope for—and that maintenance is absolutely required if the body is not to degenerate further.

Physical pain refers to muscles ligaments and tendons and poor body mechanics. So much pain that that people suffer is purely due to weak, tight or imbalanced muscles that won’t let the body work as designed and as a result dysfunction ultimately leads to pain (or not as the body is a mystery and some people can get away with what others cannot).

Emotional pain is very different than either of the first two categories. Emotional pain refers to the body’s inability to handle different kinds of stress. The idea that stress and emotional trauma causes back and other body pains is ridiculous to some people that I highly respect. And I guess it requires a leap of faith to suggest that an overbearing boss(on the simplest level) can cause someone to suffer back pain but I have seen so much of what I describe as emotional pain find ease in new movement patterns and trauma release exercises.

The bottom line is if you are in pain you want to get out of it. The first step in this direction has to be identifying why the pain began. That is easy for some and not so much for others. But any effort expended in that direction will pay dividends in pain relief if you stick with it long enough.


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