So, you've got back pain...
Acute or chronic back pain - we have options to help out. Learn what causes back pain and what your options are
Back pain...the hidden epidemic. 80% of Canadians will experience it at least 1 time in their life
Low back pain has been on the of drivers for our opioid prescriptions. The increased awareness of the risks, limited ability to work well, and the potential for misuse or addiction has the research saying that medication should not be the main source of treatment.
There are better options that are safe and can still offer you results - self-management, manual therapy, movement and exercise, psychological therapies, and food changes.
The results from pharmaceuticals and surgery have been less than impressive. This is why I look at it "holistically" and from many view points.
Back pain is more than just "tight muscles", "poor posture", or being overweight
If you're struggling with what to do or not sure where to turn to, you've made the first step along your path to feeling better.
I'm here to guide you on your path to taking "back" your life
" Sync Therapy is amazing! I went for my initial assessment on Friday and was blown away by Daryl's compassion and the depth of his knowledge. He genuinely cares about making his clients feel better and goes above and beyond. I am already feeling the benefits and look forward to continuing to work with him. Thank you Daryl!! "
Let's look at a few things that can contribute - This isn't an exhaustive though, there's 101+ that contribute to back pain. Every person is different.
This can be from "poor" posture, "poor" core control, or the "tight" muscles. While you've probably heard "poor posture is the cause of your back pain", we don't fully believe this. Yes, posture may play a role in your pain, it's probably less than you think. You can read this article on pain and posture - [link]
Gut and poor digestion
Everything is connected and we're still learning "how" but we know that it plays a role - sometimes small, sometimes big. Constipation, IBS, and bloating have been found to be contributors to back pain.
When you are experiencing stress in one of your digestive organs, that organ will send a message back to the spinal cord via the same nerve that goes to a corresponding muscle. As a result, the corresponding muscle will become tense, contracted and painful. A massage or chiropractor adjustment may be why you feel good after a few days but your pain eventually comes back. Without working on that organ, that pain will eventually come back.
Anxiety, depression, stress sensitivity, and sleep problems affect people of all incomes equally, increasing their risk of developing back pain. This doesn't mean your pain is "in your head" - because it's definitely real. It means that if you only address the structures without address elsewhere, you'll never find the relief that you're looking for.
Our bacteria play a large role in our overall health - cardiovascular, mental health, and even pain. A study in 2019, found for the first time that gut bacteria is associated with chronic pain. There's also research showing that back pain symptoms may be reduced by antibiotics. This isn't something we suggest but the evidence is starting to mount for bacteria.
Other health conditions
Atherosclerosis and high cholesterol have been associated with low back pain, commonly degenerative disc disease, lumbar pain, and sciatica. Arthritis can also be a contributor to back pain
Most inflammatory back pain is can be caused by certain autoimmune conditions. An autoimmune condition can occur when the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks healthy body tissue. Most known are ankylosing spondylitis or psoriatic arthritis. Even Thyroid conditions are associated with back pain
Here's the top reasons why people with back pain come to our clinic in Victoria
Degenerative disc disease and Sciatica
This can be pretty intimidating when you hear it, let alone the pain that actually comes with it. Let's do a quick anatomy lesson - you have the bones (duh) and in between the bones are your "discs". You can think of these discs as jelly donuts, slightly hard on the outside and soft on inside. You then have the nerves and blood vessels that typically go through tiny holes along the bones. Your discs are "avascular", they don't receive a lot of blood - this is why they can take a while to heal. Sciatica, pain that refers to the back, butt, hip, and down the leg. This often makes sitting, among many other things, very uncomfortable. Exercising and hands treatment help for your discs and sciatic pain, either with Athletic Therapy or Massage Therapy, is extremely beneficial. Atherosclerosis can cause Sciatica too. The arteries around the spine highly vascular but they small, causing the plaque to limit blood flow. This can limit nutrient transport and the removal of waste products, like lactate, and irritate the Sciatic nerve. So it doesn't matter how many exercises you do or try, if you don't fix that... it'll keep popping up. This is why we suggest working with our Health Coach, if you have chronic back pain or consistent back problems.
Muscle strains and ligament strains
These are pretty common and are typically occurs after a fall or quick twist, or a blow to the body that forces a joint out of its normal position. These conditions stretch one or more ligaments beyond their normal range of movement, causing injury. It can also show up the next morning, making getting out of bed pretty hard with a painful back. This is rarely cause for serious concern, even though it can hurt like the dickens and leave you walking like the hunch-back. When you cause an injury, whether it's acute or chronic, there will be inflammation. Inflammation isn't the devil it's made out to be, it's actually beneficial for life (we'd die without it). This type of pain can settle itself down in a few days but it's a good practice to confirm what you do to limit the pain now and for next time.
Chronic back pain
Chronic back pain is complex, it's more than your muscles and it's definitely not "just in your head". The pain you experience is real, whether we can give you an answer or not or no matter what your doctor says. This type of back pain requires a multi-modal approach and we find working with our health coach offers you the best results to reduce your pain and feeling good again. A general rule of thumb is if you don't see results within 3-4 sessions that type of treatment isn't going to work for you or if you have to keep going back for relief. It's a great business model for the business, not for you though. Chronic back pain can benefit from visceral manipulation, one of our massage therapy techniques
Are you tired of back pain?
Book online today for our skilled therapist to help you. There's massage therapy, athletic therapy, and have a holistic nutrition to help.
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*In no particular order*
There are simple ways to keep moving - taking the stairs at work, parking farther away, yoga, tai chi, and even just briskly walking around the block for 20 minutes daily
Based on science, exercise always comes "back" with positive results. The benefit? You don't need to know what you're doing at the gym. Exercise that gets a little bit of a sweat and increase in heart rate will help with pain and can strengthen your muscles. You can also have a "back-safe" exercise programmed designed specifically for you with our lead Athletic Therapist, Daryl
Visceral manipulation is the practice of an experienced therapist using their hands to move and release restrictions in your abdomen and pelvis to encourage the normal movement and function of your internal organs. Most people are familiar with the idea of joint and muscle restrictions causing tightness, pain and limited movement in their bodies, but don’t consider the role of their organs. Not all Massage Therapists are capable of doing this but we do offer this with our Massage Therapy services. This can be a huge benefit and the missing piece for some people.
Diet is by far the best way to reduce inflammation, feed your beneficial gut bugs to reduce pain, and start feeling good again. If you have chronic pain or chronic low back pain, we highly suggest working with our Health Coach and Owner, Daryl. Chronic pain is a complex condition that requires more than massage or exercise to see lasting results.
More on this below...
While we don't like supplements often, there are ones that might be help out. Just remember, these are to add to your diet - not replace something. We will discuss some that may be of benefit to you
More on this below...
Sleep affects your pain. You may have noticed that a poor nights sleep not only makes you tired but your pain tends to be worse. Research shows that the number of hours of sleep is one of the most important predictors of pain. The confusing part, you can sleep 8 hours and still not get into the proper sleep cycles. It's not about the amount of hours you sleep but the quality.
Bottom line: If your sleep isn't great, good chances that your pain is higher
A study published today in the journal Emotion, which is based on 20 years of data found that shutting down emotionally or "stonewalling" during conflict raises the risk of musculoskeletal ailments such as a bad back or stiff muscles. There findings reveal a new level of precision in how emotions are linked to health, and how our behaviours over time can predict the development of negative health outcomes. This can be a trigger or sensitive area and we tread lightly but it still should be considered. We put the "emotional system" quite high on our list of things to focus on for optimal health, pain included. More research, like this, is needed. Persistent pain is complex, and emotions are only one contributing factor
" Atherosclerotic plaque clogging the arteries feeding our spine may lead to low back pain, disc degeneration, and sciatic nerve irritation "
Not sure what to do for your health anymore?
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Are you ready to become pain-free?
Our team can help you reduce pain, create a plan for a stronger back, and develop a plan to "eat" your pain away
One of the first things you can do to overcome your back pain discomfort is to pay attention to your diet
We live in a fast paced environment today, with little time to spare. Couple this with added stress and a sedentary lifestyle, our diet is put on the back burner. Our diet and lifestyle not only contributes to those extra pounds that gained every year. It also plays a role in the development of disease - anxiety, depression, high cholesterol, bloating, brain fog, inflammation, and even back pain. All of the listed symptoms above can be related to your back pain, everything is connected
Dr. Fred Tabung, a visiting researcher with the Department of Nutrition at Harvard's T.H. Chan School of Public Health says a lot of chronic pain is the result of chronic inflammation, and the evidence is quite strong that your diet can contribute to increased systemic inflammation
What's the best way to reduce systemic inflammation? Diet
Diet is your best way to help with pain, inflammation, and even relaxing your muscles
But aren't people just lifting more heavy stuff to cause back pain? No.
Mechanical factors, such as lifting or carrying things, probably do not play a large role in back pain. Atherosclerosis can obstruct the arteries that feed the spine, and this diminished blood flow can result in various back problems.
It's been shown that people with long-term lower back pain have constricted blood flow, those with high cholesterol appear to suffer more severe symptoms. Those with the narrowed arteries appear to be about 8.5x more likely to have suffered from chronic back pain
We know that disc degeneration has multiple factors - with genetic, occupational, and some mechanical influences, changing nutrition has been proposed as the final common pathway. Which this makes sense. We know that the discs in our lower back are the largest "avascular" tissue in the body - meaning our discs don't have blood vessels (why it's slow to heal as well). The nutrition for the discs kind of diffuses in from the outside, making it incredibly vulnerable to deprivation
Structures with a vulnerable nutrient supply, such as the intervertebral discs, may suffer and gradually degenerate, as well as herniate. Besides having a link between cholesterol levels and disc degeneration, there is also a link between cholesterol levels and disc herniation
A compromised blood flow along the spine may also damage the nerve roots, causing sciatica. The nerve roots that are most associated with sciatic pain, are supplied by some of the arteries most vulnerable to atherosclerotic plaque formations. The blockage of these arteries compromise the nutrient supply to the nerve itself. The lack of oxygen to the nerve may play a role in the sciatic pain. The reduced blow flow would limit the removal of waste products, like lactic acid, which can irritate the nerve endings - causing pain and deterioration.
This is why we highly suggest working with our nutritionist in our Health coaching program if you've had recurrent back pain or chronic pain. Even though you're feeling the tension into the muscles, your pain is more than that! Diet is the missing link to get you feeling well again
One problem is that you're not going to find a study about the "perfect diet for back pain" or pain in general. You might find some things that show it may help or reduce pain but everyone is biologically different, hence our personalized approach to nutrition. There's 101+ different reasons for back pain and you can't generalize it for all back pain.
Science and nutrition is a relationship that won't ever really work. It's not practical nor ethical to use the "gold standard" to test whether a diet is effective or not. It relies on observational studies, meaning they typically have questionnaires for you to answer about your food and lifestyle. The problem is that people have a hard time remember what they ate that day, let alone 2 weeks ago. If you want to learn our skepticism on this, you can look at this video here [link]
Be extremely cautious where you get your information from, the news is NOT a good source. They may reference a study in their article but it's usually "slightly" exaggerated for "click bait".
Daryl with Sync Therapy has been my rock for the last 3 years. Rather it be a 911 call or help with nutrition and home exercise he's right there to help you get where you need to go!
Cregg // Low back pain
I came to Sync Therapy 3 months after having shoulder surgery from a chronic sports injury. Daryl was instrumental in helping me gain back my mobility and add strength, to help me return to professional sport. Not only does he treat the area where the source of the injury is, but he is meticulous in assessing other areas of deficiencies that may be aiding in pain. He has listened to all my concerns with care and answered all of my questions with an undeniable knowledge base making me feel at ease with my progress and motivated to continue through challenging therapy. Since I have moved to Toronto, Daryl has been in constant contact just to see how I am progressing, and he has provided a tremendous amount of support through the physical and mental battles of re-injury. I would recommend Sync Therapy to anyone who has a sports injury, or those seeking treatment for everyday aches and pains as Daryl goes above and beyond to make sure his clients are healthy both mind and body
Shanice // Team Canada
There isn't one food or type of food that will get rid of your pain but theses are generally safe and effective in most cases. Remember, food as an individual approach and always check with your doctor before changing your diet or taking supplements
Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, said all healing begins in the gut. Different studies continue to prove him correct as we unravel how a healthy gut microbiome play a role in weight loss, disease prevention, and much more. Diet plays a crucial role in maintaining a healthy gut environment and dysbiosis ("good/bad" bug imbalance), ramps up inflammation, and triggers many illnesses including inflammatory bowel disease.
We know that the majority of people will have back pain. Having options to use at home can be priceless
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*A note on supplements* They should be used as a "supplement", adding to your diet and not in replace of it. You will always want to talk with your doctor before taking any supplements. The supplements may work for everyone but they may also work for no one. It all depends on your reasoning for the pain, it's doubtful a topical cream will help with your sciatica if it's from a blockage from your arteries.
Ginger works on the COX 2 enzyme, similar to Ibuprofen and aspirin (NSAIDs). The side effects from NSAIDs also blocks the COX 1 enzyme, which has benefits for protection of the stomach lining and intestinal lining. Ginger has the benefits of the COX 2 enzyme without the negative side effects of the COX 1 inhibition. This is also why you hear it may help with nausea and ease digestion.
It's most well known for it's anti-nausea properties for pregnancy and sea-sickness. Ginger also works well for reducing inflammation, which can reduce pain. It's also been shown to be as effective for migraines. Ginger is effective for helping with muscle pain, though not beneficial for acute muscle.
Unlike medications, supplements and whole foods take time to accumulate in the body. 1 teaspoon for a 3-5 days or for a couple weeks and you should be able to reap the benefits. You won't find much (if any benefit) for acute pain. It will take a few days to accumulate inside your body
Ginger has many benefits and is relatively safe with limited side effects. They range from migraine relief, muscle pain, and inflammation. Overall, ginger extracts, like the powdered ginger spice you’d get at any grocery store, were found to be “clinically effective [pain-reducing] agents [with] a better safety profile than [the] drugs. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs - ibuprofen/advil/aspirin) work by suppressing an enzyme in the body called cyclooxygenase 2 (COX-2), which triggers inflammation. The problem is that the drugs also suppress cyclooxygenase 1 (COX-1), which does good things, like protect the lining of your stomach and intestines. So: “Since inhibition of COX-1 is associated with gastrointestinal irritation,” if only we could selectively inhibit the inflammatory one, that would offer the best of both worlds. And, that’s what ginger seems to do. Don't expect it to work like a typical NSAID though, it's going to take a few days. You can get the benefits from a teaspoon for 3-4 days in a row or for a couple weeks in a pumpkin smoothie
Omega-3 fatty acids, like those found in krill oil, have been shown to have important anti-inflammatory functions in the body. We like krill over a fish oil because it contains more anti-oxidants, (probably) easier to digest, and you need less of it.
We also love it for the pink-orange pigment called "astaxanthin", the potent anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant
For nerve inflammation or nerve related problems (muscle tension/pain can be caused by nerve inflammation ps -ie your butt), we love fat soluble anti-oxidants or nerve inflammation.
Best to follow the recommendations on the bottle and consult your doctor or a health care practitioner. You CAN take too much of a fat-soluble vitamin supplement, be careful
Fish oil is the term used to refer to two kinds of omega-3 fatty acids, EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid)) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). These are usually found in fish, animal products, and phytoplankton. EPA and DHA are involved in many biological processes inside the body such as the inflammatory response, brain functions, and different metabolic signalling pathways. They technically can be made in the body from ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), though it's in very small amounts for the majority of people.
Often people lack a sufficient amount of omega-3 fats, which can cause problems in the bodies omega-3 to omega-6 ratio. Omega-3 fats provide many health benefits, we suggest whole foods over supplements but sometimes it's a needed boost
A couple of our favourite creams include Comfrey and a Magnesium lotion. Comfrey, in regards to pain at rest, observed a 98% reduction in lower back and a 96.9% reduction in upper back pain. We like a magnesium lotion muscles and stress. It can be used on the lower back, top of the shoulders, and tummy to help sleep.
Whether the creams work on the placebo effect or not, they may be able to help with your pain. It highly depends whether you think it'll work - the mind is incredibly powerful. Typically the benefits will be a slight reduction in pain. The are many that may work from medical grade (Voltaren) to more of a herbal one such as comfrey.
Best to follow the recommendations on the bottle and consult your doctor or a health care practitioner.
The jury is still out whether creams have a beneficial effect, from a scientific side. We still find these beneficial, however. Some creams work and some of them don't. If you think a cream is going to be beneficial, there's a good chance it will. Same goes if you don't think it'll work. Topical creams and ointments may provide a beneficial effect on helping you reduce your pain. Not all brands are created equal, It's best if they have their own study saying that their product works. Be sure to confirm if they have studies to confirm it's on their product and NOT just studies showing that the ingredients inside may be beneficial. If we're going to use a cream, we want it specifically made for us from an herbalist. Our friends at "Apotheka" are perfect for this, if you're in Victoria.
While you can get a relaxing massage, RMT's are skilled at providing a therapeutic effect for your pain. Finding a massage therapist that you trust and enjoy is critical for you. We suggest that you ask someone for a referral, look at reviews/testimonials, or call and specifically ask to talk with the massage therapist. You have to be comfortable knowing that the RMT knows what they're doing and has your best interest in mind
It's incredibly important to talk to your RMT during the massage so that your pain is not made worse. The "no pain, no gain" mantra doesn't work for this. Sometimes less is more when it comes to massage, especially for chronic pain. Massage is great and we do highly suggest it but if it only provides you a few days of relief, you may want to look at other avenues to stop the pain - though it's nice to get some relief while you figure that out. We know that Massage therapy is clinically effective to help with back pain, it can help out with "acute" and "chronic" pain. You're welcome to book a Massage with our RMT Daryl
Athletic Therapists are experts in the muscles, bones, and joints - all of what your back has. Athletic therapists are skilled and capable enough to use hands-on treatment to reduce pain, show you the appropriate exercises to "strengthen" your back, and give you the right information to reduce or prevent back pain.
Athletic therapists are skilled in the world of muscle, bones, and joints. Last time I checked, your back had all three. Athletic therapy is a safe and effective way of improving your back health. AT's are able to do hands-on treatment, develop a strength plan, and educate you on back pain. While it's not as well-known as physiotherapy, it still provides valuable treatments for back pain. If you want to a plan to improve your back strength or reduce pain, you can book an Athletic Therapy session with Daryl
Diet is an incredibly part of life, you do it everyday. Research is coming consistently on the benefits of diet and overall health. We know that our gut microbiome is linked to chronic pain. The best way to change our gut microbiome is through diet. We need the important nutrients to supply our bones, muscles, joints, and nerve - this is how the body recovers.
Diet, it's the missing link to improving back pain. Well, anything really... Using a holistic approach to working with your body is best if you haven't gotten the results or answers you're wanting. The highest majority will have more than "just back pain". You may have anxiety, depression, headaches, IBS, or indigestion - it's all related and can be improved through diet, mostly through reducing inflammation. The gut is the epicentre when it comes to everything health, diet is the best way to improve it.
This is more than just for insurance purposes, skilled hands matter. Massage feels good when most people do it but if you want results, someone that has the specific training for this will be able to provide better short and long term results for you.
Have they gone to school? Did they take a weekend course? Do they read about this stuff in their free time? Do they have one therapy that they provide or are they similar to Daryl, the owner of Sync Therapy, where they provide more than one therapy.
This one can certainly be tricky to navigate... Yes, someone who's been practising for 20+ years has all experience to help but they may be using an outdated style that won't be as effective if there's new research out that they don't keep up on it. Go with your gut and intuition. You'd think that the skill of the practitioner is the only beneficial outcomes but it's not. There's more benefit to someone that you like, trust, and will listen to. We can set up a perfect plan for you but if you don't buy into it or do it, it's not effective
This one is huge for us - what is their referral network like? Who are the people that they refer to? Will they work with your doctor or other therapists to get you better. How well do you trust that practitioner to refer you out when needed? Massage can help with the pain and tension of different "rib issues" but chiropractor will have better results for you in the short-term for pain
Maybe but probably not. This is one thing that we rarely suggest because it can do more harm than good [link]. We don't doubt that you aren't experiencing pain that may be from a "bulging disc" or a "slipped disc" but pain from a "structural abnormality" is poorly correlated. It gets very confusing when two people have "bulging discs" but only 1 has pain - why don't both have pain? An MRI can be misleading with pain
In our opinion, surgery should be near the last option for treatment. The science doesn't really support it (depends on many factors though) but ultimately it's your decision! If that's an option for you, there are a few things you can do. Get a second opinion, talk with your doctor/surgeon about the pros/con/science/research, or try different therapies. Do you own research on the type of surgery. It's your body, your rules. We all work for you, don't forget that. Here is a link regarding "low back pain myths" [link]