We hear it every day in our clinic – “oh you know – I’m just getting older”. It’s easy to blame – the passing of time – especially when it comes to pain. Decades ago, and even today, a roadmap of pain would look something like this:
You start to experience some back pain – maybe mild or maybe severe. You go to a healthcare practitioner to find out what’s going on and they send you to get some X-rays. A couple days later you go back to find out the results and they give you the diagnosis “Degenerative Disc Disease.” “It’s something that happens in our bones as we get older”, you’re told – “and there’s not much we can do about it”.
So now you’re left with a back that aches and a diagnosis that explains it, but nothing much in terms of solutions. But, what if there was another piece of this puzzle? Let me tell you about the new way we look at scans like X-rays these days – they’re awfully misleading, and they didn’t actually find the source of your pain.
In a recent study, they found that 96% of people – almost everyone – who was 80 years old had degenerative disc disease. Now, if we compare that to another recent study, we find out that only about 1 in 4 people who are in their 80s have back pain. So, what gives? The bottom line is that certain things that we can see on X-rays and MRI reports don’t actually tell us what is causing pain – especially when it comes to degenerative disc disease! This diagnosis shouldn’t even be called “degeneration” because it relates to normal changes in our bones that happen as we get older. In fact, even more than a third of 20-year-olds have these same changes.
When you talk to your family physician, your chiropractor, or any other healthcare practitioner, you should know that you’re a complex creature, and a snapshot on an X-ray can’t give us the whole picture, and there will always be strategies and solutions for back pain.
Theo Ramsdale – Doctor of Chiropractic