The Lowdown

on Lower Back Pain

If you have back pain that needs continual adjustments or pain-killer medication you are not treating the cause of your pain, you are just treating the compensations or the symptoms.


Pain stays for a reason, after treatment you may have pain holiday for a few hours or days, but your pain returns, means that you haven’t found the reasons for your pain. At our clinic in Christchurch we have a different approach that can completely stop your pain or substantially reduce your daily pain levels

Reasons for Your Back Pain


  • Posture – the way you stand, sit or move pulls muscles and joints out of alignment.

  • Stress

  • Incorrect exercises, movement or lifting

  • Emotional experiences or pain

  • Skeletal muscle imbalance


Medical viewpoint is different to ours - research 


Doctors or chiropractors may have told you that you have disc degeneration or a bulging disc and you have to take medication or to have regular adjustments. However this may not be causing you pain, as we all have some level of disc degeneration.


Mid age woman with backache.jpg

The table below show the meta-analysis research results done in 2015, a total of 3300 people who had no symptoms of pain. That means they do not have any back pain, but the research showed they have degeneration and bulging discs, even younger people.

spine degeneration research limits not r

Systematic Literature Review of Imaging Features of Spinal Degeneration in Asymptomatic Populations: W. Brinjikji et al AJNR Am J Neuroradiol. 2015 Apr; 36(4): 811-816. Limits of table has too few research studies for reliability, hence ruled off.

Research Conclusions

Imaging evidence of degenerative spine disease is common in asymptomatic individuals and increases with age. These findings suggest that many imaging-based degenerative features may be part of normal aging and unassociated with low back pain, especially when incidentally seen. These imaging findings must be interpreted in the context of the patient’s clinical condition.

So let me clarify what this research shows.


Consider the circled section, healthy people in their 30’s, the table shows an average of 52% of them will have some disc degeneration. Degeneration on it’s own may not cause back pain.


As we actually live our body experiences changes, but just because we have an X-ray of MRI that shows our back isn’t in perfect condition it may NOT be the reason for ongoing pain. 


Case Study of considerable intervention 

As Sally, one of my clients, found out after 8 years of unremitting pain, not helped by any corrections or pills, finally had a back operation only to find after 3 months her pain was worse. Now her diagnosis of FBSS – yes it’s true, it’s medically defined – she experienced Failed Back Surgery Syndrome! For her story click here

Information on lower back pain

Low back pain is the leading worldwide cause of years lost to disability and its burden is growing alongside the increasing and ageing population. (Prof R. Buchbinder, PhD Lancet, June 09 2018)


So I guess if you are reading this page the above includes you. Is it just a few days of pain, or years of searching for answers to regaining your full lifestyle?


In New Zealand and Australia we may have access to accurate information sources, health-care approaches that provide appropriate support for self-management of uncomplicated low back pain, and to specialised effective interventions, such as multidisciplinary rehabilitation, for complex persistent low back pain.


In Christchurch we have the Pain Management Centre at Burwood, often the last resort to get answers.

Is Pain being treated correctly?

The latest ideas are that pain management shouldn’t be more medications, as this is rarely the total answer, often drugs need to be increased as they lose their effectiveness, increasing the number of side effects. 


Increased use of ineffective potentially unsafe treatments has wasted limited health-care resources and harmed patients. The epidemic of addiction and rising mortality resulting from increased opioid prescribing in the USA over the past 20 years is a dramatic example of the disastrous effects of damaging medical intervention.


Opioids are also used in Australia and New Zealand, understandably so as patients just need the pain to go away.

Some terminology you may have seen or read on your reports

Iatrogenic Causes of Pain - Disabling low back pain is partly iatrogenic – medical term for the pain is caused by medical intervention, drugs or comments of medical professionals.

Idopathic Causes of Pain - Doctors or specialists have no idea why you are in constant pain, but often find reasons that may not be the full story of why your pain persists.