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Chronic back pain

Chronic back pain afflicts many of us especially with so many desk jobs requiring hours of sitting and not moving. Getting to the root cause of back pain may not be easy and this case study shows this to be the case. But with the right knowledge and a key understanding of human structural mechanics, fixing a "unsolvable" problem can happen.

A man in his early 40s came in to see me, he hurt his back skateboarding a few years back and it's never been right, causes a lot of pain but that's not stopped him from skateboarding with his son. He had been to see many experts and on one consultation costing over £300 the consultant looked at him and said "to be honest I have no idea how to fix you". That seems sad because I could see he suffered with a lot of pain but was ploughing through. 

I took him through some of my tests and looked at his structure. His spine was twisted off to the side but he still have good muscle control. This seemed odd to me as I'd normally see some atrophy of muscles. While releasing some of his key spinal muscles, I noticed one was "missing". I had never seen this in 15 years of treating clients. I swapped across to the "good side" asked him to active the muscle and bang it fired up instantly. I went back to the dysfunctional side and there was nothing. But I could feel two other muscles doing the work. In principle I knew I needed to get that muscle working and the other muscles switching off, but I've never seen this, never read about it and was a little stumped on how to get this muscle working. By the very nature of the muscle it should always switch on, but that's bodies for you, two people with the same symptoms can have very different causes to their pain. 

I got the client off the couch and asked them to do some movements, on one movement I spotted them "cheating" when doing the action. I put them into a position where they couldn't cheat and asked them to repeat the action. This was their homework and I sent them off to practice this for a week or two. On the next session, the muscle was working again, weakly but working. This was progress. A combination of myofascial release and muscle activation got this muscle working again. I could see after a month that the clients back was starting to straighten out. 

When he popped in again he said "I'm not sure whether to burn you at the stake or marry you". Well there's a first for everything, but I don't think I'd keep to try either.

These are some of the rewarding cases. get to work on. Sometimes I am stumped by something I've not seen before, but I know what I want the body to do and working methodically can bring positive results. The next time the client came in, his wrist was in a cast, a skateboarding fracture. Not something we could deal with, but we did do some work once the case was off to free up the muscles. I'm glad the chap still does something he loves.

Peta McSharry

Peta McSharry is an experienced Sports and Remedial Massage therapist living in London who has been treating clients since 2004 and teaching bodywork since 2006. Her therapy is based on a good grounding in sports along with a structural approach to resolving issues.

Sports Massage Zone

Sports Massage Zone - Moorgate, Liverpool Street, Bank EC2
3rd Floor (Bell Court Dental Practice)
1 Throgmorton Avenue
London EC2N 2JJ

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Home / Resources / Case studies / Chronic back pain