I recently got the book Pain Free: A Revolutionary Method for Stopping Chronic Pain by Pete Egoscue (pronounced ee-GOSS-kyoo, apparently) from the library last week. If you start researching back pain, Egoscue is one of the names that keeps coming up. Many people have recommended his work highly, but I hadn't read any of his books before this.
Egoscue's basic theory, as cribbed from the beginning of his book The Egoscue Method of Health Through Motion: A Revolutionary Program That Lets You Rediscover the Body's Power to Rejuvenate It:
You are not moving enough to keep your body and overall health from deteriorating. And when you do move, because this "motion starvation" is acute, the movement violates the design of the body with every step you take.Because the primary muscles aren't strong enough to do their jobs, the secondary muscles try to compensate (while still trying to do their own jobs as well). This torques the body out of musculoskeletal alignment, which makes it even more difficult for the muscles to move the way they should, which torques the body further out of alignment, which... you get the picture.
The books include set menus of exercises ("E-cises") intended to retrain the muscles and realign the joints. Do these every day, preferably in the morning so you start your day with movement and proper alignment, and you WILL (he says) see improvement.
I've been on prescription-strength painkillers for the past month and a half due to a sciatica attack. Two naproxen sodium intended to reduce the inflammation of the sciatic nerve, and three to six Tylenol with codeine, depending on the intensity of the pain. I don't like being on the codeine and have been trying, without much success, to taper down and get off it entirely. For at least two weeks, I've been trying to get through the day on two Tylenol, but by the afternoon I've needed to take a third, and by the evening I've often needed to take the fourth one of the day.
Sunday morning I started doing the E-cise menu for low back pain, once a day in the morning.
Yesterday afternoon, I looked at the clock and realized that it was 4:30 pm, I hadn't taken a single Tylenol with codeine that day, and I didn't need to take one then. And it wasn't a matter of toughing through it, it was a matter of not being in enough pain to need to take one.
At this point, I haven't taken a Tylenol since Tuesday afternoon, and I don't feel like I need to take one now.
There's an Egoscue clinic in San Francisco. I have an appointment on Tuesday. If four days of doing the generic low-back E-cise menu from the book can reduce my pain this dramatically, I'm eager to see what a personalized program can do.