Specializing in Pain Management and Sports Medicine

Boot Camp for Back Pain

Boot Camp for Chronic Back Pain

The chronic pain syndrome is a complex medical problem that needs to be treated with a multi pronged approach. For example, individuals with chronic sciatica, chronic low back pain or chronic neck and shoulder pain not only have physical impairments due to the deconditioning process but they also typically have a significant fear of movement and fear of re-injury that affects their ability to overcome their chronic pain syndrome. In addition the tissues in their back have become hypersensitive to movement so that even normal motion results in pain. When pain is experienced it is thought of as further damage or harm is occurring. For most, this is actually not the cause.

If given the chance to exercise and work through the pain in a supervised environment many chronic back pain sufferers greatly improve their physical conditioning and function even if their pain levels do not change.  The interesting thing that happens is that as impairments and disabilities are lessened and function improves, pain also drops often times a substantial amount.

The problem has been that over the past almost two decades the focus on those with chronic pain has been to lessen the pain with use of long term narcotics. That from of treatment has turned out to be huge bust and has lead to a substantial increase in addiction rates, emergency room visits for drug overdose and deaths. In 2013 there were more deaths from prescription drug overdose than from car accidents in the United States. Furthermore, those patients on chronic narcotic treatment almost always have lower function and greater disability than those that are not. So what is the answer then? It is exercise done a gradually increasing format even if pain levels increase. For most chronic pain sufferers the pain that they experience is safe and the message of movement even with increase pain is an important central concept to a functionally restorative or boot camp for back pain type of treatment approach.

This boot camp type of approach- also known as functional restoration has been proven to work in countless medical studies for those suffering with chronic pain syndromes.  During my career which has spanned over 25 years I have part of three of these boot camp type rehabilitation programs. The first was in Boston and was called the New England Spine Care Program, the second was in Dallas known as PRIDE. PRIDE was the original functionally restorative rehabilitation program for chronic pain sufferers in the United States. The last program that I worked at and ran was the RESTORE facility in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Watch this short video of the New England Spine Care program to learn more.

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