The Defy Aging Newsletter

Anti-aging psychology, holistic health, and wellness

a biweekly e-mail newsletter for helping you think, feel, look, and be more youthful and live with purpose.

August 28, 2008 Number 194

This issue:

Overcoming Back Pain

Action to take

If you experience back pain, consider how evidence-based medicine indicates that in 90% of the cases you will get better results with exercise than pain killers, muscle relaxers, steroids, surgery, or bed rest.


Second only to the common cold back, pain is the most common reason for sick leave at work. Hardly anyone over fifty hasn’t had at least one serious episode of back pain or neck pain. Chances are you have experienced some serious back or neck pain. We go to our doctors and want instant results. Translation—we want pills. We want a quick fix. But pain killers, muscle relaxers, and steroids are likely to aggravate the problem and give unwanted bonuses of depression, slower healing, and drug dependency.

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Spine doctor Dr. Mark Brown on Ageless Lifestyles Radio. Dr. Brown said if you throw away the pills and walk it off, 90% of the time, you will recover from the problem and the pain—in fact you are more likely to recover and recover more quickly without the pills. Dr. Brown is an eminent orthopedic spine surgeon, is on the editorial board of four medical journals, and is a professor at the University of Miami. He is an MD and Ph.D., teaches, does research, and has a clinical practice. His new book, Conquer Back and Neck Pain: Walk It Off helps diagnose what kind of pain you have and determine what to do—and not do about it.

There are several things I like about his advice:

  1. It isn't just his opinion and clinical experience, it is based on evidence-based medicine, i.e., a careful review of the best designed research studies such as studies with sizable samples and double blind placebo trials.
  2. The advice is contrary to Dr. Brown's best interests as it would be far more lucrative for him just prescribe pills or do surgery than to spend one-to-one time with patients discussing lifestyle issues.
  3. It avoids the harmful effects and risks from pills or surgery.
  4. It is the most inexpensive option.

Dr. Brown certainly advocates starting with a good diagnosis as there are exceptions to his rule of thumb. Indeed, while not a substitute for a physician, his book has very detailed tests to help you determine what kind of back pain you have. In most cases, the solution is to exercise up to a tolerable level of pain.

Dr. Brown also makes a strong case for lifestyle changes being enormously helpful. The discs in your spine, he explains, do not have blood vessels. Getting nutrients to the discs and toxins out depends on muscle movement to be a pump. Poor nutrition, smoking, obesity, and inactivity all impair the healing process.


Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever.

~Lance Armstrong


Three guys and were fishing when Jesus walked across the water and joined them in the boat. Astonished one man humbly said, "Jesus, I've suffered from back pain ever since I took shrapnel in the Vietnam war. Could you help me?" "Of course, my son", Jesus said. He touched his back and vanquished the pain. The second man said, "Jesus I've had neck pain ever since I fell from a scaffold. Can you help me?" Jesus touched his neck and he was healed. When Jesus turned to heal the third man, the man backed away and cried, "Don't touch me! I'm on long term disability."

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"Dr. Michael Brickey, The Anti-Aging Psychologist, teaches people to think, feel, look and be more youthful. He is an inspiring keynote speaker and Oprah-featured author. His works include:  Defy Aging, 52 baby steps to Grow Young, and Reverse Aging (anti-aging hypnosis CDs). Visit for a free report on anti-aging secrets and a free newsletter with practical anti-aging tips."

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