The Science


The Science of Spinal Flow™


In this section I intend to go into some depth on the medical literature and actual research that contributed to making Spinal Flow™ what it is. I’ll be citing the research as to what contributes to neck and back pain grouping it by category. My intention is to cite and link to each paper’s Pubmed abstract and note if free full text is available. For those not familiar with medical research, Pubmed is the world’s largest medical database and the abstract is the summary of the article and research findings. I’ll likely be quoting short excerpts from the abstract and quotes from the full article which are often way more interesting and sometimes vary markedly from what you would gather from just reading the summary – which is one of the sources of confusion in the treatment of spine pain. Unfortunately, almost all of these articles are written in medical speak, which is not at all laymen friendly, but I will do my best to make my writing understandable to those without scientific or medical training. A certain amount of familiarity with spine terminology is expected so if you have not read the sources of confusion or the causes of spine pain I would encourage you to read them first to provide context and some terminology before delving more deeply into the research that follows.

Also while I’ll try and group things together by topic and relate one article to another where I can, medical research is largely disjointed (another source of confusion), so I hope when appropriate to make comments regarding what question I still have after reading a paper, where I think a researcher was brilliant, and where I think their findings missed something or their conclusion was misleading. So I’m hoping to make some sense for others out of what often feels like conflicting information, and also list why I accept or reject a given research finding and say how it influenced the development of Spinal Flow™.

I don’t expect this to be light reading, nor do I expect it will appeal to the average person with spine pain. Spine pain and the treatment thereof is really not that complicated, and you really don’t need to know all the details. However, sorting through the medical literature to find out what the causes and effective treatments for spine pain literally was an ordeal that I have devoted years of my life to. So I’m hoping to do that ordeal justice here, and provide the citations to inspire confidence when needed that Spinal Flow™ truly is the most scientifically developed yoga or home based treatment for chronic and recurrent neck and back pain that there is.

I expect I’ll be adding to this page frequently, and break it down into separate pages by topic. Some papers might fall under more than one category so I’ll probably copy that information into both, so each category will remain complete on it’s own.

Low back pain the number one cause of years suffering worldwide. Neck pain number four.

Years lived with disability (YLDs) for 1160 sequelae of 289 diseases and injuries 1990-2010: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2010. Voss et al. Lancet. 2012 Dec 15;380(9859):2163-96.

“The leading specific causes of YLDs were much the same in 2010 as they were in 1990: low back pain, major depressive disorder, iron-deficiency anaemia, neck pain, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, anxiety disorders, migraine, diabetes, and falls.”

“A substantial number of causes contribute to the overall YLDs at the global level. The leading causes were low back pain, which contributes more than 10.7% of total YLDs, and major depressive disorder, which contributed 8.1% of total YLDs.

“Together musculoskeletal disorders caused 21.3% of all YLDs the main contributors were low back pain (83.1 million YLDs), neck pain (33.6 million YLDs) osteoarthritis (17.1 million YLDs) and other musculoskeletal category (28.2 million YLDs). Osteoarthritis of the knee accounted for 83% of the total arthritis burden.”

“Demographic historians have noted the rise in reported morbidity as mortality decreases.”

“As life expectancy increases people can expect to spend a greater number of years living with reduced health…”

“Low back pain stands out as the leading MSK [musculoskeletal] disorder because of a combination of similarly high prevalence rate and a greater disability weight associated with this health state.”

“Low back and neck pain accounted for 70% of all YLDs from musculoskeletal disorders, and for every YLD due to neck pain there were 2.5 YLDs related to low back pain.”

“Effective and affordable strategies to deal with this rising burden are an urgent priority for health systems in most parts of the world.”

My comments:

To parse it out the top 10 was

  1. Low back pain
  2. Major depressive disorder
  3. Anemia
  4. Neck pain
  5. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
  6. Anxiety disorders
  7. Migraine headaches
  8. Diabetes
  9. Falls
  10. Osteoarthritis (knee and hip)

The remarkable finding about low back pain, and to a lesser extent neck pain is that they are A) so common, B) cause high levels of disability, and C) don’t kill you, so you have to live with that disability for so long. Also while I developed Spinal Flow™ specifically for low back and neck pain, because it’s designed to be an overall fitness routine it should help with the prevention and management of the majority of the other conditions. I agree with the need for “effective and affordable strategies” which even in first world USA is a major problem with high insurance deductibles and copayments pricing many people out of effective health care. And as we’ll see for low back and neck pain even unaffordable health care isn’t that effective. Solving that dilemma is my major motivation for making Spinal Flow™ as educational and inexpensive as possible. 

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