Laughter and Low Back Pain

by Chiropractors Brighton on May 22, 2009


Get regular chiropractic adjustments and laugh!

Rather than numbing the problem with drugs, or surgically removing the problem, we have always been proud of the fact that we seek the underlying cause of a patient’s low back pain or sciatic nerve involvement.

While subluxation is a common culprit, a closer look shows another issue: psychosocial (our interactions with our environment) issues. That’s a fancy way of saying that your psychological response to social situations may be a contributing factor to your low back pain. It is not uncommon for emotional distress to cause subluxations in the spine.

Back pain is a worldwide problem and is the leading cause of disability in the USA. Lost productivity and treatment tax the health care system, with 20% of patients seeking the advice of more than one doctor. In the UK, almost 10% of adults consult a doctor each year due to back pain.

Research is showing that depression and chronic low back pain may be related. In a sample of 31 veterans with chronic low back pain who completed a depression questionnaire inventory, those who suffered from depression scored significantly higher than those who weren’t. Laughter is one of the simple joys of life; and recent studies say we need twelve laughs a day, just to stay healthy! It costs nothing to have a Positive Mental Attitude and makes such a difference to our general health.

The mind tells the body what to do, how to act, what cells need replacing, when to speed up, when to slow down, when to heat up, when to cool down we can even influence which hormones will be produced in our own personal drug factory by laughing or crying or thinking and/or feeling any other emotion at all.

In fact everything that happens in the small world of our own body is controlled and co-ordinated from our brain.

Dr. Norman Cousins in his book Anatomy of an Illness described how watching Marx Brother movies helped him recover from ankylosing spondylitis, the degenerative disease which causes the breakdown of collagen – the fibrous tissue that binds together the body’s cells. Almost completely paralyzed, given only a few months to live, Cousins checked himself out of the hospital and moved into a hotel room and began taking extremely high doses of vitamin C and also exposed himself to equally high doses of humour. Slowly Norman regained use of his limbs. As his condition steadily improved over the following months, Cousins resumed his busy life, eventually returning to work full-time at the Saturday Review. Cousins details his journey in “Anatomy of an Illness.”

“Is it possible,” he wondered, “that love, hope, faith, laughter and confidence and the will to live could have therapeutic value?” Cousins made it a point to enjoy a hearty belly laugh several times a day. A few minutes of laughter gave him an hour or more of pain-free sleep. He also discovered that laughter was an antidote to apprehension and panic.

Medical studies show that laughter boosts levels of endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers, and suppresses levels of epinephrine, the stress hormone. It also helps to eliminate toxins from the body.

According to Arnold Glasgow, “Laughter is a tranquilizer with no side effects.”

In an ABC television interview, Professor Lee Berk, who has studied laughter and medicine for the past eighteen years, explained that laughter increased the Natural Killer Cell activity, the cells that destroy viruses and tumors. Laughter increased disease-fighting proteins – B-cells, the source of a disease-destroying antibody, and T-cells which help cellular immune response.

Further research has shown that laughter can also reduce food cravings. We actually use large numbers of muscles while laughing as well as improving our physical, mental and emotional state by reducing our levels of stress hormones. This all leads to a stronger immune system and increases our threshold for pain. A good belly laugh exercises the diaphragm, contracts the abs and even works out the shoulders. It also exercises the lungs and circulatory system and increases the amount of oxygen in the blood – it provides a good workout for the heart and massages many other vital organs as well – does it get better than this – just by laughing!

Mary Pettibone Poole said – “He who laughs, lasts”.

There’s so much we can learn from children – just watch how many times children laugh in the space of five minutes.  Scientist Boris Sokoloff explained, that happiness can be learned, just like playing golf, swimming or riding a bike.  Norman Cousins said that hearty laughter is a good way to jog internally without having to go outdoors!  The study of humour and laughter, and its psychological and physiological effects on the human body is called gelotology.

Conclusion? – Laugh! Get regular chiropractic adjustments and laugh and laugh and laugh.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

seattle chiropractor January 15, 2011 at 1:15 am

Thanks for the great post. You are absolutely right- Developing and manifesting a positive attitude makes life happier AND more successful!

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