loren fishman new york times jan 2013

An article was posted online recently by the Medical Director of Manhattan Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation which focuses on back pain and alternative therapies, and specifically Alexander Techique:  Here is an excerpt:

Last month, a hunched-over patient came to me complaining of such severe pain that she could not bear physical therapy. All she wanted was an opium-based medication. She’d been in this situation for about four years, and said she knew what would help: either this drug or that drug, but not some other ones. I asked her about her history. When did her pain begin? Did she have any clue about the reason for it? What were her activities? While we were having this rather long conversation, I began to suspect that I knew the reason for this woman’s problem. She sat at a computer all day. Her posture was poor. She was hunched over!

It wasn’t that her posture was a result of her pain, it was that her pain was a result of her posture. I checked her physically, and sure enough, the muscles in her back were in impressive spasm. I gave her several injections that gave her quite a bit of immediate relief. Then I sent her for a massage, wrote out a plan for physical therapy and made what was perhaps the most important recommendation for the future. I referred her to a teacher of Alexander technique who could help her get to the root of her problem and correct it. So much of Alexander technique is about posture. It took nearly a month, because changing old habits can be difficult. But then this woman cancelled her scheduled follow-up appointment with me because, as she said, “I don’t need it.”

The article references the British Medical Journal study discussed previously in this blog and also an earlier New York Times article on the same issue.