Exercise can cure back pain and help you avoid surgery

I like to follow the news to see what people are writing about pain. While peer reviewed papers is my preferred information source, reading mainstream articles keep me up-to-date with the fake news I have to fight.

Your pain is not all in your head. Or is it?

pain is not all in the headGuardian published a really good article today to highlight that chronic pain often presents without a structural cause. This is accurate and something that mainstream news doesn’t talk about enough.

They also highlighted that their pain is real and that it’s not just all in the head.

I think this is where gets a little contentious.

Pain experts d0 all agree that pain is real. This much is true.

However, most also agree that pain is an experience that is an output of your brain.

He likens the experience of pain to the noise produced by an electric guitar; to make it louder, you can either strum the strings harder or turn up the amplifier. In this analogy, the strings are represented by the peripheral nerves carrying sensory information from our organs and tissues, and the amplifier by the brain and spinal cord.

In that sense, pain is should all in our heads. Not just for you but for everyone!

There are just so many nuances to chronic pain and it can be hard to get all of them right.

Your chronic pain may worsen after recovering COVID

Disclaimer: I have not fact-checked this and COVID research is not something I follow tightly.

This is the part of the article that falls outside of my expertise.

A study published in April did find that 40% developed musculoskeletal-related pain after recovering from COVID. Musculoskeletal-related pain refers to conditions such as back pain, neck pain, shoulder pain, etc.

The study had a good sample size (1200 patients) and was also published in a reputable journal (Pain).

Reach out to me if you want more information on this. I’ll be happy to chat more.

Fake news from GQ

dr oz back pain
Reminds me of the fake news from Dr Oz where he suggested that our <a href=httpschiropractor singaporecomsgresourcesstop caring about the degeneration in your x ray or mri reports>spinal discs<a> are like jelly filled donuts You really cant trust everything you see on the internet

It’s bizarre how people love to publish strong this or strong that will help you prevent pain.

Well, fake news.

GQ posted an earlier this month on how psoas muscle can help you fight back pain.

They interviewed an expert (a physiotherapist) but cited zero papers to support their claim. How infuriating.

Sure, increase in psoas muscle activity had been reported in patients with lower back pain. But that doesn’t even come close to saying that exercising your hip flexors will help you prevent back pain.

If anything, it’s suggesting too much activity at your iliopsoas may increase your likelihood of back pain (also unlikely).

It annoys me a little because back pain sufferers may try some of the suggested exercises only to find that their pain is no better. The end result? The may think exercise doesn’t work.

Because of one bad experience from one bad article.

Keep calm and exercise is good advice!

Not everything you find on Google is trashy.

Guardian killed it again with another article that’s clinical guideline congruent. Much better than our own Singapore General Hospital‘s article on back pain.

Keep calm is indeed an evidence-based advice for musculoskeletal pain. Reassurance and advice to stay active (i.e., avoid bed rest *hint hint SGH*) is first-line treatment according to The Lancet.

Exercise is also considered one of the best treatment options for chronic pain. Across all clinical guidelines.

You can exercise at 80! And proactively manage your own pain.

80 year old man with sciatica
Age is just a number You can be 80 and be fit and pain free

We previously about how a 76-year old women was powerlifting despite having arthritic knees. In fact, she used strength training as treatment.


Today we introduce you to Jack Noonan, an 80 year old retiree.

He suffered from sciatic pain. So serious that he couldn’t even go for a walk.

As someone with personal experiences with sciatica, I can tell you it’s no joke. It hurts even when you are trying to sleep.

Putting on clothes in the shower become a health hazard because the sudden jolt of pain can easily cause you to slip and fall. It’s difficult.

Jack Noonan had a hardened perineural cyst in his spine and he was told that surgery was his only option. He ended up going for physiotherapist instead and worked on exercises to help himself.

Not only did he do the prescribe exercises, he devised his own exercise programme from his physiotherapists as well as from yoga.

The end result?

He is pain-free and he didn’t need surgery.

Yeah, pain does not equal damage.

pain neuroscience education, chiropractor singapore, chronic pain
Pain is complex You can have pain without damage and this is often the case in persistent pain

This rehashes what I’ve been going on and on about across my blog and social media accounts.

Pain doesn’t mean damage. 

Not only that, “damage” also doesn’t mean pain!

Jack had a hardened cyst, remember?

Exercise is not going to make that go away. He probably still has the cyst in his spine. But he has no more pain!

This is why I always encourage clients to ignore their x-rays and MRIs.

As long as your scans don’t show anything life threatening, you are good to ignore it. Don’t let your scans dictate your recovery.

It is very possible for you to achieve very good results regardless of what your imaging shows!

Jesse, stop nagging at me!

I mean, really, I mostly talk about the same things just in different ways.

Almost everything, if not everything, I have written about is referenced to research studies.

Sure, I’ll be happy to admit that my treatment methodology doesn’t suit everyone. However, it is likely still your best shot at a successful recovery.

If you have been living in pain despite having tried many treatments, you are probably not receiving evidence-based care.

If you have been exercising yourself to no avail, you probably don’t have a good recovery strategy. That makes sense! It’s after all not your subject matter expertise.

It’s not because exercise doesn’t work.

If you think you have had enough of poor results, and you’d like to let me help you find true freedom from pain, reach out to me via the form below. Come discover the difference the right care can make!



Frustrated by the lack of results-driven and ethical chiropractic clinics in Singapore, Chiropractor Jesse Cai found Square One Active Recovery to deliver meaningful and sustainable pain solutions.

Our goal? To make our own services redundant to you.

*We do not offer temporary pain relief such as chiropractic adjustments, dry needling, or any form of soft tissue therapy.