MEAT (M.E.A.T.: Movement, Exercise, Analgesic, and Treatment)

When many patients experience back pain in the absence of an injury or medical disorder, they may immediately think that there's something seriously wrong with their backs. These people who suddenly experience back pain for no apparent reason think of their friends who suffer from chronic pain or have back conditions that they describe as "slipped discs" or "herniated discs". Before any of you suffering from back pain go into hysterics, here are a few things that you should know.

First, the vast majority of acute back pain cases do not turn into chronic cases. You will likely feel better on your own, within a matter of weeks - not months or forever. Most cases of acute back pain involve injuries to structures in your back that don't become permanently damaged. Most cases of back pain involve damage to the muscles or ligament which supports the spine. When these structures become injured, a person may experience severe pain, though the pain will subside as these structures begin to heal themselves. Even though these structures do often heal on their own, without medical intervention, there are some things that we can to speed the healing process. These treatments usually involve conservative therapies that you can do on your own, as will be mentioned further in this article. Some of these conservative treatments include MEAT and RICE. MEAT is an acronym for - Movement, exercise, analgesic, and treatment. RICE is an acronym for Resting, Ice, Compression, and Elevation.

Second, people must understand that degenerative changes to the structures in your back that are more permanent do not signify a new reality full of pain and disability that you will have to endure for the rest of your life. Some changes in your back, such as degenerative disc disease, are largely irreversible, despite the commercials and advertisement that you see on the internet or TV that propose their miracle cures to heal you. Over time, the discs that cushion your spine do lose their youthful vibrancy. These discs do lose their volume of material that gives them their thickness and shock absorbing properties. Also, the covers of these discs may degrade and thin over time, in some cases resulting in tears that are known medically as herniated discs. What we need to know is that in many cases, we only experiencing back pain and related symptoms for a short period of time, before the body adjusts to these changes and the pain subsides. In cases such as these, the pain will often subside on its own, but we may also use conservative treatments such as MEAT and RICE to minimize the severity of symptoms.



Let's take a closer look at M.E.A.T.: Movement, Exercise, Analgesic, and Treatment. In this article, we will describe the clinical benefits of this conservative program and how it fares compared to RICE in term of benefits.

MEAT is kind of a more aggressive alternative to RICE in terms of patients taking a more active approach to getting better. People who are proponents of MEAT say that extended periods of bed rest or reduced mobility may actually exacerbate the patients back pain or other orthopedic problems. These people may be more likely to contend that in many cases, people experience pain because of a sedentary lifestyle or improper body mechanics. By shutting yourself down or inhibiting all of your movements, you may actually further de-conditioned your already weakened muscles, causing more of a back problem.

People who are believers in the MEAT program believe that we need to jumpstart the process of healing by developing the muscles that support the back, and the cardiovascular system which supplies healing nutrients to the parts of the body that have become injured. The MEAT-o-philes think that anything that decreases the metabolic rate or blood supply to the muscles and ligaments, such as resting and icing, will further increase the decline in health of the structures that have become injured. Here is a brief overview of the MEAT program.

Movement: After confirmation from your doctor that the injured part of your back will not become further damaged by movement; you must get that part of the body moving again to jump start the healing process. Movement exercises will increase circulation and prevent adhesions.

Exercise: Assuming that you do don't aggravate the injury, exercises that strengthen the area around the injury should have the effect at providing you with some level of pain relief. Exercises should begin after the acute stage of injury.

Analgesia: Even if certain movements and exercises are essential to the healing process, they may be difficult to do when they cause you pain. Certain medications, both pharmaceutical and natural, may help you to complete a MEAT program. Analgesics are products that decrease the pain you feel. Many analgesics work by controlling the amount of inflammation that develops in the affected areas of injury.

Treatment: Specific back pain treatments such as physical therapy, electrical stimulation, and massage therapy may accelerate the healing process by improving blood flow to the injured areas.