Holistic Practitioner Spotlight with Dr. Darrin Smith, a Licensed Athletic Trainer and Performance Enhancement Specialist
We are speaking with Dr. Darrin Smith, LAT, ATC, PES, CPN, who specializes in therapeutic exercise, rehabilitation, and applied biomechanical/neurological evaluation for chronic low back pain.
Tell Us a Story About a Case of Chronic Low Back Pain and How You Were Able to Find the Root Cause and Eliminate the Persistent Symptoms
I had the wonderful opportunity to work with Erika, a 21-year-old collegiate volleyball athlete who had been experiencing low back pain for six years. She experienced severe discomfort sitting and standing for long periods and partaking in any activity. Erika was very motivated to get better!
Erika had been taken through a standard evaluation and imaging. Her radiographic diagnosis was labeled as “sclerosis of L5”. While low back pain is often labeled as disc related, nerve root impingement, or facet dysfunction and helped her clinicians (athletic trainer, physical therapist, chiropractor) determine the severity of the damage, it did not provide the reason as to why the injury was present in the first place.
The treatments they provided did not alleviate her pain. In fact, it was getting worse. This raised a big red flag. I asked myself, “What’s been missed here?”
What Steps Did You Take to Figure Out the Appropriate Course of Action for this Chronic Low Back Pain?
Diagnosing the cause of chronic low back pain is tricky. The key here is finding the root cause. A thorough, detailed history is important. In performing a standard evaluation, I was able to determine that besides the painful movements of spinal extension and lateral side bending, all motion, motor control, and neurological screenings were normal. I went right into applied biomechanics to aid in the proper sequencing of spinal structures which led me to her problem immediately.
The big culprit that was previously overlooked for her chronic low back pain was that the sacrum was out of alignment with L5. Sacral and pelvic misalignment, known as sacroiliac dysfunction, very commonly mimics injuries diagnosed as disc pathology, nerve root impingement, and/or facet dysfunction. And while the condition is not unique, the treatment is often ineffective if not accurately assessed.
Traditional orthopedic evaluation has its limitations. It can often be puzzling to determine whether the root cause of the chronic low back pain is a mobility issue, stability problem, general medical contribution, psychological impact, or a combination.
Through several visits with me of muscle energy techniques and manual joint mobilization, the sacrum and ilia were correctly aligned. Within four visits, Erika was pain free in sitting, and within seven visits, she was completely pain free in extension and lateral side bending.
I have obtained written permission from the individual and recorded the evaluation entirely (with explanations as to what I’m doing and why). It can be viewed here. If you have unresolved chronic lower back pain, you’ll want to see this YouTube video.
Why and When Did You Choose a Non-Invasive Integrative Health Path?
I chose an integrative approach right out of the gates. Having undergone spinal surgery myself, I have made a concerted effort to immerse myself into the world of chronic low back pain. My goal? To prevent others from having to undergo surgery.
Dr. Darrin Smith’s contemporary expertise is in orthopedics and rehabilitation, where he specializes in functional evaluation, therapeutic exercise rehabilitation, and applied biomechanical/neurological evaluation.
Dr. Smith has been a practicing athletic trainer since 2000, an athletic training educator since 2000, and a Clinical Coordinator from 2004-2010.
In the classroom, Dr. Smith has taught a wide array of orthopedic content areas over his tenure spanning the past 20 years. He selectively pursues various continuing education opportunities in these content areas and often publicly presents on these topics as well.
Additionally, Dr. Smith serves as a reviewer for the Journal of Sport Rehabilitation and Cient Periodique Orthopaedics.
Dr. Darrin Smith LAT, ATC, PES, CPN
Morgan Shea Health and Wellness
Shorewood, WI, United States
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