A Health Spirals
For the purpose of understanding disease (in particular, back pain) and health, it can be useful to think of the body as consisting of a series of interlocking feedback loops. Computer scientists coined the term feedback loop which was quickly taken on by many diverse fields including biology; Cells interact with each other and with the body at large through feedback mechanisms. A cell receives information about the environment, for example temperature. It alters its chemistry in response to temperature changes so that it can function optimally. Cells are continually responding to changes in their environment; this is a simple feedback system.
Your muscles, which are made up of cells, are individual units responding to their environment through feedback loops. When you need to run, your muscles will respond to the command from your brain, moving your legs appropriately. When you stop running your muscles will relax and recuperate. While you are exercising the feedback loop will be processing in one direction; as you relax or unwind the loop processes in the opposite direction.
Health exists when there is a balance between winding up and unwinding. Illness begins when a loop is continually processed in one direction and there is no counterbalance.
So, for example, instead of relaxing, a muscle remains chronically tense. An out of balance loop soon turns into a destructive spiral; a tense muscle pulls on a joint causing it to compress. The joint reacts by causing the muscle to tighten still further to protect it. The process spirals into degeneration and pain which, left unattended, can culminate in irreversible conditions like arthritis.
As a negative spiral can engulf the whole organism. If your symptoms overwhelm you, you can lose your positive outlook on life and this will feed back, making the problem worse.
It is generally recognised that in the area of backache, a holistic approach is vital. A good clinician will, not only do a thorough investigation, diagnose and treat the physical issues; they will also address all aspects of the negative spiral that led to the condition in the first place; They will attempt to turn a negative spiral into a positive spiral of health and well-being so that their patients feel better every day.