Why is Eric Clapton having back problems? Dr. Charschan examines the clues, the diagnosis and offers Mr. Clapton some great advice.

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clapton liveWhy is Eric Clapton having back problems?  Dr. Charschan examines the clues, the diagnosis and offers Mr. Clapton some great advice. Eric Clapton, for those of you who are music fans has been in the music scene for years, since he was a teenager.  He is considered one of the great blues and rock players of our time, has hosted the Concert for the Crossroads to raise money for his rehab facility and has helped nurture newer artists through these events.  Rolling Stone Magazine listed him as number 2 in their top 100 guitar players of all time, next to Jimmy Hendrix. He also holds 17 Grammy awards as well. He has been diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy, which as reported by the Mayo Clinic, can cause pain in the arms and legs, which can be perceived as burning, tingling or pain in the arms and legs.   You can read more about his diagnosis and condition in the Washington Post article here. If we look at this from a conventional point of view, we can see the 71 year old guitar player succumbing to a problem that seems age related, since he has been touring for years, and an article in the Washington Post reveals ; "œI"™ve had quite a lot of pain over the last year," Clapton told Classic Rock Magazine. "œIt started with lower back pain and turned into what they call peripheral neuropathy, which is where you feel like you have electric shocks going down your leg. And I"™ve had to figure out how to deal with some other things from getting old." Treatments mostly focus on pain management and include pain relievers, anti-seizure medications and various therapies. Some patients are able to manage their pain, but some live with it for life." Eric is considering retiring since the pain has increased over the past few years. The bad news is that Eric believes that is has been his hard life of touring, alcohol abuse and substance abuse which is catching up with him.  What if he is wrong?   What if his problems are from something he does not understand, since his doctors are looking at his pain as a problem of degeneration, rather than a mechanical manifestation of his inherited body mechanics they don't understand either. Does Eric Clapton need a chiropractor?   Making a case for a mechanical problem causing his pain. clapton collage2 Most back pain is mechanical in nature, although there are many different ways different health professionals approach it.  We are mechanical beings, and in Mr. Clapton's case, he is no different than we are.  The truth is, we inherit our good looks, but also the way we stand and walk.   The way we walk and the way we learn to use our own body mechanics may actually be Eric's problem. Lets examine some of the evidence we can see in these photos spanning his career. In the book, Cheating Mother Nature, what you need to know to beat chronic pain, it describes how asymmetrical gait patterns are largely the cause of mechanical back pain, and after years of enduring the pain of inefficient inherited body mechanics, the back can degenerate, and many older folks can develop spinal stenosis, which can cause neuropathy.  The term neuropathy is actually very general, and means nerve pathology.  Other than that, the term is meaningless and a poor descriptor of Mr. Clapton's problem, but for many doctors, they will use this to justify injections, procedures and other ways to numb the pain, without any understanding of why the person is or has been in pain.   If that sounds crazy to you, it is.  How can we miss something so obvious. spinal torsionBrian Rothbart's model of Bio Implosion suggests that when the foot overpronates or falls in, or it turns out, it causes the shoulders to roll forward.  In Cheating Mother Nature, it discusses what happens to Rothbart's model when gait and the way we stand is asymmetrical.  In Eric's case, the foot on the overpronated side (See Claptons left foot falling in on all these photos throughout the years) affects the way he stands in every photo.  Since these problems are inherited, and since we get out of toddler gait by the age of about 5 or 6, the way we feel at that age is what we consider normal.   Actually, there is no normal, but there is what we consider normal for us.   Of course, then we get taller, women's hips get wider as we go through puberty and we adopt a gait pattern according to how we are built. When we see the model to the left, it shows what Mr. Clapton's is doing.   We also have something called myofascia which actually controls the way we move.   The muscles simply execute the movements with the guidance of the myofascia.   Since the fascia forms according to the forces we place upon it, the fascia will tighten over time and literally cause strain and compensation throughout the skeletal system, resulting in tight legs, and ineffective core and a torqued pelvis. A torqued core or pelvis is ineffective, and will result in pain in the back, with the severity of the pain and the age of when the person experiences the pain determined by the amount of asymmetry. tortipelvis While I could not find any information other than medical diagnosis of his condition, a problem like this requires a mechanical solution, and after years of malfunction, conditions such as spinal stenosis and osteoarthritis will develop, as well as degeneration of the hips as well. Simply stated, Mr. Clapton needs a body mechanic. Mr. Clapton's 's age of 71 is not too old to benefit from better care management however, it is much more desirable to properly diagnose and manage a condition like this before the damage has occurred while the person is at a younger age. Something as simple as foot orthotics worn throughout the years can make quite a difference years later . Avoiding medications, exercises that cannot work and other traditional therapies that are of dubious benefit are a wise decision.  It is also wise to avoid many of the medical procedures that are often suggested due to their cost, safety and overall effectiveness in improving his quality of life. The most effective approach may be seeing a chiropractor, who through the use of spinal manipulation, flexion distraction, myofascial release and exercises is most likely to help Mr. Clapton's get the relief he desires, and continue playing guitar, something his fans would love to see. Some suggestions that can help Mr. Clapton get out of pain safely.
  • Foot orthotics, either off the shelf or custom - Foot orthotics can level the hips.   In each photo, notice his hips dips on his left side secondary to his overpronated foot.   Foot orthotics can improve the hip alignment and function and improve the way he feels while on stage and while just walking around.
  • Find a good chiropractor who can help you.  Look for someone who understands how to do muscle work such as myofascial release.  Myofascial release can improve the function of the fascial system and restore movement that has been lost, and the painful compensations in his pelvis causing the neuropathy.
  • Do core stability and strengthening exercises.
  • Get a good foam roller that you can take on the road to help you stay loose.
Mr. Clapton, I hope this helps.  BTW, read my book, I think you will find it quite enlightening. Read Cheating Mother Nature, what you need to know to beat chronic pain, available through Amazon.com.