Back Care Problems
Because humans defy gravity by standing upright, the spine is often under stress. This often leads to back pain, one of the most common reasons why Australians and New Zealanders visit their chiropractors. The secret to relief is to strenghthen both the vertebrae and the surrounding tissues.
What is it?
Although it's frequently very uncomfortable, most back pain isn't serious. Typically, the lower back, which supports almost all the body's weight, is the area most affected. But inflammation of, or even a minor injury to, any of the bones in the spine (vertebrae) or the muscles, cartilage, nerves or other tissue connected to the spine can bring on pain.
What causes it?
Most back pain is the result of muscle strain. Poor posture, weakened bones or cartilage, a slipped disc, a pinched nerve, or stress and emotional upset are other causes. Diseases such as arthritis or osteoporosis may lead to chronic back pain.
Are there any natural therapies?
Before beginning a therapeutic supplement proram, treatment from a chiropractor will help to ease the pain and discomfort of back pain. Supplements are aimed at building stronger bones and muscles, reducing inflammation and treating pain. Effects may be from taking supplements may be felt within a week.
People prone to back problems should start with vitamins and minerals that strengthen bones and cartilage, such as calcium, magnesium, vitamin C, vitamin D and manganese. In addition, various other supplements are worth trying, either singly or in combination. Some hospitals have had success using bromelain, an enzyme found in pineapples, to reduce inflammation and pain from surgery, trauma, sports injuries and arthritis. The nutritional supplement glucosamine builds cartilage, including the tissue supporting the spinal discs. And the herb white willow bark has pain-relieving characteristics similar to those of aspirin, but with fewer side effects. Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, flaxseed oil may also have healing analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties. All these supplements may reduce the need for conventional pain relievers and, except for white willow bark, can be taken along with them.
What else can I do?
- To improve posture, wear comfortable footwear, consider orthotics.
- Try therapeutic massage, chiropractic (spinal alignment), acupuncture or TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) for pain relief.
- Don't bend from the waist, bend your knees when lifting.
- Sit in a chair with lower-back support; take frequent breaks to stretch.
Did you know?
Doctors sometimes recommend a weeks or two of complete bed rest for back pain. But new research shows that – unless you have a slipped disc – just one or two days of rest can be more beneficial.
The two of the most popular non-prescription medications in Australia - ibuprofen (i.e. Advil) and acetaminophen (i.e. Tylenol) - have been promoted as "first-line" management of acute low back pain. These analgesics may cause potential kidney, stomach, and liver problems, however. Self-administered topical heat wraps may offer a drug-free alternative treatment for acute back pain.
In a recent study in the journal Spine, the authors compared eight hours/day of low-level topical heat therapy with maximal recommended dosages of ibuprofen and acetaminophen. Pain, muscle stiffness, disability, and back flexibility were compared in almost 400 people with back pain, ages 18-55, over two days of therapy and two days of follow-up.
Heat-wrap therapy was more effective than either drug. Heat wraps were significantly more effective than ibuprofen and acetaminophen in terms of self-reported pain relief. In the heat-wrap group, back flexibility was greater, and disability and muscle stiffness were lessened to a greater degree.
Chronic pain is often treated with over-the-counter painkillers and prescription drugs. These drugs may have unwanted side effects and can be very expensive.
TENS therapy provides easy to use and effective drug-free relief for the pain of arthritis, back pain, sciatica and many other kinds of chronic pain at a very affordable cost.
Back pain is one of the most common reasons people visit their doctor.
A herniated disk, sometimes (incorrectly) called a slipped disk, is a common cause of severe back pain and sciatica.
A herniated disc, can cause a number of painful and uncomfortable symptoms throughout the back, neck, and extremities.
Coping with a herniating disk can be a very serious and one of the most debilitating experiences, because of the nerves that are involved.