What is Back Pain?
The topic seems fairly self-explanatory but back pain can be caused by many different things. It can be caused by tight muscles, food intolerances, stress, disc herniation, pregnancy, or even injury. Whatever the reason, natural treatment relieves pain at the source without drugs or side effects.
What are the signs and symptoms associated with back pain?
- pain (obviously)
- tingling in your back or legs
- numbness in your back or legs
- cramping in your back or legs
- tightness in your back
- muscle spasms
What Causes Back Pain?
Here are some common causes of back pain:
- Systemic inflammation
- Muscle tension
- Bulging discs
- Degenerative discs
- Weak abdominal muscles
- Being overweight or obese
During pregnancy, your ligaments relax to allow your pelvis to expand at delivery. With the added weight of a baby and relaxed ligaments, there is a greater incidence of back and joint problems. Chiropractic care and acupuncture are safe and effective ways to relieve pregnancy-related pain.
Pain can be caused by inflammation that originates from your muscles or nerves if they aren’t functioning normally, but also from inflammation in your gut.
Tense muscles prevent normal freedom of movement of your back and spine and increase the risk of disc herniation. Relieving muscle tension with massage therapy, chiropractic care and counseling for stress relief can help relax those tight muscles.
Disc herniation or bulging discs
The bones of the spine (vertebrae) are cushioned by a spongy disc. Excessive pressure on the disc can cause it to bulge or herniate. This then presses on nerves, causing pain. Correcting alignment with a chiropractor and/or osteopath can help take pressure off the disc.
With age, the spongy discs between the bones of your spine get worn down. This wear and tear decrease the space for your nerves to pass through. Because of this lack of space, nerves get pinched and bone rubs against bone. This leads to pain in your back. Discs are strengthened and restored through proper nutrition, hydration, and proper alignment of your spine.
Weak abdominal muscles and being overweight/obesity
Your core muscles stabilize your spine. Weak core muscles and increased abdominal weight add to back strain. Use of core strength exercises like yoga and pilates or specifically recommended exercises from our chiropractor or massage therapist can help.
What is the best natural treatment for back pain?
- Herbal medicine
- Vitamins, minerals, supplements
- Exercise, stretching
- Massage therapy
- Chiropractic treatment
The cause of your discomfort may be food allergies/intolerances! Did you know that your brain doesn’t interpret “pain” from your organs? This means that irritation and inflammation in your intestines (organs) can actually be interpreted as pain in your back. This is because the same nerves that go to your intestines go to some of your back muscles. The brain thinks the “pain” is more likely coming from your back. Our naturopathic doctor will help you identify and treat gut problems and food sensitivities.
Avoid pro-inflammatory foods
Red meat, trans fats, and food allergies promote inflammation in your body generally. Anti-inflammatory foods like fish and fish oil can help to reduce inflammation and pain. Again, food sensitivities add to inflammation in your body and should be removed.
Herbs relieve pain and reduce inflammation. There are many effective herbal anti-inflammatories, that don’t have unwanted side effects like NSAIDs do. One study found that Capsicum frutescens (cayenne), Harpagophytum procumbens (devil’s claw), Salix alba (white willow bark), Symphytum officinale (comfrey), Solidago chilensis (Brazilian arnica), and lavender essential oil all reduced pain more than placebo.
In a 2009 study, women who had ear acupuncture at three points were more likely to experience significant reductions in low back and pelvic pain than the control group. A 30 percent or greater reduction in pain was reported by 81 percent of women in the acupuncture group. Thirty-seven percent of women in the acupuncture group were pain-free after a week of acupuncture.
SOURCE: American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology, September 2009.
Vitamins, minerals and amino acids
These vital nutrients can help you build a healthy spine, strengthen your discs, relax your tense muscles and help your brain to produce natural pain relievers. These include serotonin, GABA, nitric oxide, serine, and acetylcholine.
Exercise helps to strengthen your abs and your core, balance muscles, and help you lose weight if necessary.
Authored by Naturopath Dr. Pamela Frank
Natural Treatment for Back Pain Research:
Gagnier JJ, Oltean H, van Tulder MW, Berman BM, Bombardier C, Robbins CB. Herbal medicine for low back pain: a Cochrane review. Spine. 2016; 41(2): 116-33.
In 14 trials (2050 participants), assessing pain-relieving herbs, Cayenne reduced pain more than placebo with adequate evidence and Devil’s claw, White willow bark, Comfrey, Brazilian arnica, and lavender essential oil all reduced pain more than placebo with moderate quality evidence.
Acupuncture, Yoga, Tai Chi, Massage Therapy, and Relaxation Techniques:
Nahin RL, Boineau R, Khalsa PS, Stussman BJ, Weber WJ. Evidence-based evaluation of complementary health approaches for pain management in the United States. Mayo Clin Proceedings. 2016; 91(9): 1292-1306.
● This review found the following complementary approaches helped people with the following chronic painful conditions:
o Acupuncture and yoga for back pain
o Acupuncture and tai chi for osteoarthritis of the knee
o Massage therapy for neck pain
o Relaxation techniques for severe headaches and migraines
o Weaker evidence for relaxation and tai chi for fibromyalgia
Vitamin D supplementation may be useful for pain and low back function in patients with failed back surgery syndrome. Source: J Orthop Surg (Hong Kong), 2012 Apr; 20(1):18-22.
Motion style acupuncture therapy was found to have positive effects on immediate pain relief and functional recovery of acute low back pain and severe functional disability. Source: Pain, 2013 March 15.
Acupuncture might provide an immediate effect in reducing the pain of acute low back pain safely without adverse effects. Source: Liu YT, Chiu CW, Chang CF, Lee TC, Chen CY, Chang SC, Lee CY, Lo LC. Efficacy and Safety of Acupuncture for Acute Low Back Pain in Emergency Department: A Pilot Cohort Study. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2015;2015:179731. doi: 10.1155/2015/179731.
…physiotherapy, osteopathic manipulation, multimodal intervention (exercise and education), exercises performed in a water environment, acupuncture, etc., have proven to be effective. Source: Gallo-Padilla D, Gallo-Padilla C, Gallo-Vallejo FJ, Gallo-Vallejo JL. Low back pain during pregnancy. Multidisciplinary approach. Semergen. 2015 Jul 31. pii: S1138-3593(15)00247-6. doi: 10.1016/j.semerg.2015.06.005.
Supplements for Back Pain:
Multi-nutrient supplementation reduced inflammatory markers and improved physical function in middle-aged men and women. Source: Nutr J. 2011 Sep 7; 10:90.
Eating certain substances called advanced glycation end-products could be a factor contributing to a pre-diabetic state, calcifications in spinal tissues, and musculoskeletal complications that are more generally known to occur with chronic diabetic conditions. Source: Illien-Jünger S, Lu Y, Qureshi SA, Hecht AC, Cai W, Vlassara H, Striker GE, Iatridis JC. Chronic ingestion of advanced glycation end products induces degenerative spinal changes and hypertrophy in aging pre-diabetic mice. PLoS One. 2015 Feb 10;10(2):e0116625. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0116625. eCollection 2015.
Our findings show that a 2-week intravenous magnesium infusion followed by 4 weeks of oral magnesium supplementation can reduce pain intensity and improve lumbar spine mobility during a 6-month period in patients with chronic low back pain with a neuropathic component. Source: Yousef AA, Al-deeb AE. A double-blinded randomized controlled study of the value of sequential intravenous and oral magnesium therapy in patients with chronic low back pain with a neuropathic component. Anaesthesia. 2013 Mar;68(3):260-6. doi: 10.1111/anae.12107. Epub 2012 Dec 17.