Why be concerned?
A study that was performed in Canada showed that 30-40% of all workplace absences are due to back pain. Many experts assess that up to 80% of the population will experience low back pain in their lifetime. This is four out of every five people and over fifty billion dollars are spent per year in the pursuit of treating back pain in the US alone!
What should you do you have back pain ?
If you are experiencing back pain , the first step is to be properly assessed by your primary care provider.
Back pain has many causes: from muscle strain to more serious conditions that need to be ruled out such as: Herniated disc, Spinal stenosis, Spondylolisthesis, Osteoporosis or a tumor, so it is vital to confirm why you are having back pain.
Back pain can range from a dull, constant ache to a sudden , sharp pain . Acute back pain comes on suddenly and usually lasts from a few days to a few weeks. Back pain is defined as chronic if it lasts for more than three months. It is most important to seek medical attention immediately following an injury and if it doesn’t improve after three days.
Why is this happening?
Today’s trends of being overworked and under participating in exercise are the highest link to back pain. Research shows that : Over two – thirds of back injuries are a result of overexertion. Most often causes of back pain and overexertion are:
- Lifting or exerting incorrectly
- Slouching in chairs
- Driving in a hunched position
- Poor Posture
- Sleeping on a sagging mattress
- Being unfit or carrying excess weight- people who cope best with back pain are those that stay active
- Carrying a child on your hip or otherwise incorrectly
- Long period of time at the computer or desk
- Fatigue and pushing the body while in this state
- Age relationship- aging of the back begins before the age of 30 i.e. osteoarthritic changes, reduction in the synovial fluid increasing friction in the joints
- Repetitive Actions: Repetitive actions that strain the back
General Back Facts:
- Smokers are more likely to get back pain
- People with previous back pain are very likely to get a return of it again within a couple of years.
- The longer you stay off work due to a back injury , the less likely you are to return to work.
- Back pain can often subside within four to six weeks.
- How you handle back pain plays a larger role in your recovery and its return.
What are the Connections Related to This Trend?
The 6 Phases of Connection include: For details on the Health Wellness Spectrum See Revivelife Wellness Newsletter April Allergies, Asthma and Eczema; and www.optihealth.ca to take your questionnaire.
Phase 1- Wellness – A balance of Sympathetic and Parasympathetic Nervous System ( NS) Phase 2- Adrenal 1– Adrenaline- Stimulation of Sympathetic NS Phase 3- Adrenal 2– Fatigue- Protection mechanism and body to rebalance creates a shift into Parasympathetic NS Phase 4- Digestive Weakness– Reduction of enzymes , acidifies the body Phase 5- Chronic Inflammation – Cytokine Syndrome- all the markers of Inflammation ( same marker released when one has the flu) TNF, IL-6 and IL-1 Phase 6- Back Pain – Amplification of Mental Emotional decline as one can’t participate in exercise and is restricted in life enjoyment. Aggravation of Lack of Support Feelings.
What are the Natural Treatment Options?
- Acupuncture- Research shows that acupuncture can reduce pain and reduce worry related to pain significantly (The long term symptom reduction and economic benefits of acupuncture for persistent low back pain, Sheffield University ,UK, 2006 ). Acupuncture is based on the philosophy that pain results from blocked energy meridians that relate to pathways in the body. When these are unblocked with acupuncture the body is able to release natural pain relieving opioids that send signals that calm the sympathetic nervous system and releases neurochemicals and hormones.
- Bowen Therapy– bowtech.com Research showed that individuals with back pain that received that Bowen therapy over a 12 month period , patients rated the Bowen technique as 85% effective for back pain and 80% effective for stress and tension.( The clinical effects of Bowen Therapy on Back Pain: Dr. John Bauman, DDS , 2006). The Bowen therapy is a type of gentle bodywork that was developed in Australia by osteopath Tom Bowen ( 1916-1982). Bowen therapists use a series of specialized “ moves “ using their fingers and thumbs. The moves typically involve the therapist pulling the skin slack away from the muscle, applying pressure and then quickly releasing the tension. These moves are performed on precise areas of muscles where special receptors are located. Nerve impulses are then sent to the brain resulting in muscle relaxation and reduction of pain. There is a response time and the therapist allows the client to rest for a few minutes between each move. A typical treatment is between 30-40 minutes and is very relaxing.
- Homeopathy– Traumeel and other customized remedies such as Rhus Tox- i.e. pain worse in the morning on rising , better with slow and steady motion and as the day progresses.
- Alkalize the Body– When the body is acidic it is in a state to promote arachidonic formation and PG2 or markers of inflammation . It is important to have your body assessed and make changes to detoxify and alkalize the body. A diet high in dark green leafy vegetables and a vegetarian base assist the body in remaining in an alkaline state.
- Essential Fatty Acids-It has been well documented that the addition of omega 3 fatty acids such as flax, linseed, walnut, soy, wheat germ, chestnut, sesame and canola oils in a “cold pressed “ form reduces inflammation.
- Food Intolerance Assessment and Detoxification– to alkalize the body further. Some individuals have noted that when they eat their intolerant food they notice a direct link to their back pain.
- Magnesium– Is involved many roles including normal muscle and nerve function. . A German study found that mineral supplements increased intracellular magnesium levels by 11% and was associated with a reduction in pain symptoms in 76 out of 82 people with chronic low back pain ( The effects of magnesium on chronic low back pain , Germany 2005).
- Vitamin D– Chronic muscle pain can be a symptom of Vitamin D deficiency. You can increase your source of this vital nutrient by increasing fish with small bones, fortified beverages , cereals and a minimum of 20 minutes exposure to sunlight. A study by the University of Minnesota looked at the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in 150 people with chronic musculoskeletal pain . Researchers found that 93% of patients had vitamin D deficiency. The researchers concluded that all people with persistent , non-specific musculoskeletal pain should be screened for vitamin D deficiency.
- Vitamin B 12– has been found to relieve low back pain . In a double –blind Italian study the safety and effectiveness of vitamin B12 for low back pain was investigated. People who received vitamin B12 showed a statistically significant reduction in pain and disability thus using less pain medication . Vitamin B12 muscle injections are very effective treatment for vitamin B12 deficiency.
- Bromelain and other protein digesting enzymes– are very effective in reducing inflammation. Bromelain is a natural substance which is found in pineapple plants . The Commission E in Germany , which is comparable to the US Food and Drug Administration approved bromelain for the reduction of inflammation and pain after surgery in Germany.
- Capsaicin Cream– In a double –blind study 160 people were treated with capsaicin for 3 weeks, while the other 160 people used a placebo. After 3 weeks the pain was reduced by 42% in the capsaicin group compared to 31% in the placebo group.
- Herbs such as Willow Bark-( Salix Alba) has pain relieving properties. The ingredient salicin is converted in the body to salicylic acid ( as aspirin is) and salicylic acid is believed to be the active ingredient that relieves pain and inflammation. A study in the American Journal of Medicine examined 191 patients with an exacerbation of chronic low back pain. They were randomly assigned to receive a willow bark extract with either 120mg or 240mg of salicin or placebo. In the fourth week of treatment 39% of people receiving the high dose extract were pain free, 21% of the low dose group were pain free and 6% of the placebo group were pain free. People in the high dose group improved after the first week.
- Body Mind Connection- in Louise Hay’s Book You Can Heal Your Life, she assists one in understanding the Body Mind Connection for the Back and Feeling Lack of Support in significant areas of your life. Connecting with your counsellor and or Naturopathic Doctor can clear up this potential link and develop strategies for Wellness.
- Exercise: Strengthening the abdominal and trunk muscles and the core of your body is one of the first steps. Poor posture is common for those who lead a sedentary lifestyle and this places a tremendous strain on the lower back and discs. By training abdominal muscles to encourage a proper upright posture, back pain can be reduced a significant degree. Be sure and have a proper assessment and work with a skilled personal trainer and health professional to ensure the program is right for you.
- Others : Chiropractic, Massage, Yoga, Music Therapy, Breathing Techniques
References: Division of Safety, Office of Research Services, National Institutes of Health- Maintain a healthy back WebMD Health-Low back pain WorkSafe BC( the Workers’ Compensation Board of BC) Making a difference, one human being at a time
Wellness Book: Healing Back Pain : The Mind Body Connection