Natural Guide to Healthy Living icon


Back Pain

Bookmark this Site
Tell a Friend
Subscribe to Newsletter
Contact Dr. Comas

Back pain is one of the most common physical complaints
and almost every one suffers from it at some time during their lives.
             
             





Introduction
Causes
Prevention
Treatment
Stress Reduction
Acupuncture
Therapeutic Massage
Nutrition
Nutritional Supplements




Introduction:

The back (or spinal column) is made of 24 moveable bones called vertebrae.
Between each vertebra is a pad called a disc. These discs function like shock absorbers for the spine.
The vertebrae and discs are supported by ligaments and muscles that keep the back properly aligned.
When any of these parts become diseased, strained or injured back pain can occur.


Causes:


The most common cause of back pain is an injury or a strain to the spine or one of the spine's supporting structures
(ligaments and muscles).
  • Lower back pain that occurs at, or above, the level of the waist on one or both sides may be a sign of kidney infection('Urinary Tract and Kidney Infections') or kidney stones.
  • Over-exertion - often leads to pain, muscle soreness, tightness and spasms that can spread out over timeas healthy areas of the back try to compensate, for the area that has been strained. 
  • Trauma - Some activities and accidents can actually cause a physical injury to the vertebrae, discs, ligaments ormuscles in the back.
  • Inflammatory conditions such as Ankylosing Spondylitis
  • Wear and Tear - Osteoarthritis can affect the joints between the vertebrae in the spine and this degenerative processcan cause pain. 
  • A ruptured or 'slipped' disc - When part of the spongy core of a disc between two vertebrae pops through the tough outer coating of the disc, it can put pressure on the nerves that run up and down the spinal column. This pressure can cause pain in the back as well as down one or both legs (sciatica). 
  • Muscular tension - Stress can cause muscles to become tense or 'tight'.Chronic tension in muscles can lead to pain, muscle spasms and reduced range of motion.
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Poor posture -This accounts for the majority of backaches. Improper posture places excess stress on the spinal column.Weakness of the abdominal muscles also contributes to back pain and strain because the back muscles are forced to try to compensate for the lack of support in the abdomen. 

Prevention:

  • Avoid short intense bursts of activity or excessively long periods of activity that stress the muscles and supporting structures in your back. 
  • Protect your back by remembering to practice safe lifting techniques:
  1. bend your knees and lift with your legs
  2. don't bend at the waist to lift a heavy object
  3. "hug" the load you are lifting as close to your body as possible
  4.  avoid twisting your back while you lift Your feet, knees and body should point in the same direction when you are lifting
  5.  don't lift heavy objects up over the level of your shoulders
  • Check your posture - If you suspect that your back pain might be due to poor posture,arrange to see an appropriate health care professional who can assess your posture and suggest some ways to:
  1. improve your posture 
  2. exercise in order to strengthen the muscles that will keep your posture corrected. 
  • Change your back position frequently to prevent stiffness and tension. Have a qualified person from your occupational Health and Safety Dept. to assess your work area to ensure that your working conditions are as 'back friendly ' as possible.
  • Work some muscle strengthening, stretching and flexibility exercises into your daily routine.


Treatment:

The majority of problems causing back pain can be reversed if the underlying process that creates de problem is understood
and if you are willing to to take the time to heal.

Stress Reduction

The muscles are the most important part of the back in maintaining a healthy spine .
The mind and the muscles are connected by the nervous system, this is how stress can directly harm your back

Acupuncture
 
Acupuncture can be especially helpful in dealing with musculoskeletal problems, such as neck and back pain,
arthritic symptoms, bursitis, and joint pain.
Many pain clinics now use acupuncture routinely, which can sometimes be helpful in dealing with persistent back pain.
In the 1980s, researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, found that acupuncture restored blood flow,
relaxed muscle spasms, and strengthened weak muscles.
In other US studies, patients receiving acupuncture for back and neck pain improved more than control groups.
Although many scientists are skeptical abut the benefits of acupuncture, the specialty has gained an impressive following.
An estimated 15 millions Americans have tried it with varying degrees of success for chronic pain, fatigue, nausea, arthritis,
digestive problems and a range of other ailments.
Many patients with chronic low back pain find that acupuncture will help not only break the pain cycle, but allow them to
reduce pain medications and participate more vigorously in physical therapy.
Practitioners of acupuncture use needles, moxibustion, or cupping to stimulate acupoints on channels that flow down
the back and legs to relieve pain and restore the circulation of qi ("life energy").
In Chinese medical theory, the meridians represent paths of energy flow, but Western science has discovered that
the nodes are physiologically located at junctures of the autonomic nervous system. Stimulation of the nodes thus affects
the nervous system and can cause effects at some distance from the actual point of stimulation.
Pain, or any physical dysfunction, is considered in Traditional Chinese Medicine to be due to stuck, or stagnant Qi.
The needles are extremely fine and nothing is injected through them.
The sterile, disposable filaments act as conducting rods when inserted into the acupoints where Qi is stagnating.
The metal stimulates a current, similar to an electrical current, and galvanizes the stuck energy to flow,
thus restoring balance and harmony to the entire system.

Some researchers say that acupuncture works in pain relief by blocking the electric currents in the pain pathways as
they ascend through the spinal cord to the brain. In experiments with rabbits, rodents, cats, and humans,
investigators have shown that acupuncture stimulates the nervous system to release endorphins and other chemicals that
relieve pain.
Endorphins, discovered in the mid-1970s, are chemically similar to morphine. This may be part of the story, but there is unquestionably an "energy" system which enlivens us, and which has not yet been totally dissected by modern science.
A qualified acupuncture practitioner is trained to assess where your Qi is stuck, and to stimulate the appropriate points
and restore the healing flow. Although many patients will experience immediate relief from low back pain, or other complaints,
with the first session, it is best to commit initially to 6 or 8 sessions within a short period of time before assessing whether or not
it is working for you.


Therapeutic Massage

Massage can help relax tense muscles and relieve aches and pains.
By using firm stroking movements up either side of the spine, fanning across the shoulders; circular thumb movements over
the small muscles on either side of the spine massage ease discomfort.

Nutrition:

Certain foods and nutrients can modulate the complex cellular metabolism that sustains chronic inflammation.
They will not relieve pain quickly in the way that conventional medications do but generally have to be used over a period
of weeks and months before they take effect. But they will affect the underlying physiological mechanisms of inflammation
and degeneration, which the NSAIDs do not.

Red meat can aggravate or cause chronic back pain. Uric acid contained in red meat can cause joint inflammation.
Furthermore, the body uses the arachidonic acid in animal fat to manufacture series-2 Prostaglandins, hormone-like
substances which worsen inflammation.
Vegetables such as potatoes, soy beans and other legumes, and cold-water fish should replace animal meat as the main
source of protein.

Nuts and seeds are another excellent source of protein, and provide other significant health benefits.
Nut and seed oils, as well as fish oil, contain essential fatty acids which the body converts to series-1 or series
3 Prostaglandins. These Prostaglandins derived from vegetable sources act as anti-inflammatory agents.
Almonds, walnuts and peanuts are particularly beneficial, due to their high magnesium content.
Magnesium is not only a constituent of bone and cartilage, but also maintains muscle tone.
Chronic back pain is often a symptom of poor abdominal muscle tone.

The diet should include a wide variety of raw vegetables and fruits, and wholegrain cereals to provide the nutrients
needed for the maintenance of bones, nerves and muscles, all of which contribute to a strong and supple back.
Eat oatmeal, porridge or a Swiss muesli made with soaked oats every morning. These foods are excellent sources of silica,
which is particularly important for building strong bones, and B vitamins, which support muscle and nerve health.

Nutritional Supplements

Calcium and magnesium are vital for the muscles and bones, and help alleviate muscle spasms if they exist.
Silica is also highly recommended to improve bone structure.
Bioflavonoids and vitamins C and E are essential for maintaining connective tissue, and are useful for alleviating disk injuries. Vitamin C also helps if calcium absorption is poor due to inadequate stomach acid.
Evening primrose oil is an excellent, mild anti-inflammatory and is useful whether the source of the pain is sciatica or
muscle spasms.

Vitamin C:
This is an essential antioxidant, which can support healing of musculoskeletal injuries and relieve chronic pain.

Bioflavonoids such as quercetin and catechin:
Used with vitamin C. They have an antioxidant effect and also diminish capillary permeability, which can
directly reduce joint inflammation and swelling.

Vitamin E:
This has both an anti-inflammatory and an immune regulating effect.

Zinc, copper, and manganese:
These are cofactors for the activity of superoxide dismutase (SOD), the body's premier naturally produced
anti-inflammatory enzyme. SOD acts as a relatively weak anti-inflammatory. Augmenting the body's own SOD with
manganese, zinc, and copper, provides a stronger antioxidant effect.

Zinc and manganese also function directly as antioxidants.

Carotenoids:
These make up an important family of antioxidants from which the body can also synthesize vitamin A.
Vitamin A is an important immune-enhancing nutrient. It is also essential for tissue repair.

Vitamin A:
This vitamin assists with cellular repair and regeneration.

Essential fatty acids, including EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), GLA (gamma-linolenic acid), and linolenic acid:
These have been shown to help in treating arthritis, and particularly rheumatoid arthritis.
These oils work together through different pathways to reduce inflammatory Prostaglandins.
Linolenic acid is found in flaxseed oil and in cold-water fish such as tuna, salmon, herring, trout, mackerel, sardines,
and cod liver. GLA is found in vegetable sources, including primrose oil, borage oil, and black currant seed oil.

Borage oil is a good source of GLA, or gamma-linolenic acid. It has been shown to improve symptoms of
rheumatoid arthritis as well as other types of musculoskeletal pain.

Fish oil: 
This is a source of EPA, or eicosapentaenoic acid, an omega-3 oil, which has similar effects to those of GLA.

Flaxseed oil in the same amounts provides a vegetarian alternative.

Other nutrients are able to relieve pain and slow degenerative processes through different means.

Vitamin B6: 
This vitamin has been shown to reduce neurological pain and may help with pain caused by pinched nerves,
such as carpal tunnel syndrome. It may also help with arthritic symptoms.

Warning: Higher doses of vitamin B6 may cause toxic neurological side effects, especially when it is taken alone
without complementary B vitamins and magnesium.

Bromelain:
Bromelain is an anti-inflammatory enzyme derived from the pineapple plant.
It has been shown to reduce joint swelling and impairment of mobility.

Glucosamine Sulfate:
This is naturally present in joint cartilage and has been proposed as a therapy for arthritis and possibly disk problems.

Please be advised: This information is provided for personal interest. 
As every individual case is different, it is essential that a certified health professional be consulted before initiating any
treatment regime.
Should you wish to discuss the specifics of your case you can contact Dr. Comas (416) 515-8493
or e-mail: Dr-Comas@NaturalMedicineSolutions.com


To discuss your situation in more detail:
Contact Dr. Comas
tel: (416) 515-8493
e-mail: Dr-Comas@NaturalMedicineSolutions.com

previous article
Osteoarthritis
left arrow
top of page
up arrow

down arrow
return to list of
articles

right arrow   next article
Menopause