In my previous article I wrote about how common back pain is and reviewed and criticized popular treatments. A lot of time and massive amounts of money are wasted because of a lack of reliable knowledge about back pain and which treatments really work. The main points in the previous article were: mainstream biomedical treatments of pain are focused on symptoms, not causes or prevention; common treatments like medication and surgery can sometimes make the problem worse, have negative side-effects and do not address the root causes; studies show that movement, which physicians usual recommend you avoid, is actually beneficial to healing and quickens recuperation. Most physicians misdiagnose back pain, and typically attribute it to a herniated or degenerated discs, or local muscle strain. Except in the case of acute trauma, like a pulled muscle, the real cause usually goes unrecognized, because it’s usually not disc-related. Herniated discs are very common and many people who have them don’t have back pain, so it could not be the real cause of pain. For many, back pain may naturally resolve itself with time and daily movement; however, it usual flares up again or reminds a nagging ach. In this article I’ll discuss the most effective ways to prevent and treat back pain.
What is the best treatment approach? That depends on what the cause of your pain is. First it’s important to understand that every body is different. The same treatment that works for one person may not work for another, even if the pain and location are the same. That’s one reason why some people find relief using one kind of treatment and others do not. One size does not fit all, and each case should be looked at individually.
For acute pain you should have a qualified physician or health practitioner evaluate you. For most people MRI’s and X-ray are costly and really not necessary. If you are not in danger, bodywork and manual manipulation from someone who specializes in back pain is an excellent place to start. There are many times of bodywork, but its best to find someone who specializes in back pain. Poor posture and weak core muscles, a complex group of muscles located in lower back, abdomen, hip and pelvis, create the ideal conditions for back pain and injury.
Yoga is one of the most researched and successful methods for prevention and treatment of back pain. It is proven to be more effective than medication-based treatments. Yoga exercises, called asanas, provide variations on stretching, lengthening, strengthening, balancing and relaxation. It works using contraction and relaxation of muscles and organs. Yoga is very effective because it addresses both the local area in pain and the whole body structure, not just the back, which is key for long-term prevention. It also has many other unintended benefits. In all cases it is good to get an evaluation of your posture. Alexander Technique is a very effective educational approach that helps you correct your posture and learn how to use your body in ways that doesn’t stress your back so you can move more freely. The technique helps you “unlearn” common habits that are harmful to the body. Pilates is another excellent method to strengthen the whole body especially the core muscles. Yoga classes are becoming more and more popular, but if you have back pain it’s better to get a tailored plan to your specific problem from a trained Yoga Therapist.
Research shows that acupuncture can bring moderate to complete back pain relief if the pain is not due to gross structural imbalances. It can also be used as part of a comprehensive treatment plan. It’s my experience that treatments will be more effective when combined with multiple modalities for optimum results. For any long-term prevention and health it’s important to develop your own personalized exercise program.
I have found the best approaches to treating back pain are bodywork, yoga, and targeted exercise (swimming is one of the best for over all body strengthening). In cases that are particularly difficult and chronic with no obvious structural causes or trauma, a special diet will usually be the key. Diet is often and under concerned cause of back pain. You may also need to make life-style changes like standing more and sitting less. Excess weight or obesity increases the load on the spine, leading to bad posture, spinal disc degeneration and systemic chronic inflammation
Besides posture and structural imbalances, the principle cause of back pain is physiologically and chemical changes which produces ph imbalances. Sugar, for example increases ph and causes inflammation. There are certain foods that may not be compatible with your body or immune system, which can cause an immune reaction like inflammation, and eventually pain. This is often the root cause of chronic back pain, which can eventually result in crippling diseases like rheumatoid arthritis. Toxins (substances not eliminated from the body) and metabolites can build up in fat and muscle tissue and also cause pain and/or fatigue. When these substances are eliminated from the body, the symptoms often disappear quickly. Many cases of chronic back pain, considered only manageable by biomedicine using pharmaceuticals, can be cured using key structural interviews. In all cases, strengthening through specific exercises, lengthening and structural balance will need to come into play in order to prevent future occurrences of back pain as well as a healthy diet.
Fun actives like dancing that get your hips moving can also be effective for LBP, prevention and overall health, and its fun. Finding save, effective, natural ways of treating the back is easier than you may think. As Benjamin Franklin wrote: “once of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. The simplest thing to remember when it comes to creating good posture and protecting your back is to raise your chest slightly while tucking your chin in slightly and relaxing the abdomen. The rest of the body will naturally fall into place creating your best posture and making you look good in the process.
© Keyvan Golestaneh
Keyvan Golestaneh M.A., L.Ac. is a natural and Chinese medical practitioner, herbalist, bodyworker, psychotherapist and writer with 30 years experience in Yoga, meditation and Qi Gong, and a degree in Anthropology. He is the director of the Conscious Health Institute. www.NewWorldMedicine.com & www.ConsciousHealthInstitute.org