Back pain

We're in the last quarter of the year and majority of us feel the aches in our muscles and bones when temperatures drop. Backpains are a nuisance and worse case scenario is when not treated properly it can crush productivity or be an indication of something worse. 

Most people rectify backpains with painkillers, which subdues the pain but does not 'heal' anything. What most don't realize is back pains also serve as warnings to something we should change in our lifestyle or the necessity for medical attention.


Causes of Back Pain

Factors linked with developing back pains are the following:

  1. A stressful job. Physically or mentally.
  2. Pregnancy.
  3. Sedentary lifestyle. 
  4. Age. Older adults are more susceptible than younger adults or children.
  5. Depression. 
  6. Smoking. 
  7. Anxiety. 
  8. Gender. Females tend to experience back pain more than males.
  9. Obesity / overweight. 
  10. Strained muscles, which can happen from:
    • Lifting something improperly or too heavy
    • Results after an abrupt and/or awkward movement
    • Muscle spasm
  11. Structural problems:
    • Ruptured disks – these are the spine’s discs found between the vertebrae, which act as shock absorbers for various pressures put on the neck and back everyday. Over time, the disc wills start to break depending on various risk factors.
    • Bulging disks – Similar to a ruptured disk, a bulging one can result to pressure added on a nerve, which can cause pain on the back and worse, pain travels to the hips, buttocks, legs and feet.
    • Sciatica – This arises when a degenerative spine condition (e.g. Herniated disc, bulging disc, protruding disc, or a bone spur applies pressure on a sciatic nerve.
    • Arthritis – Osteoarthritis patients commonly experience problems in the hips, lower back, knees and hands. It can also develop around the spinal cord narrows.
    • Abnormal curvature of the spine – Pain happens when the spine curves in an unusual way.
    • Osteoperosis – This is when bones, inclusive of those in the spine, become brittle and porous.
  12. Result of some daily activities and poor posture:
    • Bending, pushing, pulling, carrying, lifting something.
    • Standing, sitting, bending, hunched for long periods of time.
    • Twisting
    • Coughing
    • Sneezing
    • Over-stretching
    • Muscle tension
    • Long driving sessions without break (even when not hunched)
  13. Other factors:
    • Cauda Equina Syndrome – Cauda equina is a bundle of spinal nerve roots arising from the lower end of the spinal cord resulting to a dull pain in the lower back and upper buttocks. Sometimes it results to lack of feeling in buttocks, genitalia and thigh. There can be bowel and bladder function disturbances.
    • Cancer of the spine – A tumor on the spine may press against a nerve, resulting in back pain.
    • Infection of the spine – An infection on the spine can result from fever as well as tender warm area on the back.
    • Sleep disorders – People with sleep disorders are more likely to experience back pain.
    • Shingles – An infection in the nerve area caused by a virus called varicella-zoster virus.
    • Bad mattress – If a mattress is too old or does not support specific parts of the body and keep the spine straight, this results to back pain.
    • Other infections – Spinal infections may occur after a surgery or depending on a risk factor. Some spinal infections can come from poor nutrition, immune supression, HIV, cancer, diabetes, etc.

Hopefully the causes listed above will give you a notion on what you might need to improve in your lifestyle, posture, activities or push you to seek medical help if necessary.


Back Pain Remedies

If you currently or regularly experiencing back pains, these remedies may interest you.

  1. Ice First, Heat Later

    This process temporarily blocks pain signals and helps reduce swelling.

    • Lay an ice pack wrapped in towel on the painful area several times a day for 20 minutes.
    • For the first few days, apply ice pack as frequently as necessary.
    • After 48 hours, switch to moist heat to stimulate blood and reduce pain spasms.
    • Dip towel in war water, wring it out, flatten and fold. Lie on your stomach with pillows under your hips and ankles. Place towel across painful area, cover towel with plastic wrap, then place a heating pad atop the plastic. Leave for 20 minutes. Repeat 3 – 4 times a day for several days.
  2. Purchase a new mattress

    Research shows having a firm mattress is the best option. A mattress MUST support the body, especially the spine. Often, those who suffer from constant back pain felt relieved after getting a new one.

  3. Invest in treaddesk and deskcycles

    These are modern machines to aid those whose work and lifestyle requires to sit for long periods of time. It functions as comfortable and convenient exercise machines you can use to ease away from the sedentary lifestyle, which causes back pain.

  4. Invest in chairs with good lumbar support

    These chairs supports the lumbar and sacral region of the spinal colum. These helps to keep good posture to prevents back problems.

  5. Call a massage therapist

    Calling for a therapist to come to your home is a great treatment for back pain. A massage helps release endorphins that help induce relaxation, relieve pain, and reduce levels of stress chemicals, such as cortisol and noradrenaline.

  6. Invest in a massage chair

    Unfortunately, having regular massage sessions can be expensive (depending on your location). Investing in a massage chair is similar to having your own 24/7 therapist. Plus, a massage chair proves to have so many lifestyle and health benefits.

  7. Do low-impact exercise

    Exercises like walking, biking, or water exercise can improve almost al muscle-related body problems. Also, exercise stimulates feel-good endorphins, which reduces pain.

  8. Do yoga

    Yoga helps in alleviating back pain by making people more aware of their body movements.

  9. Minimize sedentary lifestyle

    According to research people who sat for the longest periods of time were likely to develop back pains, heart disease or diabetes. Here are tips to avoid these:

    • Pay attention to consciously sucking in your belly and rotating your pelvis slightly up.
    • Keep your head back, with ears over your shoulders and your shoulder blades pinched.
    • Ease sedentary issues by getting a treaddesk or deskcycle.
  10. On responsible food intake
    • Take sufficient, high quality, animal-based omega-3 fats. Omega-3 fats are precursors to mediators of inflammation.
    • Remove or reduce your intake of grains and sugars, especially fructose. Excessive intake of these elevates insulin and leptin levels in your body, resulting to increase of inflammatory cases.
    • Optimize vitamin D and vitamin K12 levels. These help prevent softening of bones that often leads to back pain.
    • Befriend ginger. This herb has pain relief and stomach-settling properties. Steeping in boiling water to make tea or grating to add it to vegetable juice will work.
    • Cayenne cream – This is a spice made from dried hot peppers. This alleviates pain by depleting our body’s supply of substance P, a chemical component of nerve cells that transmits pain signals to our brain.
    • Curcumin – Found in spice turmeric. Has anti-inflammatory features and shows aid to increase mobility, especially on osteoarthritis patients.
    • Have chamomile tea. Stress causes back pain. After a busy day, relax on your couch with some tea.
    • Have a bath with Epsom salts – Epsom salts reduce swelling. Fill your bathtup and add 2 cups of salt. Soak for 30 minutes.
    • Drink milk – Calcium from milk helps build strong bones and protect spine from osteoperosis.
  11. Always stretch

    Stretch before doing any strenuous physical activity and even when waking up. Stretching limbers tense muscles and strengthens those that need help.

  12. Practice Perfect Posture
    • DO NOT SLOUCH when standing or sitting.
      • Avoid bending over without supporting your back.
      • For those doing weight-lifting, lift using your legs and keep your back straight.
    • Wear comfortable, low-heeled shoes. Women should refrain from wearing heels all the time.
    • Maintain optimal weight.
    • Quit / avoid smoking.
    • Drink lots of water. This enhances the height of the intervertebral disks. Staying hydrated will keep you fluid and reduce stiffness.
  13. Physical therapy or chiropractic treatment

    When backaches persists, a professional can help provide relief from chronically inflammed muscles that home remedies can't fix. Physical therapisists aid in strategically stretch and strengthen the spine while chiropractors manipulate the spine to relieve areas of tension on muscles.

  14. Neuro-Structural Integration Technique (NST) [2]

    Developed by Dr. Nixon-Levy, this is a fast and effective pain relief combined with incrased energy levels and health. It also results to automatic correction within muscular, nervous, visceral and endocrine systems.

  15. Over-The-Counter Pain Relievers 

    Both nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (e.g. Advil). And acetaminophen (e.g. Tylenol) – go through chemical pathways in the body that can produce pain. [1]

  16. Topical Creams

    When applied on skin, these creams cause nerve endings to feel either heat or cold, dulling the pain.

    Important note: Topical creams are only temporary relievers. The pain will come back sooner or worse, it will cause hyperalgesia, or increased sensitivity to pain. Prevention and other natural or home remedies for back pain can help cure back pain issues for the better. This is a tool you can have that will save your money for important regular massages!


In conclusion

Hope this article is able to shed some light into causes of back pains and possible remedies. Remember, if back pain remedies nos. 1 - 13 above aren't working, run to your doctor for checkup.