As America ages, back pain, more specifically chronic back pain has become a national problem. For many people the first stop is the American Medical Association, i.e. a trip to their primary care physician for a checkup. I can understand, if you have health insurance, why that might seem logical. It is not, however the best remedy for pain management. The current treatment for aching backs is not very imaginative. It has more to do with making the symptoms disappear than finding the root cause. I can't blame the doctors, they are working with what they have, and what you tell them. Back pain is the easiest injury to fake, no one can tell but you, if you are in pain. Many people fake the injury for insurance settlement reasons, workers' compensation issues, or just for the pain killers. My former husband, ex-heroin addict, came to learn that the drugs prescribed for chronic back pain were pharmaceutical heroin. He got hooked. Even if you are not a drug addict, beware of the danger of getting addicted to prescription pain medication.
For some people the pain is bad there is no other alternative. For such people I would say manage your chronic back pain with medication as the LAST resort, not the first. The reason why, is because all drugs have a tendency to lose potency as you utilize them. So if you imagine you will only get worse as you get older, you want to start as late as you can with a regime of drugs, and start with as low a dose or the most mild drug available, leaving you something to work up to. But you do not HAVE to imagine the back pain getting worse. With the right life style changes, there is a possibility for some people to have less back pain as they get older instead of more.
The first most dramatic change you may have to make is losing weight. This does not apply if you are slender. If you are at all overweight, though you are putting additional strain on your back which exacerbates the problem. Your doctor may not tell you this, because she's an MD, not a nutritionist. Both lower and upper back pain as well as knee pain may be alleviated by major weight loss. If your weight or your pain is keeping you from an exercise regime, start with something simple and mild like walking, turning off the TV, and adding more fiber to your diet.
Another lifestyle change you may make is limited the amount of time you spend commuting or sitting your car. Is it possible to take the bus or train? Standing up is better for your back than sitting which may cause muscle spasms. Even better, is it possible to ride your bike or walk? I used to live in a city with pleasant weather year round, Honolulu, and I would much enjoy my morning walk. I kept a change of clothes at the office or in my backpack. A yoga practice will build up core strength, which will help preserve your spine. If your back is too injured at present to begin yoga, try a more fluid practice, such as tai chi or qi gong.
Some of my friends swear by the chiropractor as the most effective treatment for extreme lower back pain. If the chiropractor has an X-ray machine, and you feel better after seeing him, it could be a good idea. Beware of the doctor who has not X-rayed you. Many of the harsh manipulations and quick jerks can injure a back worse. The opposite is also true, for a while my former husband saw a chiropractor who was so gentle, he felt she was doing nothing. Some chiropractors include acupressure in their treatments. Acupressure and acupuncture are both very effective pain relief tools.
If your pain radiates down your leg it is sometimes called sciatica. Although it may feel like the injury is in the hip socket, it may be a bulging disc. Therapeutic massage is sometimes effective. It is also important to look at the possible causes for your back pain. Is it a pinched nerve? Early onset arthritis? If it is arthritis, you may well want the AMA to treat you, because there are some drugs that slow the manifestation of rheumatoid arthritis and lupus and other joint related reasons for extreme back pain.
Supplements can be helpful, such as glucosamine and MSM, both of which can be purchased over the counter at health food stores and drug stores. Drinking lots of water, and getting calcium and vitamin D is your diet is important as well. If you are on a diet, to lose weight, it becomes more important than ever to make sure what food you ARE eating meets your nutritional needs. The latest studies show that getting benefits from vitamins in pill form is actually difficult for the body. The human body absorbs nutrients best when presented as food. Get calcium from fortified orange juice, soy milk, goat milk or cow milk.
Get in the habit of reading labels, because definitely not all soy milks are the same. Some have 9 per cent of daily calcium in a serving and some have 30 per cent! Orange juice is easier for some people to digest, except it has a lot of sugar in it, and can be hard on the stomach because it is so acidic. If you live near a goat farm, that is the easiest way to get D vitamin and calcium, store bought goat milk can be pricey because demand is currently relatively low.
Take time every day to meditate. If you think that can't effect your back pain, you are wrong! Much pain occurs in the brain and our thoughts about it, as much as it occurs in the body. Lessening your daily stress will aid in alleviating chronic pain issues. Sit with your back straight and your eyes closed. Focus your attention on the pain. Where do you feel it? What does your body want you to do? Don't be too busy, pay attention! A few minutes, even five, of a regular practice can stretch into ten or half an hour. You will find many benefits as your meditation practice lengthens.