At Alberta Back and Neck Rehab & Sports Injuries Clinic, we know back pain is no laughing matter. However, you can often get back to normal with a few lifestyle changes and simple treatments. There are many natural methods for relieving back pain.
Causes of Back Pain
Common back pain is usually the result of a mechanical problem, which means that the spinal joints are out of alignment and too stiff and the muscles are in spasm. This type of problem can cause mild or severe pain. Mechanical problems can be caused by bad posture, such as lying in an awkward position or continually slumping to one side while sitting at work; weight gain during pregnancy (as the baby grows and shifts your centre of gravity at the same time your ligaments are loosening, thereby straining your back); slips and falls; coughing or sneezing fits; stress; old injuries that have weakened the spinal ligaments or spinal muscles; doing one thing for too long of a period when you are not used to it or are out of shape, i.e. the weekend warrior who does nothing all winter then goes out and plays in a tournament all weekend without training for it or the person who starts a new job and stays in the same position all day.
Chronic (long-term) back pain or upper back pain can also be mild to severe and is often caused by one of the following:
- Injury or accident: A fall, car accident, sudden strain or repeated minor injuries can cause a sprain or tear to a ligament or disc that supports the spine. This can cause pain, muscle spasms or even ruptured disks. In many cases pain will go away for months or years before coming back with a vengeance for no apparent reason. "But I didn't do anything" is usually the comment people make.
- Spinal disks allow movement between your back bones, but as they degenerate due to wear and tear, they do their job less effectively. Sometimes the disks even rupture, causing the jelly inside the disk to squirt out put pressure on nerves, causing pain in your arm or leg.
- Weak back or neck muscles: No matter what the original injury was that caused the pain, the muscles will often weaken due to disuse of that area. When this happens, every time you put a mechanical stress on that area, the injured area is irritated because the supporting muscles cannot do their job and take up the load themselves. Therefore the injured tissue keeps on hurting.
- Osteoporosis: As bones get weaker due to calcium loss, they are less able to withstand stresses put on them, and vertebrae can more easily fracture, which leads to severe, acute back pain.
Solutions to Back Pain
While over the counter and prescription medications often provide relief from back pain, in many cases they do not. As well, because they are toxic, they should not be relief on long term for pain relief. It makes more sense to find the cause of the pain and fix the issue instead. Exercise, healthy diet, supplements, and chiropractic treatment can relieve back pain with less danger of side effects and complications.
- Practice good posture: Bad posture puts strain on muscles and ligaments that support the back. If you sit for many hours at a time at a job, sit up straight. Place your shoulders, back, and bottom against the back of the chair. Sit so your feet are comfortably flat on the ground and your knees are slightly higher than your hips.
- Get nutrients: Many vitamins and minerals strengthen muscles, joints, and bones. Lean protein such as lean chicken and egg whites strengthen muscles. Omega-3 fatty acids work as an anti-inflammatory for pained joints. Calcium, vitamin D, and phosphorous all aid in building strong bones.
- Lift with your legs: Don’t bend over to pick up heavy items. Instead, bend your knees and tighten your abs to protect your back. Lift the object without twisting your body and carry it close to your body to avoid straining your back. Always point your toes in the direction you are going to turn so your big hip joints take the turning stress instead of your more delicate spinal joints.
- Develop strong core muscles: Yoga, weight training, and flexibility exercises are all great exercise for general strengthening and fitness.
- Strengthen unused muscles: When people are in pain, they tend to coddle the muscle that hurts them. When muscles are not used, they go into a state of atrophy and other muscle groups have to pick up the slack. Don't lay around too much. Keep moving, within your pain tolerance. As little as 2 days in bed will cause significant muscle and bone loss.
- Come to see us for expert advice: Many times, good diet and regular exercise are not enough to relieve a back or neck pain. First we will determine the cause of your back pain. Then we will help restore your proper spinal alignment, rebuild specific muscle strength to properly support your spine, or help you heal a disc injury, depending on what you need. With proper treatment, injuries can heal, even if they are months or years old; muscle strength can be rebuilt and joints can move into the correct position to relieve pain and function appropriately.
If you suffer from back pain, don’t just settle for surviving. Start living again by calling Albert Back and Neck Rehab & Sports Injury Clinic at 403-234-0040 today!