Generally, statistics show that one out of 10 people experiences lower back pain, and back pain is the major cause of job disability around the world.
The situations is particularly serious in the US since the results have shown that eight out of ten Americans suffer from back pain, which is considered as the major cause of pain killer addiction.
Unfortunately, opiates are the first medications prescribed for treating back pain. What is even more terrifying is the fact that these medications have nowadays exceeded cocaine and heroin fatal drug overdoses in the US.
“If you have back pain and suffer depression or anxiety you’re at even greater risk for opioid abuse and addiction, according to recent research.”
Depression Combined with Back Pain Raises Risk of Drug Abuse
According to Medical News Today`s report, 55 chronic lower back patients who suffer from depression or anxiety took part in the experiment. The participants were given either oxycodone, morphine, or a placebo during a six month period.
Patients with more severe depression and anxiety experienced greater side effects, got less relief from the medications and were more prone to drug addiction.
Compared to those with low levels of depression or anxiety, these patients experienced:
- 50 percent less improvement of their back pain
- 75 percent more opioid abuse
Therefore, it is essential to first identify the symptoms of depression and then take the prescribed opioid painkillers for back pain because the risks in these cases are much greater, and the beneficial effects are limited.
Common Back Pain Triggers
It is very important to identify the real cause of back pain in order to prevent the next episode. Generally, two-thirds of people who suffer from back pain blamed it to the specific accident on the specific day the pain appeared, such as lifting of a heavy load.
However, lower back pain can be caused days before the first symptoms occur, and the most common causes include: alcohol consumption, fatigue, sex, or being unfocused while performing physical tasks.
Additionally, accidents and sports injuries are considered as the most common triggers of chronic back pain. Also, here are included stress, obesity, poor posture and inactivity (especially chronic pain).
What to Do When Back Pain Strikes
Epoch Time reports than 75 to 80 percent of back pains pass on their own in the course of two to four weeks. This period can be shortened.
Relaxing your mind and back is the first step when you experience sudden pain. Also getting acupuncture and visiting a chiropractor can relive the pain. Simple solutions as getting an ice bag and placing it over the affected area can be very helpful.
Instead of taking prescription analgesics, you should try taking herbs like, curcumin, boswellia, and ginger, which are known for their anti-inflammatory properties.
Even though many people do not take it into consideration, the handling of their emotions can be very important. When you are depressed and anxious the self recovery of the body is inhibited. If you suppress your emotions and stress over longer periods of time you, your body becomes more vulnerable to pain less resistant to injuries.
The sensation of pain and how you handle it derives from your brain in particularly your state of mind and emotions. Any pain at neuronal level that lasts for more than few minutes is memorized in the central nervous system.
The pain can be brought back even if there is no more injury, or be triggered by uncommon movement such as gentle touch. Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) is a mind-body technique used to change the behavior of the brain and can be very convenient is these kinds of cases.
In the video below EFT practitioner Julie Schiffman tells us how EFT works.
Addressing Sciatic Nerve Pain
Sciatic nerve pain is also widely spread and can be very painful. The sciatica occurs when the sciatic nerve is cramped in the lower back. The pain starts and your lower back and then spreading down the thigh.
To lessen the pain it’s recommended for you to do stretching exercises. This nerve goes deep in your glutes muscles. When this muscle tightens too much it infringes the sciatic nerve causing, pain, numbness and tingling in the leg. Usually stretching the muscle is effective in lessening the pain. These 4 exercises can help you with that.
- Piriformis stretch
- Seated hip stretch
- Self-trigger point therapy using tennis ball or foam roller
- Pigeon pose
The following video shows us easy 1 minute daily routine for stretching.
Other Treatment Options for Sciatica
A related article in Prevention Magazine9 lists a number of other treatment alternatives for sciatica, including the following:
Chiropractic care– In one 2010 study,10 60 percent of people with sciatica who received chiropractic care three times a week for four weeks experienced the same degree of relief as those who ended up getting surgery
Acupuncture– Research11 published in the Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine found that 17 out of 30 patients with sciatica experienced complete relief with acupuncture. You may need about a dozen treatment sessions to see improvement
Yoga– As reported in the featured article:12 “A study in the journal Pain reported that people with chronic back pain who practiced Iyengar yoga for 16 weeks saw pain reduced by 64 percent and disability by 77 percent. Although yoga’s effects on sciatica are less clear, gentle forms may be beneficial.”
Pilates– A recent Spanish study13,14 found that older women with back pain can reduce their pain, improve balance, and reduce risk of falling by adding Pilates to their physiotherapy routine. All of the 100 women in the study received 40 minutes of nerve stimulation and 20 minutes of massage and stretching twice a week. Half of them also did one hour of Pilates twice a week. At the end of the six-week long study, those taking Pilates reported greater improvements.
Trigger point massage– Trigger point therapy, where the therapist applies firm pressure to points on your piriformis, lower back muscles, and glutes, can help release the pressure and impingement on the sciatic nerve.
Topical preparations– Anti-inflammatory oils and liniments can also be helpful. Examples include St. John’s wort oil and cayenne pepper cream. Apply to the painful area two to three times a day
Avoiding Sitting May Be Part of the Long-Term Solution for Back Pain
The best prevention is to maintain proper posture while sitting, or avoid sitting as much as possible. At the beginning, standing will cause pain, but after significantly reducing the hours of sitting, you will notice considerable improvement and your back pain will disappear. Therefore, you should limit your sitting time to less than an hour in a day and you will soon be free of low back pain.
For people who have a desk job it is highly recommended that they buy a stand-up desk or cushioned grounding pads.
Here is a video of Dr. Mercola where he shows his stand up desk:
Dr. Mercola claims that the human body cannot function properly when it is too still for too long.
Other Strategies for Preventing Back Pain
Preventing back pain is surely easier than treating it, and there are many alternatives available, in addition to what I’ve already mentioned above. Here are a dozen more tips that can help you lead a pain-free life:
Exercise– Exercise and physical activity will help strengthen the muscles of your spine. Make your exercise time count by including high-intensity sessions. You probably only need this once or twice a week at the most. You’ll also want to include exercises that really challenge your body intensely along with those that promote muscle strength, balance, and flexibility.
Yoga, which is particularly useful for promoting flexibility and core muscles, has also been proven beneficial if you suffer with back pain. The Yoga Journal15 has an online page demonstrating specific poses that may be helpful.
Mind your posture– If you spend many hours every day sitting down, pay careful attention to minding your posture.
When standing, keep your weight spread evenly on your feet, and don’t slouch when standing or sitting to avoid putting stress on your back muscles. Always support your back, and avoid bending over awkwardly. Protect your back while lifting – this activity, along with carrying, puts the most stress on your back.
Foundation Training exercises are also excellent, as they work to gradually pull your body out of the movement patterns that are hurting you. The focus is on strengthening your core, which helps stabilize your spine, vertebrae, discs, and pelvis.
Vitamin D and K2– Optimize your vitamin D and K2 levels to prevent the softening of the bones that can often lead to lower back pain.
Grounding– Grounding yourself to the earth, also known as Earthing, decreases inflammation in your body, which can help quiet down back pain and other types of pain. Your immune system functions optimally when your body has an adequate supply of electrons, which are easily and naturally obtained by barefoot/bare skin contact with the earth.
Research indicates the earth’s electrons are the ultimate antioxidants, acting as powerful anti-inflammatories. Whenever possible, take a moment to venture outside and plant your bare feet on the wet grass or sand. Walking barefoot is also an excellent way to strengthen your feet and arches.
Address psychological factors– Few people want to be told that their pain is psychological or emotional in origin, but there’s quite a bit of evidence that backs this up. Dr. John Sarno,16 for example, used mind-body techniques to treat patients with severe low back pain and has authored a number of books on this topic.
His specialty was those who have already had surgery for low back pain and did not get any relief. This is one tough group of patients, yet he had a greater than 80 percent success rate using techniques like the Emotional Freedom Technique (he has now retired from practice).
K-Laser treatment– Infrared laser therapy treatment helps reduce pain, reduce inflammation, and enhance tissue healing — both in hard and soft tissues, including muscles, ligaments, or even bones. These benefits are the result of enhanced microcirculation, as the treatment stimulates red blood cell flow in the treatment area. Venous and lymphatic return is also enhanced, as is oxygenation of those tissues.
The infrared wavelengths used in the K-Laser allow for targeting specific areas of your body. The K-Laser is unique in that it is the only Class 4 therapy laser that utilizes the appropriate infrared wavelengths that allow for deep penetration into the body to reach areas such as your spine and hip. For more information about this groundbreaking technology, and how it can help heal chronic pain, please listen to my previous interview with Dr. Harrington.
Stay hydrated– Drink plenty of water to enhance the height of your intervertebral disks. Because your body is composed mostly of water, keeping yourself hydrated will also keep you fluid and reduce stiffness.
Avoid smoking– Smoking reduces blood flow to your lower spine and promotes degeneration of your spinal disks.
Pay attention to how — and how long — you sleep– Studies have linked insufficient sleep with increased back and neck problems. Also pay attention to your sleep position. Sleep on your side to reduce curving of your spine, and stretch before getting out of bed. A firm bed is recommended.