Healing Back Pain Naturally

Learn more about alternative medicine and natural remedies for treating and healing back pain naturally.


| April/May 2002



191-111-02

Spike lavender is a source of camphor, which can be used as an essential oil in massage to help relieve back pain.


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The Natural Health column shares information about healing back pain naturally. 

Both my wife and I share a propensity for back problems. Peggy is a good example of how back problems often run in families. She and her two sisters (like their late mother) have a peculiar kink in the same area of their backs that causes them grief, especially following extended kitchen work at sink height.

Scrooge that I am, I blame my most serious back problem on Christmas. It was December 23, 1991, when Peggy and I went to a nearby Christmas tree farm to select a living tree. Wanting to replant the tree, I dug a big ball of earth with it and managed to heave the whole thing into the wheelbarrow the owner had lent me. I successfully wheeled that 100-pound load 100 yards up the hill to my station wagon, but when I attempted to lift it from the wheelbarrow to the wagon's trunk, something snapped.

Agony ensued. It grew worse as we drove home. Santa's back was ruined. I could not lie, sit or stand comfortably. I slept terribly, sideways on a couch with three pillows under my left side. The only help we could find the following day, Christmas Eve, was a chiropractor. He took a $95 X-ray, declined to do major manipulations and said I should see an orthopedist.

A week later the orthopedist said I should consult a neurosurgeon. Not surprisingly he said I needed surgery. He insisted this was my only option, given my X-rays. So ultimately (two months later), I had surgery, followed by physical therapy. I also used healing herbs and had acupuncture treatments. I think the alternative treatments gave me more relief than the physicians.

Backaches Abound

It seems everywhere I look, people have back problems. That's not surprising, as aching backs are one of America's most prevalent health problems. Estimates vary, but the experts generally agree that somewhere between 2 million and 5 million Americans suffer serious back pain each year.

louie
6/7/2011 5:31:17 PM

I had a back injury as a result of repetitive lifting in a work environment. Three herniated disks, the upper one being the most serious as it is against a nerve root Before being allowed to see a Dr the HR department made me go first to a chiropractor. I got relief after the first visit. Maintained after the second and the last two made it worse. Finally was sent on to a DR. I took a lot of prednisone and had cortisone shots in the back. Time did more then the medication... medication caused other health problems. The exercise was the most helpful treatment but the hardest to start. The shooting pain wasn't just down the leg but around my body... pretty much anyplace from my waist to my knees. I found that cutting caffeine and really pushing water was when I had the first noticeable improvement. Allowing the body to rehydrate the disks was something I learned from a nurse practitioner and it allowed me to really begin the exercise therapy. Others recommended bicycling. I cannot do that still. It causes too much side to side movement on the lower back. The only bicycling I can do is on a recumbent stationary. My greatest luck has been with pilates type exercises for the core and light to moderate weight training. Even after five years I cannot stand at the counter and do dishes with out significant pain. I cannot stand on concrete floors for more then about forty-five minutes without developing a limp. For pain, my best friend is my TENS machine.


t brandt
6/6/2011 10:49:58 PM

The vast majority of backaches are caused by spasm of the psoas muscle, particularly when combined with weakness of the gluteal muscle.Subtle scoliosis and "short leg syndrome" causing imbalance in muscle tension are often overlooked in chronic backache. For acute backache, vigorous exercise, not rest, is the best cure; isometrics for the glutes, bicycling and stretching the groin work very well. Herniated disks DO NOT make your back hurt: you get pain, numbness &/or burning down the leg (sciatica); that can also be caused by spasm of the pyriformis muscle, a condition often overlooked. 99% of medications come from plants-- but "herbs" contain 20,000 other chemicals besides the one that's supposed to work. How do you know what those are doing to you? Let the pharmaceutical company isolate the good one for you. Be careful of morphine in any form: highly addictve; codeine or hydrocodone have low addictive potential- except in those with addictive personalities. Naprpathic treatment (therapeutic massage) is very effective; acupuncture, capsascin, aroma tx, etc are more placebo than "real", but as the author says, "who cares as long as they work." And they do. I've been treating bad backs as a physician for almost 40 yrs and rarely need to send a pt for surgery.


armypt
6/6/2011 2:10:14 PM

I hope that was an "oops" when you called your back surgery a "cervical" (neck) fusion! There are definitely non-surgical, non-pharmaceutical (including herbal pharmaceuticals) options to treating back pain and sciatica, most of the time. Back surgeries are much more likely to be unsuccessful if you are overweight or smoke. Also, if you have the same muscle weakness, extra weight, bad posture, and bad body mechanics (e.g., lifting techniques) AFTER surgery that you had BEFORE surgery, it's likely the surgery won't fix your problem for long! Get yourself educated on what your doctors are telling you, including what the consequences are if you DON'T have surgery, seek a second opinion if you can, and do everything you can in your power to fix yourself... but don't completely discount the value of Western medicine.


bill goodrich
6/6/2011 12:56:33 PM

One must use caution when deciding to forgo surgery. I went the rest route, putting up with fire in my arm and waking up trying to throw my arm back into its socket. Turns out the nerve damage from the pressure of the spine from a herniated disk caused permanent partial loss of muscle strength. The neurogist stated full and permanent loss would have been the end result had I not followed up with surgery. So, remember that unrelenting sharp pains and/or fire burning sensation indicates nerve damage. The brain will permanently shut off the nerve to avoid the pain.






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