Chances are that virtually all adults must have experienced back pain, at least once in their lives. This condition is a common reason that causes many persons to be absent at work. In some cases, it has also been found that back pain can lead to disability.
While this condition is not as serious as some other medical ailments like cancer, treatment is, however, important. Back pain can be treated using several methods, including the use of medications such as NSAIDs, physiotherapy, and (rarely) surgery.
What is back pain, exactly?
Back pain is more of a symptom than an ailment. Back pain, as the name suggests, is a painful feeling that primarily affects the back region of the human body. This condition can arise due to several problems that affect the muscles, nerves, organs, ligaments, or vertebrae.
Causes of back pain
Several conditions may contribute to back pain. The following are some of the common contributors to the condition:
Injury to the spine: Injuries to the discs in the back can cause back pain. The risk of disc injuries increases as a person grows older. For instance a herniated disc, which is a rupturing or slipping of a disc, can lead to back pain.
Strains: Back pain may arise due to an overstretching of the muscles and ligaments located in the back region. Under normal circumstances, the pain resulting from strain should not last for more than 3 days.
Other conditions that can lead to back pain are spinal stenosis, sciatica, spondylitis, arthritis, endometriosis, fibromyalgia, and fibroids.
Having said that, the risk of back pain development can also increase due to any of the following fators:
Aging: People older than 40 years are more prone to back pain.
Genetics: People with a family history of back pain are more likely to develop back pain than those who do not.
Obesity or being overweight
Lack of physical activity or a sedentary lifestyle
Involving in strenuous physical activity without stretching
Symptoms of back pain
Basically, back pain is marked by a dull pain around the lower back region that seems not to go away. Following are other common signs and symptoms of back pain:
Pain when lifting or bending
Sharp pains that occur irregularly
Pain while trying to stand upright
Pain that can spread to the leg(s)
Severe back pain may come with the following symptoms:
Inexplicable weight loss
Constant pain, which worsens at night
Weakness in the leg(s)
NOTE: You should see your doctor when you are experiencing any of the above symptoms.
Natural remedies for back pain
The following are some natural treatment methods for back pain and inflammation that can be practiced at home:
- Ginger: Ginger is a common root plant with great medicinal benefits. Studies have shown that the antioxidants present in ginger may help in treating back pain. Although more studies need to be conducted to show how ginger helps in relieving back pain, the analgesic effect of ginger cannot be disputed.
- Cayenne pepper : Hot peppers like cayenne pepper are helpful in treating inflammations and aches in the body. Capsaicin, which is the main ingredient of cayenne pepper, is responsible for the pain-relieving property of the herb. According to a report by the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine, capsaicin can help in relieving pain by reducing the amount of a chemical compound responsible for conveying the pain.
- Turmeric: Turmeric contains curcumin, an antioxidant which is confirmed to have anti-inflammatory properties. The activity of this antioxidant has been linked to helping with inflammatory conditions, including back pain. Although turmeric is beneficial for back pain, it is advised that the spice should only be taken in moderate amounts, and for short periods, as long-term use and over dose can cause digestion problems.
- Devil’s claw: Devil Claw has anti-inflammatory properties that can benefit people suffering from back pain and inflammatory conditions like arthritis, which can also contribute to back pain. The presence of glycosides in this herb is believed to be the source of its analgesic properties. While scientific studies show that the herb can be effective in relieving back pain, it is not recommended to be taken by pregnant women and people suffering from gallstones.
- Ginseng: Ginseng is a Chinese herb with several medicinal properties. Along with several other herbs, ginseng can be used for treating pain, according to the American Pain Foundation.
- John’s Wort: Health problems such as arthritis and sciatica, which increase the risk of developing back pain, can be controlled with St. John’s Wort.
- Valerian root: According to some studies, valerian root possesses compounds that block the activity of pain receptors in the brain. You can consume the herb by preparing it as tea or get the capsules.
- Ice packs: Placing an ice pack on the affected region is a good way of temporarily stopping back pain, especially during the first few days. Doing this several times a day will also help to reduce any swelling. You can use an ice pack wrapped in a cloth, or you can also use a bag of frozen corn.
- Apply heat: After about two days of apply ice packs, you should change to heat. This is in order to promote blood flow in the body as well as to reduce pain. Applying moist heat on the painful area can be done using a heating pad or a wringed towel previously soaked in hot water.
- White willow bark: The bark of the white willow tree is another natural remedy for back pain. This herb has been used for centuries for treating inflammations. According to research, the white willow bark contains salicin, which has similar properties as aspirin, and can help in relieving lumbago. This herb can be gotten as a tincture, capsules or as a tea.
- Burdock root: Burdock root has been proven to have detoxifying effect in the body. The detoxifying property of this herb helps in protecting the body against toxins which may otherwise cause inflammation. Moreover, burdock root has long been used as a natural treatment for health problems such as rheumatism and arthritis.
- Fish oil: Fish oil is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. These polyunsaturated fats are considered healthy and have been shown to help in reducing inflammation.
- Boswellia: Boswellia is an herbal plant used in Ayurvedic medicine. The gum extract of the boswellia tre, also called boswellia serrata, can help in reducing pain and inflammation. Furthermore, according to research reports, boswellia serrata helps in reducing pain by blocking the formation of cells responsible for inflammation.
- Pineapple: Pineapple contains many powerful compounds such as bromelain, which has anti-inflammatory properties. Bromelain can help in reducing the side effects of back pain. To get the best from pineapples, it is recommended that you drink the juice on an empty stomach.
- Egg membrane: Egg membrane is the part of an egg that sits between the shell and the colloidal inner part. Egg membrane contains beneficial compounds like glucosamine and collagen. The membrane has wound-healing and pain-relieving properties that should help persons suffering from back pain.
- Feverfew: In the distant past, feverfew was known to be an effective remedy for aches like stomach and tooth aches. People suffering from back pain can also benefit from using this herb. In addition, the use of feverfew for medicinal purposes has not recorded any adverse side effects, at least for now, making it safe to use. However, pregnant women are advised to stay away from feverfew.
- Thunder God vine: The Thunder God vine is a plant native to Asian countries like China and Japan. The herb is used as a natural remedy for arthritis, and according to a clinical trial at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, can be helpful in reducing the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.
- Avocado and soybean extract: Avocado Soybean Unsaponifiables (ASU) is extracted from the oil of soybean and avocado. This extract can help in reducing some of the contributing factors of back pain such as osteoarthritis. Taking a 30mg dose of ASU each day is a natural way of treating back pain.
- Cinnamon: Like most other herbs and spices on this list, cinnamon has anti-inflammatory properties. This common kitchen spice can be useful in reducing pain. You can benefit from cinnamon by sprinkling it on your food or by drinking it as tea.
- Apple cider vinegar: Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) possesses many medicinal properties that can also benefit back pain patients. The anti-inflammatory effect of ACV comes in handy here. Drinking a glass of warm water mixed with a tablespoon of ACV can help in reducing inflammation.
- Hydrotherapy: Exercising in water can also be tried if you have back pain. The water helps in reducing the pain by reducing your discomfort.
- Physiotherapy: Appropriate exercises to improve posture can be used in the treatment of back pain. Other physiotherapeutic methods that can be employed in treating back pain include massage and chiropractic.
Back pain can be caused by several reasons and should go away after a few days. However, severe cases of back pain can last for weeks or even years. Understanding the underlying reason for the back pain is the first step in curing the condition.
The remedies listed in this article will help in bringing relief to back pain patients. However, you should consult a doctor when the problem persists.