Back pain usually feels like an ache, tension or stiffness in your back. A sudden onset back pain can be caused by various triggers, such as a sudden movement or fall, an injury or other medical condition. It’s usually related to disturbance in the functional unit, which consist of bones, discs, tendons, muscles and ligaments.
Around 80% of Australians experience back pain and 10% have significant disability as a result.
It’s important not to restrict your movement too much. Even if your back is very painful, slow and gentle movements are better than lying still in bed.
6 Tips to deal with back pain
- Learn to breath
Lying on the back or sit in a comfortable position. Inhale a deep breath of air through the nose, fill your body with oxygen, and concentrate at transferring peace and relaxation to the place of pain. Exhale and empty all the air slowly through the mouth. Repeat this for 21 times. This breathing exercise practice requires awareness, and can be utilized to practice conscious control over one’s own life.
- Practice visualization
Find a comfortable position. Take some relaxing deep breaths, allowing the abdomen and chest to raise and fall naturally. Now, imagine the pain in color red. As you inhale, imagine the oxygen flowing in as a white light reaching the pain and turning it from red to pink. The whole body looks and feels white, peaceful, comfortable and relaxed. As you exhale, let out all the stress, anger, fear, worry, and anything else that is bothering you. Do this several times throughout the day.
- Change positions every 20 mins, exercises 30 mins
When we are in the same position for too long, we create stagnancy of the pain, and when we want to move, the pain will be even stronger. In contrast, changing position will create movement of the blood. Movements and exercises release natural pain-relief chemicals from the brain. Therefore, it is recommended to change position every 20 mins, for example, from sitting to walking around, from lying to sitting. In addition, gentle exercise, such as walking, cycling, swimming, etc, for a minimum of 30 mins daily.
- Imaginary tail exercise
Position yourself on a firm surface in an all-fours position (On your hands and knees). Imagine you have a tail coming out of your tailbone at the end of your spine, move your imaginary tail up and down gently as you inhale. Relax and exhale. Move your tail to the left when you move your head and gaze to the right as you inhale. Relax and exhale. Repeat on the opposite direction. Repeat the cycle for 21 times. Make sure to do this exercise within your pain-free range of movement.
- Cool down, not warm up
If there is inflammation associated with the pain, use ice pack or use ice pack and heat pack alternatively for 5 minutes each for a total of 20 min each time.
- Natural Anti-inflammatory
Omega-3 EFAs (fish oil)
Pycnogenol (maritime pine bark)
White willow bark
Boswellia serrata resin (Frankincense)
Uncaria tomentosa (cat’s claw)
Capsaicin (chili pepper)
Back pain is a sign of imbalance of your body. DO NOT rely on anti-inflammatory drugs, you should see your practitioner who can provide additional advice and treatment if necessary.
A holistic, personalised approach is essential to address the root cause of your back pain. Some of the contributing factors to back pain include: poor postural control, muscular suboptimal function, toxic burden, food sensitivities, pro-inflammatory diet, blood-sugar handling issue, and stress.
Facts & figures on back pain
- Estimates from the Australian Bureau of Statistics 2007–08 National Health Survey suggest that about 1.8 million Australians (9.2% of the population) have back problems.
- It has been estimated that 70–90% of people suffer from lower back pain in some form at some point in their lives.
Back problems are a common reason for pain among younger and middle-aged adults, but they can start early in life – between ages 8 and 10.
- Pain is the key symptom in most back problems. One study of people with long-term back problems suggested that 14% experience constant or persistent pain, and 86% experience pain one day per week.
- According to the National Hospital Morbidity Database (NHMD), in 2010-11 there were 93,564 hospitalisations with a principal diagnosis of back problems. The common reasons for hospitalisations were:low back pain (27.7% of hospitalisations for back problems), narrowing of the spinal canal (spinal stenosis) (14.1%) pain including tingling, numbness and weakness in the legs that starts from the lower back (sciatica) (13.8%).
Do not put up with back pain, take action to address the root cause and live a healthy life!
JC. Maroon, JW. Bost, and A. Maroon. Natural anti-inflammatory agents for pain relief. Surg Neurol Int. 2010; 1: 80.
Harvard Health Publication. Foods that fight inflammation, retrieved at http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/foods-that-fight-inflammation
HealthDirect. Back Pain. Retrieved at https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/back-pain