Back pain is not fun. Perhaps no other physical ailment is more depressing and disabling than pain in the back. It’s one of the most common health problems in the United States but you don’t have to fight it with painkilling drugs. There are safer natural treatment methods available with minimal side effects and no long-term risks.
Pain is a warning. The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Disease estimate between 8 out of 10 American adults will experience a painful back at some point during their life.
The Arthritis Foundation reports that 10 percent will experience pain in a given year.
Back pain can range from a dull, constant ache to a sudden sharp pain. Acute pain in the back comes on suddenly and usually lasts from a few days to a few weeks. It may be caused by things like falling, being tackled in football, or lifting something heavy.
Chronic pain lasts for more than 3 months and is much less common than acute pain.
Types of back pain include chronic back, chronic lower back, lower back, upper back, back arthritis and shoulder arthritis.
Back pain is common for both men and women; each equally affected. It occurs most often between the ages of 30 and 50. It’s due in part to the aging process, but many times is also the result of a sedentary lifestyle.
Each year, Americans spend an estimated $24 billion on treatments for back pains, not including missed time from work or being able to participate in daily activities. We take our healthy backs for granted. But when we’re stoved up, we can’t enjoy playing golf or tennis, taking the children to a theme park or picnicking with the family. Most back-related pain goes away on its own within three days, sometimes longer.
Taking over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like Advil, Motrin and Aleve can help, but come with side effects.
On the other hand, taking natural anti-inflammatory supplements are preferred for those who worry about the long-term health consequences from drug side effects.
Resting can also help. Staying in bed for more than one or two days may also make back pain worse.
If your pain is severe or doesn’t improve after three days, you should call your doctor. If your pain is following an injury you should also seek medical attention
Most pain in the back is attributed to different segments of the spine.
Looking at the spine from top to bottom, there are three main
There’s another section below the lumbar, called the sacrum, which includes the coccyx (tip of the tailbone), but the sacrum is actually a group of specialized vertebrae that connects the spine to the pelvis.
Pain can occur in any of these segments, but lumbar pain (referred to as low back pain) is the most common as it supports the weight of the upper body.
Thoracic pain is the least common as it’s the strongest part of the spine and supports comparatively less weight. It’s referred to as upper back pain.
Pain in the cervical spine is referred to as neck pain or cervical pain or cervical arthritis.
Pain in the sacrum is generally referred to as sacral pain.
Anyone can have back (spinal) pain, but some things that increase your risk are:
Another factor is race. For example, black women are two to three times more likely than white women to have part of the lower spine slip out of place.
Back pain can be caused by a number of things, from sports injuries and other damage to simple wear and tear. If muscles are poorly conditioned or overworked, they are more easily strained.
Someone who works all week at a desk, for example, can strain their back muscles doing heavy yard work on the weekend. Likewise, if the ligaments that help stabilize the low back are weak from inactivity or stiff from overuse, a sudden wrenching movement can cause a ligament sprain.
Aging can also bring lumbar pain. Bones lose strength over time. In someone with osteoporosis, the bones of the lumbar vertebrae can break or compress in a fall or even during some everyday activities.
Arthritis can inflame joints, causing pain and stiffness. And "slipped disks," in which the rubbery cartilage between disks bulge outward, can press against the spinal nerves to cause pain.
There are many causes of pain. Mechanical problems with the back itself can cause pain. Examples are:
Injuries from sprains, fractures, accidents, and falls can result in pain.
Spine pain can also occur with some conditions and diseases, such as:
Other possible causes of back pain are infections, tumors, or stress.
The best things you can do to prevent spine pain are:
To diagnose back-related pain, your doctor will take your medical history and do a physical exam. Your doctor may order other tests, such as:
Medical tests may not show the cause of your pain. Many times, the cause of pain in the back is never known. Spine pain can get better even if you do not know the cause.
Your primary-care physician can evaluate and treat most cases of back pain. If you have atypical pain, there is suspicion of an unusual cause, or you don’t feel better after several weeks of treatment, your doctor may suggest that you see a rheumatologist, an orthopedist, a neurosurgeon, a neurologist or another specialist for advice.
Treatment for back-pain relief depends on what kind of pain you have. Acute pain usually gets better without any treatment, but you may want to take a natural herbal pain relief supplement combining boswellia and safflower extracts to safely ease the pain.
Of course, over-the-counter NSAIDs containing acetaminophen. ibuprofen or naproxen can also be used but each has gastrointestinal side effects including bleeding and are at increased risk for strokes and heart attacks. Exercise and surgery are not usually used to treat acute spine pain.
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Disclaimer: Health statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.