Back pain, and especially lower back pain is a common chronic issue in our modern industrialized society.
More than 80% of the western population will experience back pain in their life time. 50% of them will have more than one episode within a year.
This is today a major health problem globally and its functional limitations and consequent disability create a heavy economic burden on individuals and society.
Most use over the counter pain medication to sooth their suffering, what not only gives a temporary relieve but as well possible negative implications of long-term use of these drugs.
Patients are often dissatisfied with conventional medical approaches and turn to complementary and alternative medicines to manage their symptoms. Acupuncture is one of the most popular options among them.
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The most common causes of lower back pain are strain and problems with back structures. Strain muscles commonly occurs with incorrect lifting of heavy objects and sudden awkward movements. Strain can also result from over-activity that can result from over work or sport activities.
Structural problems can occur when disks, tissues that cushion the space between each vertebra, bulge, herniate, or rupture. When this happens nerves can get compressed and cause sciatica or irritation of the sciatic nerve felt in your leg by pain, tingling or numbness.
Another potential cause of back pain is Spinal osteoarthritis, caused by damage and deterioration in the cartilage of joints in your lower back. Over time, this condition can lead to narrowing of the spinal column, or spinal stenosis.
Loss of bone density and thinning of the bone, called osteoporosis, can lead to small fractures in your vertebrae. These fractures can cause serious pain and are referred to as compression fractures.
There are many other potential causes of back pain, but most of these are rare. Among them displacement of one vertebral body onto another, loss of nerve function in the lower spinal cord, fungal or bacterial infection in the spine, cancer or nonmalignant tumor in the spine as well as kidney infection or kidney stones.
How acupuncture can help
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Acupuncture stimulates the part of the nervous system which may trigger the release of chemicals into muscles, spinal cord and brain. These chemicals stimulate the relieve of pain and promote homeostasis – the condition of optimal functioning of an organism despite changes in the world outside.
Numerous clinical trials have shown that acupuncture for chronic back pain have shown high rates of symptom improvement and additional evidence is encouraging acupuncture to be more effective than medication for symptom and functional improvement or pain relive.
Survey data also reveals that back pain is one of the most common indications for referral to acupuncturists.
Could what you eat be contributing to your back pain?
Many foods have been shown to reduce or increase inflammation, a known cause for back pain. So when you have back pain, changing your diet may help you avoid it.
A recent study found a link between diet and lower back pain, revealing diets that are more anti-inflammatory tend to be better for back pain.
A mostly plant-based diet is probably your best bet to avoid inflammation, especially green vegetable like Kale, Spinach and broccoli are on the top of the list.
It is recommended to combine them with healthy fats found in nuts and avocado as well as lean protein from beans, chicken, turkey and fish. Coldwater fish is especially recommended for their omega 3 fatty acids.
Herbs and spices, including basil, cinnamon, ginger, rosemary, garlic, curcumin, onions, oregano, and turmeric tend to be especially rich in anti-inflammatory agents.
No, no, no and no.
The big “no no” in any kind of anti-inflammatory diet are processed foods, fast foods, and saturated fats as well any ingredients containing partially hydrogenated oil, often found in preservative-packed products with a long shelf-life, such as chips, crackers, and pastries. All these simply fuel inflammation.
Nightshade vegetables, like tomatoes, eggplant, potatoes and peppers, are known for increasing inflammation in the body. To see if these foods contribute to you inflammation in your body, try to avoid them for about 2 weeks and see if your symptoms disappear.
It is also advised to stay away from alcohol and caffeine.
The Calcium Factor
Another way to control back pain is to make sure you’re getting enough of the right nutrients, such as calcium and vitamin D, that contribute to bone mass. Our bones are the main reservoir of calcium in our body. When we age bone mass decreases and can lead to conditions as osteopenia or osteoporosis, that can weaken the vertebrae in your spine.
But be careful will calcium supplementation, as excess consumption can cause bone fractures and increase risk of plaque forming in your arteries that can lead to risk of heart problems and atherosclerosis. Calcium should come from natural sources, like leafy greens, yogurt, milk, and cheese.
How to prevent back pain
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- Carry less – Heavy briefcases, laptop bags, suitcases, and purses can add unnecessary stress and strain to your neck and spine.
- Strengthen you muscles – Strengthening abdomen and back muscles can also reduce the chances of pain, strain, or damage to your back.
- Improve posture – Poor posture can put unnecessary pressure and strain on your spine. Over time, this can lead to pain and damage.
- Stretching – Stretch regularly to help improve circulation in those muscles and lower the risk of back pain and damage.
- Change Shoes – High-heeled shoes are likely to cause damage to your back if you wear them frequently.
- Fix your Nutrition – Eating an anti-inflammatory diet can help to manage back pain
The chances are high that everyone will meet back pain issues in his life. From my perspective diet and lifestyle is the basis for supporting our body with the right nutrients for overall health and any kind of condition.
Numerous clinical studies reveal that acupuncture is effective in treatment of chronic back and lower back pain and for that can only be highly recommended.
Important to note that this essay is for educational purposes only and does not substitute for profession care by a qualified medical profession or doctor.
- Study of acupuncture for low back pain in recent 20 years: a bibliometric analysis via CiteSpace
- What is back pain ? – Healthline
- Acupuncture for Low Back Pain: An Overview of Systematic Reviews
- Acupuncture for back pain by Mary Anne Dunkin
- Efficacy of acupuncture for chronic low back pain: protocol for randomized controlled trial
- Acupuncture in Patients with chronic low back pain: a randomized controlled trial
- The Mind Body back pain guide
- What you eat may beat back pain – Karen Appold