In general, 1 in 10 people experiences lower back pain. All over the world, pain in the back is the primary cause of job disabilities as well.
This is a massive problem in the US. According to statistics, 8 in 10 people in the US suffer from back pain. Interestingly, this is also the number one cause of pain killer addictions.
Many people suffer from low back pain for several years due to spending too much time in a sitting position. Fortunately, pain in the back can successfully be cured with a combination of limiting the time you spend sitting and exercises that are meant to correct your bodily posture.
However, the first treatment for back pain that doctors prescribe is the use of opioid drugs instead of recommending some proper exercises. Today in the United States, these medications are the number one cause of fatal drug overdose. They have even suppressed cocaine and heroin as the primary causes of fatal overdose.
According to studies, if you suffer from pain in the back and experience anxiety and depression due to this health condition, you have even greater chances of addiction and abuse of opioid drugs.
The chances of drug abuse are raised by the combination of pain in the back and depression.
In one recent study, more than 50 patients with lower back problems and symptoms of anxiety and depression participated. The study lasted for six months. In those six months, the participants were treated for the pain either with oxycodone, morphine or a placebo.
The participants who showed many symptoms of depression and anxiety experienced a lot of side effects from the treatments. These people were also more likely to abuse drugs and experienced less pain relief from them.
In comparison to the participants who showed low levels of anxiety and depression, these participants showed:
• Nearly 80 per cent more abuse to opioids
• More than 50 per cent less improvement to their back problems
According to the scientists who performed this study, it is evident that symptoms of anxiety and depression must be determined before prescribing opioid drugs as a treatment for back pain. If these painkillers are prescribed to these patients, the risks of abuse and no effects of the drugs are far more significant.
Common causes for pain in the back
You can easily avoid a back pain episode if you determine the actual cause behind the problem. However, many people who suffer from pain in the back rarely identify the triggers and often ignore them. According to recent studies, around two-thirds of the people with back pain identified a specific incident as the trigger of back pain. Usually, these incidents involved lifting heavy loads.
On the contrary, back pain can actually be caused several days or weeks before the discomfort, and the pain appears. The triggers such as fatigue, alcohol consumption, being distracted while doing a physical task, sex, etc., are also rarely the cause behind the sciatica nerve and back pain.
Some other common causes for chronic back pain are sports injuries and accidents. The risks of suffering from back pain also increase due to stress, poor body posture, spending extended time in a sedentary position, lack of physical activity, obesity and other similar factors.
When you know all these factors, you should avoid the recurrence of your lower back pain. However, first, you have to determine the cause behind your back pain to successfully treat it.
What you are supposed to do when pain in the back occurs
According to research, 70 to 80 per cent of back pain cases will resolve in 2-4 weeks without any treatment or painkillers. However, you can use some tricks to speed up the healing process.
If the pain in the back appears suddenly, you should try to relax the back as well as your mind. Helpful treatments can also be going to the chiropractic office, visiting an acupuncture specialist or simply applying ice on the painful spot.
Instead of taking some over the counter painkillers or going to the doctor for prescription drugs, you can treat the pain with some anti-inflammatory herbs, such as ginger, curcumin, Boswellia and many more. You can research further which are the best anti-inflammatory herbs for back pain.
Unfortunately, many people don’t consider these natural treatments with herbs. Most people also fail to observe their emotions when it comes to back pain. For instance, anxiety and depression are two factors that can slow down and reduce your body’s innate capacity to heal itself. Therefore, when pain in the back occurs, think about whether the pain is caused by stress or other emotional problems.
In fact, your thoughts, emotions, and brain play a significant role in back pain. The pain that lasts for more than several minutes at a neuronal level remains remembered in the central nervous system.
The memories of this pain can become so pronounced that the pain may remain even after the injury is healed. It can also reoccur when it is not supposed to, like from a gentle touch. In these cases, you have to retrain your brain by using techniques that involve both the mind and the body. An example of these mind-body techniques is the EFT or emotional freedom technique.
Treating sciatica nerve pain
Pain caused by the sciatic nerve can also be a severe problem. The condition called sciatica, accompanied by pain, is caused by pinching the sciatic nerve in the lower part of the back. Usually, the pain starts from the buttocks and continues down the thighs.
The pain caused by sciatica can be reduced with stretching exercises. The sciatic nerve goes through the muscle found deep in the glutes, called the piriformis. If this muscle gets tight, it can affect the sciatic nerve and cause numbness, tingling and pain in the legs. Sometimes stretching the piriformis is enough to reduce the pain. You should try the following four exercises to ease the pain. There are also videos available on the internet, which show how these exercises are performed precisely.
• Seated hip stretch
• Self trigger point therapy with a foam roller or a tennis ball
• Piriformis stretch
• Pigeon pose
Other possible treatments of sciatic nerve pain
There is also some other possible treatment for sciatic nerve pain. Here are some of the most effective:
• Chiropractic care
According to a study, more than 50 per cent of the patients who suffered from sciatica experienced relief of pain without surgery and other treatment by receiving chiropractic care 3 times a week for a month.
According to research, 17 out of 30 patients who suffered from sciatic nerve pain had complete pain relief after acupuncture treatments. However, several treatments are needed before some improvement appears.
According to studies, people who suffered from chronic pain in the back and practised Iyengar yoga for 4 months could reduce their disabilities by nearly 80 per cent and their pain by more than 60 per cent. However, the actual effects of yoga in treating sciatic nerve pain are not confirmed with scientific evidence. But gentle forms of yoga are recommended as beneficial.
According to a recent study in Spain, older women who suffer from pain in the back can reduce the risks of falling, losing balance and pain by incorporating Pilates in their usual physiotherapy treatments. The study involved 100 women. They all received stretching and massage for 20 minutes and nerve stimulation for 40 minutes two times a week. 50 of the women practised Pilates for 1 hour two times a week. After a month and a half, significant improvements were noticed among the women who practised Pilates for an hour 2 times a week.
• Trigger point massages
Trigger point massage is a therapy where the professional applies firm pressure on particular points of the glutes, piriformis and muscles on the lower back. This treatment is effective in relieving the impingement and pressure on the sciatic nerve.
• Topical preparation
Beneficial ingredients in the treatment of sciatic nerve and back pain can be anti-inflammatory salves and oils. For instance, you can use creams that contain cayenne peppers or oils that have St. John’s wort. These creams and oils should be applied to the painful spots 2 or 3 times daily.
The long term solution to back pain – Avoiding sitting for a long time
You can successfully avoid pain in different body parts if you sit with a proper body posture. This can reduce the chances of experiencing pain in the shoulders, neck and back. However, the best solution is to avoid sitting in general. Sometimes people cannot eliminate back pain even when they try using an inversion table, chiropractic treatments, massages, stretching exercises, grounding, laser treatments and strengthening exercises. Sometimes it can be helpful to try to stand as much as you can. People have noticed improvements with this simple method.
In the beginning, stand for an hour may cause severe pain in the back. However, when you reduce your sitting of 12 to 14 hours to an hour or less, your back pain will start to decrease. People who spend half an hour a day sitting have been relieved of their back pain problem.
The best way to stand is to try to design a cushioned grounding for yourself. On the other side, if your job involves sitting on your computers for hours, you should invest your money and make yourself a stand up desk. Stand up desks and cushioned grounding pads are becoming more and more popular. Several companies provide their employees with these things.
There is a lot of evidence that the human body was designed for continuous movements. This does not mean that the body is intended to endure consistent and strenuous activities, but gentle exercises such as standing. Studies have provided proof that sitting for an hour continuously is terrible. Sitting should be something that comes in between your movement and not vice versa.
Other ways to prevent pain in the back
It is far easier to prevent than to treat back pain. There are many ways to treat this problem, besides the ones mentioned above in this article. Here is a list with what you can do to prevent sciatic nerve and back pain.
With regular physical activity and exercise, you will be able to improve the strength of the muscle of your spine. To reduce the time spend on exercising, try high-intensity training routines. You will have to do this type of training session once or two times a week. You should always incorporate exercises that challenge your body with activities that promote the muscles’ flexibility, balance, and strength.
With Yoga you can exercise your core muscles and increase flexibility. Research has shown that yoga is effective in reducing back pain. You can research further for the best yoga poses that can be helpful for the treatment of chronic or acute lower back pain or sciatic nerve pain.
• Proper body posture
If you spend many hours sitting, try to pay more attention to your body posture when you are sitting.
When you are standing, you should keep the bodyweight evenly spread on both of your feet. You should also prevent putting too much stress on the back muscles by not slouching when you stand or sit. You should always have proper support of your back to avoid bending in an awkward position. The most stress on your back is applied when you carry or lift something, so try to protect your back when doing some of these types of physical activities.
Foundation training exercises are also a suitable type of exercise because they gradually put your body away from harmful movement patterns. The focus is to strengthen the core muscles, which leads to stabilisation of the pelvis, spine, discs and vertebrae.
• Vitamin K2 and D
You should also improve your intake of vitamin K2 and D. These vitamins prevent the softening of the bones, which often leads to pain in the lower part of the back.
Grounding or earthing reduces the inflammations which exist in the body. It can be an effective way to reduce back pain as well as other types of pain. The immune system can function properly when there is a good supply of electrons in the body. This can be easily achieved by walking barefoot or allowing direct contact of your skin to the earth.
According to scientific experts, the earth’s electrons are the best antioxidants that work as anti-inflammatory agents. Whenever you have the time, try to go outside and stand on sand or wet grass with bare feet. This practice will also strengthen your arches and feet.
• Boost your psychology
No person wants to hear that the health problem and the pain he/she is experiencing have an emotional or psychological origin. However, there is evidence that this could happen. Many experts use mind-body techniques to treat pain in the lower part of the back.
You must drink plenty of water to reduce stiffness, keep your body hydrated and increase the height of the intervertebral disks.
• No smoking
Smoking promotes degeneration of the spinal disks and reduces the flow of blood to the lower part of the spine.
Lack of sleep has been linked to neck and back pain as well as improper sleeping positions. Have a firm mattress, sleep on the side to avoid curving the spine and stretch before you get up.