How to Treat and Prevent Back Pain

· July 30, 2014
A sedentary lifestyle, overweight, or the lack of physical activity are only some of the factors that can lead to back pain.

One of the most frequent conditions in “modernity” is without a doubt, back pain. There are several factors that can unleash back pain, but one thing is for sure; with proper prevention and awareness, you can drastically reduce the impact it has on your health. Let’s learn a little bit more about this “popular” problem, along with how to treat it.

Causes of back pain

Anyone – tall people, short people, at any time in their life – can suffer from back pain. However, certain “risk factors” have been determined to accentuate the problem. They are:

  • Age: from the 30’s or 40’s on, you could suffer more than when you were younger, which is due to the accumulated effect of poor posture and improper care of the lumbar or cervical areas of the spine.
  • Sedentary lifestyle: It has been proven that those that are less physically active have a greater chance of suffering from back pain. Back2
  • Overweight: A diet high in fats and calories will not only cause weight gain, but will force the back to support more weight and to work harder, thus weakening the back.
  • Heredity: In cases of arthritis, muscular inflammation, along with other aches and diseases strongly influenced by genetics.
  • Other illnesses: For example, suffering from cancer can also be related to suffering from terrible back pain.
  • Work: Due to the job you currently have, or have had, the back can grow weak or become damaged.  Some of the most common work conditions are: lifting lots of weight, pushing things, sitting all day in an uncomfortable chair, or standing all day.
  • Tobacco: Cigarettes are another factor that cause vulnerability in the back. This is because the vertebrae disks do not receive the nutrients necessary for proper functioning. Smokers also take longer to recover from pain in this area as well.
  • Mechanical problems in the back: Spasms, scoliosis, stenosis, muscular tension, injured disks, herniated disks, fractures, accidents, falls, and sprains can all unleash back pain.
  • Pregnancy: Pregnant women frequently suffer from back pain, since the back has to support the extra weight of the baby.

Preventing back pain

It is important to remember a few prevention techniques or methods so that these factors do not begin to excessively affect the back. The most effective solutions are:

  • Sleeping on your side or face up: The spine must rest along with the mind and the rest of the body during the 8 hours we sleep. This means that during that time, the back should not be supporting our weight with uncomfortable or poor posture. Experts recommend sleeping in a fetal position (on your side with your knees hugged to your chest; head and neck in line with the spine).  Do not sleep face down, as this changes the curvature of the spine and forces the neck to turn towards one of the shoulders.
  • Do crunches: not only for a flashy, strong torso for summer, but also for a more developed and stronger musculature to prevent future back pain.  The most recommendable exercises in this case are those of pilates, swimming, and yoga.  Along with abs, we recommend walking between half an hour to an hour at a quick pace, every day.  Use good athletic shoes, and do 5 minutes of abs a day.
  • Use a nice mattress and pillows: These are vital factors in back health, and they must respect the natural curvature of your back.  When we buy a new pillow, it takes at least 2 weeks to adapt to it.  A flexible and soft mattress will allow for better posture and blood circulation.
  • Eliminate stress: A lot of the physical problems we suffer from are actually due to stress and nerves. This also influences our energy levels.  For example, nearly 70% of people with depression also suffer from muscular pain in the back or neck.Back 3
  • Pay attention to your posture: Workplace environment is the main factor causing lumbar or cervical pain, whether you’re sitting all day in front of the computer or you’re exerting yourself physically by lifting objects.  Simple movements like picking up a folder off a bookshelf, or bending down to pick up a paper on the floor, can damage our backs. For women, be careful when you wear heels, as these truly irritate the spine. The body is pushed forward while walking, and the lumbar disks are subjected to more strain.

Home remedies for back pain

If lumbar or cervical back pain keeps you up at night, or if you’ve ever thrown your back out and can’t move, try any one of these more-than-effective home remedies:

  • Give yourself a rosemary alcohol massage (leave 2 sprigs of rosemary in a glass of alcohol, and let soak for at least 7 days), on the affected area, using circular motions to apply pressure.
  • Make a little pillow stuffed with freshly ground Indian horse chestnut, and leave on the affected area (this is a small pillow made out of a little bit of fabric, water, and string).
  • Boil 1 liter of water with 2 Tbsp. of sage leaves for 10 minutes. Allow to cool, strain, and drink 3 times a day.
  • In a glass container with a lid, place fresh chamomile flowers in olive oil. Let steep in the sun, covered, for 2 weeks. Leave in the fridge and use when you have any pains. To apply the oil mixture, warm the oil just a bit, and rub into the skin of the affected area.
  • In a blender, mix 1  avocado with 1 Tbsp. of eucalyptus seeds and a bit of rum. Blend to a thick paste, and apply to the back with circular, gentle massages.Back 4
Images courtesy of Wonderlane, Justin Baeder, David B Gleason, Johanna Kollmann