The Do’s and Don’ts for Back Pain

The Do’s and Don’ts for Back Pain

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Everywhere I look it seems that people, young and old, are having back problems. My dad is a great example because in his early twenties his back began killing him after a rigorous day at work. The next day he went to a doctor who insisted his only option was surgery. Ultimately, he had the surgery done shortly after, however, he ended up screwed literally (with two screws in his back) and still in pain! The surgeon had butchered him and left him in more pain than before. He never sought a second opinion most likely because he was so desperate to get rid of the excruciating pain. In desperation to find relief he went through two more surgeries, which helped relieve the pain for the most part but has left him with almost no flexibility due to the 8 more stainless steel screws added in his back. This is one of the reason why you should go for proper surgeries. You should opt for full service spine surgery center in Austin TX that provide the best solution for all your back related problems. You can easily get rid of all your problems as you consult their back specialists.

As it turns out, aching backs are one of America’s most prevalent health problems. Experts agree that about 3 million Americans suffer serious back pain each year. Also, at some point in life, approximately four out of five Americans experience back pain severe enough to require medical intervention -from taking aspirin to major surgery. Also, at any given moment, about ¼ of the nation is dealing with previous back trouble by taking medication, doing exercises, or making lifestyle modifications to recuperate and keep from reinjuring their backs. Back pain also costs $16 billion a year in medical treatment and $80 billion in lost wages and productivity.

Be wary of surgery. In the past, doctors used to treat back pain with rest, long-term medication, and surgery. Now they’ll recommend short term medication, exercise, and some other previously scorned alternative therapy such as yoga or chiropractic. Thankfully surgery option has lost its appeal to doctors recently. My dad’s own first two surgeries were useless. Surgery is just another one of those overperformed operations. My dad found out the hard way that bad x-rays don’t always mean bad backs and that good x-rays don’t always mean good backs. Nowadays, there’s a lot less back surgeries, however, there are still 20 times more back surgeries per capita in the US than in Europe and Canada. So my advice is: If a doctor says you need back surgery, obtain several other opinions before going under the knife. That’s what my dad should have done, but now that’s water under the bridge.

In the meantime, what is there to do for the pain? Right after back injury or an outburst of back pain, doctors recommend pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines. For excessive pain, stronger medications might be needed such as codeine or other narcotics. Recently, doctors prefer to give slow-release morphine, which actually comes from an herbal source-the opium poppy.

Additionally, doctors now agree that the worst thing one can do for back pain is to quit exercising, according to Leon Root, M.D., orthopedic surgeon and author of Oh, My Aching Back. Indeed, doctors believe that 80 to 90 percent of back issues are related to weak muscles. Doctors now recommend exercise instead of rest.

I can verify the success of this recommendation. I perform back exercises faithfully every morning before I take a shower and before and after activities that I know can cause back pain such as cutting the grass, standing in long lines, or lifting heavy objects. I try to swim when possible, ride my bike, and walk a couple of miles every day.

The YMCA has created a standard nationwide back exercise program that incorporates strength training, flexibility exercises, and relaxation. About 80 percent of enrollees report improvement and 31 percent become pain-free (The Green Pharmacy, 1997). You may just want to call up your local Y and inquire about this program. Just remember 1/3 of all back problems can be cured with no medicine at all.

For less severe back pain, there’s a multitude of herbal alternatives that can be helpful.

Red Pepper – contains an amazing pain-relieving chemical called capsaicin that is so potent that a tiny quantity can provide the same amount of active ingredient found in some powerful pharmaceutical topical analgesics. One product, Zostrix, contains only 0.025 percent capsaicin. I don’t know whether red pepper’s efficacy is because of capsaicin’s capability to interfere with pain perception, to its capability to activate the release of the body’s natural pain-relieving endorphins, to its salicylates, or to all three. I simply know that is does the job. To use red pepper, you can buy a cream containing capsaicin or you can buy a red pepper for a few cents. Simply crush a red pepper and apply it directly to the painful area. You can also take any white skin cream and mix it with the red pepper enough so it turns pink. Be sure to wash your hands after though because you don’t want to get it in your eyes.

Willow – and other various forms of natural aspirin such as meadowsweet and wintergreen can be made into pain-relieving teas. They have been used to relieve pain since 500 B.C. (The Green Pharmacy, 1997). These natural sources of aspirin contain compounds known as salicylates. Many salicylate-filled plants also have methyl-salicylate which is an aspirin like compound with a particularly redolent smell. Just simply throw some willow bark or whatever other herbal sources of aspirin in a cup of boiling water and let it steep for about 10 minutes (The Green Pharmacy, 1997).

Peppermint – and other mints contain compounds of menthol and camphor found in many over-the-counter backache medications. They are chemicals that help relax muscle tightness that adds to many backaches. Menthol is a natural constituent of plants in the mint family, particularly peppermint and spearmint. Camphor occurs in spike lavender, hyssop and coriander (The Green Pharmacy, 1997).

Assorted essential oils – can be good to ease painful muscle spasms that contribute to back pain. Several in particular are abundant in thymol and carvacrol which are compounds that help alleviate muscle tension. They are sage, rosemary, thyme, horsebalm, and mountain dittany (The Green Pharmacy, 1997).