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Last updated August 1, 2018, originally published October 12, 2016
By A. Weinberg, Contributing Columnist
Back pain is one of the worst sensations, because it affects how you
walk, sit, and sometimes even other parts of your body. Often, it will
appear from one day to another, and you wonder how in the world it
showed up. There are a few causes, but apart from general muscle
pain, the most common tend to be a slipped disc or nerve pain.
A slipped disc has to do with your spinal structure going out of whack.
The spinal column is made up of bones and they are cushioned by
discs, which help in preventing stress and shock in daily activities:
walking, twisting, lifting. You may be especially at risk if you perform a
lot of physical labor. Discs have two parts: a gelatinous inner portion
and a tough outer ring. If you are injured or weak, the inner portion of
the disc may protrude through the outer ring. As well as manifesting
itself as reflected in the title of this article (stinging, burning, etc.) it
may also feel like regular pain or numbness on one side of the body, or
pain that worsens after sitting or standing.
A pinched nerve is another likely culprit. When there is compression on
a nerve, you feel this acute, uncomfortable pain. This, in turn, is
commonly caused by diabetes, chemotherapy or injuries.
This is a common problem: 25% of U.S. adults report having some kind
of back pain.
Most that deal with nerve pain say that conventional medicine isn't
effective. Usually a slipped disc requires multiple approaches to healing,
as well. Read on to find out about some natural methods to lessening
back pain and getting yourself back to normal.
1. Take Herbs to Ease Your Back Pain
There are many things out there in nature as well as in your spice
cupboard that will calm your aching back.
Herbalist Dr. Paul Haider recommends a few good ones: Turmeric is
first on the list. It's a dark yellow (or light orange, depending on your
perspective) spice that can be found at your grocery store or local
Wild lettuce, valerian, and cramp bark are also on the list.
St. John's Wort will lower inflammation as well as make you less
stressed, both important elements in the management of pain.
Skullcap strengthens the nervous system. Lobelia will help sooth and
relax you, as well as get rid of tension caused by contracted muscles.
If your back pain is due to a trauma or overexercise, damiana might be
Black cohosh is a good herb to mix, especially with valerian. Talk to
your doctor or herbalist/naturopath about effective options for your
2. Fix Your Nutritional Deficiencies
That burning sensation mau be due to nerve pain (neuropathic pain).
This type of pain can be caused by lack of certain vitamins, according to
Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum.
These usually include vitamin E, D, B12, B6, and B1.
Studies have shown that nerve pain is improved by taking supplements
of high dose B vitamins.
However, it's important to not take an excess of vitamin B6 (over 500
milligrams per day) over an extended period of time.
If your back pain is due to diabetic neuropathy, try taking vitamin D,
which has been shown to decrease diabetic neuropathy pain by 47%
after three months.
Observe and analyze your diet; then ask your doctor or nutritionist
which are the best foods and supplements to integrate into your life.
[Update: Cherries are as effective as some NSAIDs in reducing pain.
Cherries also help your bruises to heal faster.]
3. Stay Active
It makes sense that when you are first hit with a bout of pain, you just
want to lie on the couch in a pile of painkillers and rest. However, you
shouldn't indulge in that for too long.
The American College of Physicians and the American Pain Society
strongly recommend that patients with back pain remain active. To
promote healing, the body needs movement in order to be in its ideal
condition. Otherwise, the muscles can grow stiff and get weak, causing
Discs can also lose nutrients and become dried out and inflexible. The
best activities you can do are ones that strengthen your core, as well as
stretches to gain flexibility and low-impact aerobic exercise. Swimming
and walking are good options. Don't go on a ten-mile hike (or run for
that matter), but do avoid sitting for a long period of time.
4. Lose Weight, Even a Little Bit
While this option won't help the pain immediately in the moment, the
maintenance of weight can help your back in the long run.
Often, slipped discs are due to fat, because the extra weight puts more
pressure on the spine in general.
Directly related to weight loss is sleeping right. In general, less sleep
causes you to munch more and have the sensation of hunger.
A 2008 study from Sleep magazine showed a significant risk of
becoming obese if you don't sleep around 8 hours a night.
Additionally, when you sleep, your body regulates hormones, and an
imbalance can cause weight gain.
For example, when your system produces too much cortisol, it tends to
cause the body to store more abdominal fat. So, make sure that you are
making time to sleep well, and keep exercising and eating right.
5. Try Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Sometimes how you process pain is a big part of it. According to a
2007 review by Dr. R. Chou and researchers from the Oregon Health
and Science University, it could be a good part of treatment.
The scientists assessed various studies about back pain from MEDLINE
and the Cochrane database of systematic review. These included
randomized trials and systematic reviews with 1 or more options for
acute or chronic low back pain and its outcome, including general
health status, work disability, and patient satisfaction.
Cognitive behavioral therapy turned out to be effective for chronic or
sub-acute low back pain.
6. Undergo Physical Therapy
Depending on your case, physical therapy could look different. It comes
in a variety of options.
In a 2010 report, Dr. Andrew J. Schoenfeld from the Texas Tech
University provided some methods that were effective with a slipped
They included: Stretching, ultrasound, and ice and heat pack therapy.
Your particular physical therapist will be able to recommend the best
strategies for you to use.
7. Get Thee to a Chiropractor
Sometimes your back needs crackin'. It isn't for everyone, but it's
worth a try, especially if other methods have proven ineffective.
In 2011, Dr. B.F. Walker from Murdoch University, Australia, did an
analysis of various studies. The Cochrane review of chiropractic
interventions for back pain analyzed the effects of combined
chiropractics on pain, disability, back-related improvement, and overall
Chiropractic interventions slightly improved pain and disability in the
short term, and pain in the medium term.
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|Wild lettuce herb helps to reduce burning back