I’ve been dealing with intermittent lower back pain, for the majority of my life. Most of the time I feel great, but sometimes I go through a flare up and it puts me down for the count. I wanted to share some of things I’ve learned, in case it can help any of you.
The most important thing to do is rule out any critical issues with your back, such as a herniated disc or aortic aneurysm. This is usually ruled out via x-ray. Most Chiropractors and Orthopedic doctors will perform an initial assessment and if they feel radiology is necessary they will tell you that. Now that you’ve ruled out the critical problems, you can play around with some other options.
The mind body connection is intertwined together. Some people get headaches, when they are stressed but for me I get my “headache” in my lower back and sometimes my neck… So it’s vital to remove the stress. Working with a licensed therapist and working with emotionally focused therapies can be very useful. There’s a great book called “The Body Keeps the Score” that talks all about this. I’ve personally had some success with tapping and Eye Movement Desensitization (EMDR) and reprocessing therapies.
Often times back and neck pain is due to weak muscles in the body. It’s so important to strengthen your core and work on the muscles that support your posture. We live in a society where we’re always hunched forward looking at our phones and computer. Focusing on your core, upper back, and neck muscles can help reverse this. You can google YouTube videos about this or set up an appointment with a licensed Physical Therapist. A few of my favorite ones to do:
- Wall Angels
- Reverse Plank
- Regular Planks
- Anything to do with abs
Everyone is different, so there is no one size fits all. But for me, following a Paleo diet and limiting my nightshade consumption has helped me a ton! I figured out many of my food triggers by doing a strict elimination diet and then adding one food back in at a time. For example, I found out immediately that tomatoes and processed chocolate (not cacao) break me out in acne and even rashes.
Do not underestimate the power of soaking in the tub. I know, I know… many people hate sitting in the tub because it makes them feel dirty. Just shower first and then soak. I promise you that it’s worth your time. I usually use about 3-4 cups of Epsom salt and soak for about 20 minutes. Be sure to drink plenty of filtered water afterwards, to allow your body to pump out the toxins.
This is by far one of the greatest things that has helped me. Please click here to read more about how I use it. When I’ve had flare ups in the past, I’ve tried using muscle relaxers but to be completely honest they did not help with the pain AND they caused me to have constipation (yes that’s a side effect of muscle relaxers and narcotics). I prescribe muscle relaxers to most of my patients for muscle spasms (because that’s what is currently still recommended) but from my experience they didn’t really help.
I have had some luck with prednisone (steroid) but I do not recommend this unless you’re desperate. Steroids come with MANY potential safety issues and they decrease your immune response.
I found a cervical pillow off of Amazon that has been a godsend for me! It’s a bit challenging to get used to sleeping with it, but it has nearly eliminated my shoulder pain.
I do not get royalties for any links provided, but you can click here to find the pillow I use. I bought the midsize one.
Stretching and breathwork is vital for me. All of my healing really started with yoga and meditation. Right now I’m thoroughly enjoying my T.V fitness membership to GAIAM. They have so many different workouts that you can try out, including yoga and mediation. Yoga balls can also be super helpful for doing restorative back bends.
These are fantastic! You can place them on the floor or the wall and really get into that muscle and work it out. I use rollers as well, but the balls seem to work better.
You can click here for the link on Amazon.
This has been my saving grace! I use it while I’m chilling on the couch and I actually use it during any workouts that require me to lie on my back. It helps increase blood flow to the injured area, which in turn allows for more healing. I also find it easier to stretch out after using the heating pad.
When I lived in Florida I had access to an excellent sauna. I REALLY love saunas because it allows your body to warm up to the point, where stretching is easy. So if you ever happened to glance over at me, chances are you’d capture me doing some type of yoga stretch. LOL. To read more about saunas, click here.
This was a game changer for me. I found an excellent acupuncturist in Delray Beach, FL. His name is Adam Moskow. I was having 10/10 pain to my neck with certain movements and after my first session with him he was able to get me down to a 5/10. I was amazed at how much better the acupuncture helped my pain compared to muscle relaxers, steroids and pain meds. He used a type of acupuncture called Electroacupuncture, which involves electrical stimulation directly to the needles. Now that I live in NYC, I’ve found another a great acupuncturist on the Upper West Side (message me if you want her name).
Tip: If you have a HSA card, with your insurance company, you can use it to pay for your acupuncturist. Some insurance companies will actually even cover acupuncture these days.
My advice, find a chiropractor who is more focused on muscle manipulation, stretching, and strengthening. Adjustments can be super helpful, but I’ve found more relief with learning how to stretch the correct way, learning how to work on my posture, and having tissue manipulation done.
I found a VERY affordable TENS unit by Belifu on Amazon for only $35! With the coronavirus lock down, I haven’t been able see my chiropractor or acupuncturist in over a month. But this machine is fantastic! It’s portable and easy to use. Click here for the link.
I love this massager from Amazon. Click here if you’re interested.
This is like the natural form of Biofreeze or Icy Hot.
Again, no royalties for me, but you can click here for the one I use.
This is SO helpful during a flare up. You can usually find this at a pharmacy.
JUST EAT REAL FOOD – Stop focusing on calories & focus on what you’re eating and how it makes you feel. Your body is always giving you signals, but many times we ignore them. Pay attention if you develop nausea, gas, bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation, headaches, joint pain, rashes, sinus problems, or cold sores. If you develop any of these things after eating, it’s a good indicator that your body is giving you a clue to stop consuming something in your food. Many times these symptoms come from consuming chemicals, artificial coloring, and preservatives. Other times these symptoms can occur from a food allergy or sensitivity. Pay attention. Creating a food diary is a really great way to help you figure out what your triggers are. Food elimination diets such as AIP, Paleo or Low FODMAP are also great resources.
Information in this posting is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Talk to your medical provider before starting any new supplements or medications.