Chronic back pain and me.
Do you, like me suffer from chronic back pain? Maybe its from a old sporting injury, work related injury from lifting incorrectly or from just sitting too long at your desk and using a computer?
Back pain is annoying, its painful, it comes at the perfect time to stop us enjoying our life’s and it can be very time consuming and expensive to manage and to treat. So, it’s about time we did something about it!
I’m probably one of the worst offenders, I spend far too much time each day; sitting at my desk and using my computer, which for the majority of the time is sitting at the wrong level (ergonomically) for me to sit in a healthy posture. I tend to look down at my screen instead of up, my fingers rarely leave the keyboard and as my typing skills are not as per the perfect typist (I.e using three or four fingers at most, instead of all 10) which leads to strains in my fingers and of course can lead to the potential of Carpal Tunnel in my wrists.
What is low back pain?
“Low back pain” which can be acute or chronic, is literally pain or discomfort of the lower lumbar region of the back. Acute back pain usually follows some kind of injury, often related to everyday activities such as housework, gardening, a sports-related injury or an automobile accident. Back pain that lasts for more than three months is classified as chronic.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms are often described as muscle aches but can include shooting or stabbing pain, limited flexibility and range of motion, or an inability to stand straight.
What are the causes?
Most cases of low back pain are due to strain on the bones, muscles, and ligaments of the spine. In some cases, however, low back pain can be due to such serious conditions as cancer or structural problems of the spine, which can cause nerve damage. Occasionally, lower back pain is due to a “slipped disk” (also called a herniated disk), in which one of the disks of cartilage that separates the vertebrae in the spine bulges out of place and presses on nerves. Often, a disk “slips” as a result of twisting while lifting, but the cause may not be identifiable.
Simple preventive steps can help eliminate recurring back pain resulting from improper body mechanics or from other causes of back problems that don’t stem from injuries.
Exercises that tone the back and maintaining proper posture are especially helpful. In addition, anyone with a tendency to develop back pain should learn to lift objects properly:
• Bend your knees and squat to pick up an object
• Keep your back straight
• Hold the object close to your body
• Avoid twisting
Choosing ergonomic furniture and tools at home and at work can also help avoid strains on the back.
What is the conventional treatment?
Most acute back pain will resolve on its own within two weeks without medical intervention. Whether lower back pain is acute or chronic, most cases are initially treated with over-the-counter pain relievers to reduce discomfort and with anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce inflammation. Sometimes, prescription drugs may be recommended for pain relief and to allow quality sleep. Cold and hot compresses may help reduce pain and inflammation and allow greater mobility, although they have not been scientifically proven to quickly resolve low back injury. Bed rest is recommended for only 1-2 days at most, and patients are advised to resume their normal activities as soon as possible. Massage therapy can be very useful in cases of acute muscle spasm causing back pain and problems with flexibility. Exercise may be the best way to speed recovery and strengthen back and abdominal muscles. Physical therapy may be recommended for more severe strains. In the most serious cases that don’t respond to other forms of treatment, and that involve compromised structures in the spine, surgery may be recommended to relieve pain caused by back problems or serious musculoskeletal injuries.
• Practice a relaxation technique daily: Options include mindfulness meditation (proven to ease chronic back pain), breath work, progressive muscle relaxation and hypnotherapy.
• Try Yoga, Tai Chi or Qigong, the stretches and slow movements can reduce muscle tension, strengthen the back and promote flexibility.
• Electrical stimulation: Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) delivers low level electrical pulses to the lower back (you can get a portable device for home use). Percutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (PENS) works the same way but delivers the pulses via needles inserted into the back rather than electrodes used with TENS.
• Exercise: Both aerobic and strength training exercises can help. Aerobic exercise includes walking, swimming or cycling, all of which can help strengthen the back. Aerobic exercise also burns calories and helps you lose any excess weight that may contribute to your back problem. In addition, perform strength training exercises at least twice a week to tone and firm the abdominal, leg and buttock muscles that help to support the back. Seek out proper instruction before embarking on a strength training program; using either free weights or weight machines improperly can defeat the purpose. Make sure you do some stretching or yoga for flexibility.
• Chiropractic care may be of benefit in the treatment of back and neck pain. Many chiropractors use a kind of manipulation called “dynamic thrust”: a low speed, high force movement often accompanied by a popping or cracking sound. Others use a low-force, high-speed method, known as the Activator method (incorporating a tension spring and plunger tool) that may be a better choice for older patients who could be injured by dynamic thrust.
• Acupuncture. Studies indicate that acupuncture can help to relieve several kinds of pain, including low back pain.
I have personally been going through many weeks of intensive treatments for my chronic back pain, I have had scans and MRI’s, X-Rays and all the normal forms of medical diagnostics, and the consensus is I have a disk that likes to pop out from time to time, I guess to keep me mindful that it is still there and still important as a member of by spine ☺ When this disk pops out it usually manages to trap a nerve while its out of alignment from my other disk’s, this then causes shooting pains down my back and leg, often stopping my completely, immobilizing me and causing me severe pain.
I try not to agitate it, I take things as easy as possible, I don’t lift heavy objects, I always bend my knees and squat properly to lift anything even the lightest and easiest of objects, I exercise as often as my back allows, Qigong and Yoga are my personal favorite forms of exercise and I meditate and use my own forms of personal healing including self-hypnosis and visualization techniques.
I also have deep nerve massages twice per week followed by acupuncture with TENS then Cupping.
Cupping therapy is an ancient Chinese form of alternative medicine in which a local suction is created on the skin; practitioners believe this mobilizes blood flow in order to promote healing. Suction is created using heat (fire) or mechanical devices (hand or electrical pumps). There is reason to believe the practice dates from as early as 3000 B.C.; the earliest record of cupping is in the Ebers Papyru, one of the oldest medical textbooks in the world, describes in 1550 B.C. Egyptians used cupping. Archaeologists have found evidence in China of cupping dating back to 1000 B.C. In ancient Greece, Hippocrates (c. 400 B.C.) used cupping for internal disease and structural problems. This method in multiple forms spread into medicine throughout Asian and European civilizations.
Yesterday afternoon, I met with a Qigong Master, we met in a local park and I meditated while he manipulated my Qi (energy) to my lower back, I focused my internal Qi with his and the combination of the two energy forces worked in harmony together to reduce my pain to the point where it disappeared completely, I was totally relaxed, there was no tension in my body, I was stress free and my own body took control over the healing process, after my session in the park, I was able to walk freely and in fact walked home which is about four miles from the park ☺
I guess, alternative therapies and treatments are certainly a part of my life and they could also offer you some relief from your pain too.