If you’ve never woken up with excruciating back pain — the kind that makes you grab your side and drop to your knees or hunch your body over like a little old grannie, then count yourself lucky.
It’s estimated that at least 80% of Americans are affected by back pain at some point in their lives — 25% in the last three months. Anything from a fall to bad posture to sleeping on a bad mattress can throw your back out.
The problem is; your back is your support. You need it to stand, walk, and carry out your everyday tasks.
With back pain so prevalent, it’s important to know what causes it and what you can do about it when it knocks you off your feet. Thus, we’ve created a guide to help you start managing your minor back pain.
*This article is not a replacement for a doctor’s diagnosis and care. If you are experiencing unexplainable extreme pain or pain that just doesn’t seem to go away, you should consult your doctor.
- 1 Causes of Back Pain
- 2 How to Relieve Minor Back Pain Naturally
- 3 Selfcare Goes a Long Way
Causes of Back Pain
Long-term back pain has reached epidemic proportions across the globe. It is one of the primary reasons that Americans succumb to a disability or prescription drugs.
Low-back pain, in particular, is the leading cause of disability in nearly all first world countries as well as Central Europe, Eastern Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, and a portion of Latin America, according to the Global Burden of Disease.
Left untreated, it can become progressively worse.
Causes of Minor Back Pain
You can rest assured that most back pain is not life-threatening, despite what your inner hypochondriac has to tell you. However, back pain can be a symptom of something more serious (like spinal cancer or a kidney infection), so if you are experiencing inexplicable back pain, you should consult with your doctor just to err on the safe side. But chances are, if you experience sudden acute back pain and you did not fall or experience some kind of accident, it was caused by:
- Bad posture: Spending long hours at work in uncomfortable office chairs or hunched over computers in ways that put a strain on the back and neck
- Over-exercising: Exercise routines that are too intense for weak back muscles, causing them to sprain and strain
- Wrenched muscles: Lifting a heavy object or moving heavy furniture in the wrong way, spraining the ligaments and muscles in the back
- Accidents: A blow to the back can bruise the area around the spine or wrenches the muscles and ligaments around it
Causes of Chronic Back Pain
A sizable portion of chronic back pain is lifestyle-related. Slumping over your computer day in, day out and then plopping on your couch with a bag of Doritos to reward yourself for a long day’s work pays its price.
That said, other chronic conditions like arthritis and osteoporosis can cause recurring back pain as well. But they all result from the gradual deterioration of your spine, including the discs and ligaments that comprise it. This can be caused by:
- A lack of regular exercise
- Sitting or lying too long in the wrong position
- Old age
Any of these factors can cause slipped or herniated discs, bulging discs, trapped nerves, and degenerated discs, where a disc slips out of place and puts pressure on sensitive nerve endings that send a pain message to the brain.
While you can’t exactly reverse all of the root causes — say old age, you can alleviate some of your back pain symptoms with lifestyle changes and good old fashioned self-care.
If you just started experiencing back pain, you can place an icepack on your back for fast, short-term relief. When the soft tissues in your back get damaged, they become inflamed, which causes them to press against the nerve endings in your spine. Applying ice to your back helps bring down the swelling and relieve the pressure. But make sure you wrap the ice in a towel or get a soft-covered pack. You won’t exactly find relief when icy cold water is dripping down your back.
2. Massages, Physical Therapy, and Chiropractic Care
When you’re in pain, you’ll likely want to live at your massage therapist, physical therapist, or chiropractor’s office. I know I have my Tu Ina (Chinese Massage) guy on speed dial. You can get nearly instant relief—at least for a few hours. Massage and physical therapists can release tight muscles in your back to allow it to realign in a way that eases the pressure on painful joints or ligaments. They also can help ease stiff, sore muscles that are holding your spine in an uncomfortable position, bringing both upper and lower back pain relief. Likewise, chiropractors manipulate your back to relieve tension and allow stiff muscles to move freely without pain. And physical therapists can work with you on exercises to relieve the pain and correct some of your spinal problems over time. If your pain is significant, you may wish to combine two or three of these approaches as part of your treatment regimen.
3. Natural Topical Analgesics for Back Pain Relief
Topical analgesics are making headway in research and development thanks in part to concerns about the pill burden — be it compliance, side-effects, or dependency. Increasing evidence supports their efficacy for minor pain relief. Moreover, they have a strong safety profile. For instance, people who have sensitive stomachs or heart conditions might not be able to take oral NSAIDs, but could react well to topical analgesics.
That said, there are a whole host of topicals on the market that include NSAID’s, opiates, synthetic ingredients, and toxic chemicals. You’ll want to do your homework when you are looking for a natural solution to your pain management.
Your best plan of action to choose a natural product with menthol, camphor, or capsaicin as active ingredients. While they are applied directly at the source of the pain, their cooling or heating sensation interrupts pain signals in the brain. But be wary of capsaicin for long-term use. Some people find it difficult to manage the burning sensation. After all, it is the chemical in hot peppers that gives them their kick.
Natural topicals creams, ointments, and massage oils use camphor and menthol as counter-irritants that offer temporary relief by distracting your brain from the pain. But unlike capsaicin, they do not max out neurons and cause desensitization over time. Moreover, research suggests that natural creams or ointments can easily and quickly penetrate the skin and soothe the affected area directly.
Of course, you’ll get the best result when you use topicals alongside another form of treatment and lifestyle adjustment that targets the underlying cause of back pain. For example, applying a topical analgesic before a massage or a physical therapy session might help you experience a longer and more thorough treatment, which aids the recovery process. If you are reluctant to do gentle exercise because of the pain in your back, topicals can help you relieve your pain enough for you to get up and get your body moving. By exercising, you can strengthen your back until it’s strong enough to push the pain away for good.
Likewise, it’s worth evaluating your nutrition. If you are overweight or not getting the right nutrition for your condition, it could exacerbate your back pain.
4. Low-Impact Back Pain Relief Exercises
For years, the conventional way to treat back pain has been to rest as much as possible. However, that treatment has been overruled by and large. Sure, bed rest for a day or two can bring lower back pain relief, but it’s not recommended for longer periods. Bedsores and atrophied muscles are hardly what’s going to get you back on your feet. Instead, you should perform gentle, low-impact exercise like yoga, walking, or swimming to gradually strengthen the muscles and ligaments that support your back. A strong back is a healthy back.
5. Change Your Posture
All of that being said, one of the biggest banes of human existence is the modern, sedentary lifestyle. Evolution has not quite caught on to our office culture quite yet.
Maybe in a few 100 generations, we’ll have naturally curved spines and necks to compensate for endlessly hovering over computers and smartphones. But right now we suffer from the way we sit and read.
Our spines create unnatural curves, bends, and twists that cause immense pain when we spend significant time in front of a screen if we are not mindful of our posture.
So pay attention to the way you sit and stand, especially if you spend most of the day sitting. Take frequent, short breaks to stretch your body and change position. This will help reduce stiffness in your joints and muscles.
6. Ergonomic Office Furniture
You don’t have to play extreme sports to kill your back—your chair can do it for you. If you sit all day, your health depends on comfortable office furniture that will adequately support your posture. Encourage your employer to invest in a comfortable, ergonomic office chair that supports your lower back. If you’re adventurous, you can even try a standing desk or a yoga ball chair to maintain your core. No matter whether you are sitting or standing, your computer screen needs to be is at the ideal height – with the top of the screen level with your eyes. Otherwise, you’ll have to hunch over to view it. You also want to keep your feet firmly on the ground standing or at a 45-degree angle when sitting—no dangling legs or pretzel legs.
7. How CBDMEDIC™ Topicals Help Relieve Back Pain
CBDMEDIC™ Back and Neck Ointment has been developed with a high level of naturally-derived ingredients and emollients, including active ingredients camphor and menthol, blended with CBD hemp oil (Cannabis sativa L). Menthol and camphor terpenes cause a mild sensation of coolness and warmth in the affected area, acting as an analgesic. This sensation stimulates the nerve endings with a low-intensity feeling that interrupts the pain messages that were being sent to the brain, which distracts you from your discomfort.
Selfcare Goes a Long Way
A little self-care using CBDMEDIC for minor aches and pains combined with regular exercise and massages can help you get back on your feet.
Have you experienced back pain? If so, tell us about your favorite natural approach to ease the pain.
Disclaimer: This information is for educational purposes only. It has not been approved by the FDA to diagnose, treat, prevent, cure, or mitigate any diseases or conditions. We use CBD in our products for cosmetic purposes only.