Many people think of back pain as a structural problem related to the disks and cartilage between the disks. People usually think that their back pain comes from either a slipped or compressed disk or tightness in the muscles however, the spine is intricately connected to more than the musculoskeletal system. Often they think they need to immobilize the spine, take a pain relieving pill or just get their spine adjusted by a chiropractor when this may not actually be the whole picture or root of their pain at all. In fact, sometimes restricting motion of the body can exacerbate back pain if it makes the body less healthy by decreasing circulation, nervous system health and increasing emotional stress from weight gain and low endorphin levels.
The spine is also the home of the main portals of the nervous system as well as the endocrine system. Sometimes back pain is actually related to the nerves and conditions that affect the them such as neuropathy. Alternatively, some back pain comes from arterial issues related to unhealthy circulation or inflammation in the body. Arthritis which is essentially inflammation can be a cause of back pain as well.
The reason it’s important for us to expand our understanding of what can cause back pain is so that we can also expand our ideas of what can help to solve it. For example, if you are experiencing back pain from spinal stenosis, diabetic neuropathy, inflammatory arthritis or peripheral arterial disease, it would be best for you to cleanse your body through a clean diet by eliminating processed foods, refined sugars and inflammation causing acid forming foods like alcohol, coffee and starchy foods. Moreover, reducing stress can help your nervous system and strengthening exercises like yoga and power walking can help improve your blood flow and reduce stress that causes these types of symptoms.
Many times people have radiating nerve pain going down their legs and they could have a nerve condition caused spinal stenosis if they have pain going down hill and relief from bending forward. Often they think they have to live with the condition and get minor relief from massage but they don’t realize they may need more strengthening exercises and a healthier diet. If they have pain in the lower back and when walking uphill, they may have peripheral arterial disease.
As a healed patient of chronic back pain and teacher of holistic health, I don’t like to use the word ‘disease’ because in our society the term is thought of as a permanent condition that needs a medication. Try to think of any condition as just that, something that can be aided by cleansing your body physical and cleansing your nervous system with breath work. When the body is in ‘dis-ease’ it needs to find balance. The nervous system is an electrical circuitry system that is greatly influenced by your emotions while the blood is a delivery system that controls inflammation and is influenced by diet and stress. There are undoubtedly many false negatives and false positives when it comes to medical condition testing but sometimes they can help you understand the stresses your life or lifestyle may be putting on your body and help you find where you can adjust.
I also recommend more than one solution to your back pain which involves working with a naturopath and nutritionist as well as some type of emotional counselor. When we attack our problems from multiple fronts we can heal our systems from multiple angles because they interact so much with each other. Remember, we are used to thinking black and white about our sicknesses and think that there is one magic bullet to them but usually we need to change a few things.
Learning about how to become empowered in our thinking and release negative thought patterns is one part of healing the body because the emotions affecting the nerves are intricately tied to shortness of breath, lack of oxygen, tightness in the muscles and inflammation caused by the stress hormone cortisol.
There are ways to improve the circulation and arterial health by cleansing your blood with organic plant based eating, juice cleanses, colonics, yoga that improves regular digestion and cleansing products like those offered by Garden of Life which is a high quality supplement brand.
If you only treat the pain in your back with anti-inflammatory NSAIDs like Aleve, Advil or IBuprofen, you may never get to the root of your back pain which is often housed in a combination of the systems in your body (be it circulatory, nervous, muscular). Essentially if you have a very stressful lifestyle, low exercise and poor diet, your blood, circulation and nerves will all be affected.
So you’re probably wondering how you can get a more clear picture of what exactly is causing your back pain. Try to think it terms of overall health of the interacting systems of your body. Usually it is a combination of factors contributing to your back pain and it can be hard to pinpoint just one cause. Doctors can run EMG’s to look for neuropathy and ABI’s to test the blood flow. Remember, there are two schools of thought and often a doctor will offer you a pill which will only mask the symptoms instead of looking from the perspective of healing the body from the inside out.
Having been through the ringer in the medical system with severe symptoms that were hard to diagnose, including inflammation and chronic back pain, I can confidently say that diet, stress reduction techniques like yoga and meditation as well as low impact exercises like yoga and power walking can all help to heal your body and mind which are intricately linked. This is common knowledge in many older cultures which focus on teaching healthy eating and positive mental techniques as a normal part of everyday life. It is only in the fast past modern lifestyle where emotional awareness is put on the back shelf and food is an after thought often resulting in a snap decision to pick up greasy fried food from a drive through. Ultimately a healthy lifestyle and learning about positive psychological techniques can be healing for that hard to diagnose back pain.