Monday, September 15, 2014

Treat Low Back Pain Naturally

There are simple measures you can take to prevent low back pain and natural ways to treat it when it occurs.

Woman holds back in pain.
Low-back pain is one of the most common reasons Americans visit the doctor.

Low back pain is, well, a pain in the back. The news site Medscape reports that low back pain is the second-most common symptom-related reason for seeing a doctor in the United States. There are simple measures you can take to prevent low back pain and natural ways to treat it when it occurs.

What are the most common causes of low back pain?

  • Lifting heavy objects using the muscles in your low back instead of lifting with your legs
  • Sitting for long periods of time when driving or working a desk job
  • Injuries and accidents

Important steps for preventing low back pain:

  • Improve core strength. Yoga is great, including the plank and balance poses.
  • Stuck sitting all day? Swap your conventional chair for an exercise ball or balance disc.
  • Practice your lifting technique. Use a shoulder-width stance with a squatting motion instead of bending over. Then lift slowly. If you lift heavy objects many times per day, consider an industrial lifting belt to prevent injury.

What natural treatments are available for low back pain?

  • Hands-on treatment. Acupuncture, trigger point therapy, assisted muscle stretching, postural assessment, and other physical medicine modalities are a great addition to any treatment regimen.
  • Anti-inflammatory agents. Specific nutrients and botanical medicines can reduce inflammation and thus pain. They come in either oral or topical form.
  • Hydrotherapy. Alternating hot and cold water can increase circulation, which brings healing to the area of need.

Even though low back pain is common, it does not have to be for you! Work with your doctor on incorporating some of these suggestions and be sure to consult with a naturopathic physician for further evaluation and patient-specific treatment.

— By Emily Lesnak, ND, resident at Bastyr Center for Natural Health.

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