Ease Back Pain Naturally

Try these herbs and techniques when treating acute back pain and chronic pain.


| March/April 2017



Back Pain

Back pain is the second leading cause for doctor visits in the United States.


Photo by iStock

If your back feels bent out of shape, you’re not alone. Back pain is the second leading cause for doctor visits in the United States. According to the National Institutes of Health, in a three-month period, more than one-fourth of U.S. adults experience at least one day of back pain. The causes of back pain are many. Sometimes it’s brought on by slouching at our desks, sports injuries or sedentary lifestyles. In older people, conditions such as osteoarthritis may be the cause, making spinal joints stiff and sore, and creating pressure on the nerve roots.  

Back pain can be divided into two basic categories: acute pain and chronic pain. Acute pain comes on quickly, but often ends quickly too — for example, lifting a heavy load or falling from a ladder. Chronic pain may develop suddenly or slowly, but it lasts longer — weeks and even months. In both cases, however, it’s best to address and treat the underlying causes of back pain, rather than simply alleviating symptoms. 

Whether you’re dealing with long-term chronic pain, a sudden back injury or painful tension, here are a few herbs, specific remedies and techniques that will help you loosen up and relieve aches and pains.

Herbs for Acute Pain

When it comes to acute pain, it’s tempting to reach for seemingly simple pain remedies in the form of over-the-counter (OTC) drugs such as ibuprofen or aspirin. However, frequent doses — even small ones — of OTC painkillers are hard on the liver, and they can lead to serious side effects such as stomach bleeding or increased risk of stroke. Instead of drugs, try these simple natural remedies for short-term back pain.

Ginger

Ginger is a natural inhibitor of COX-2, an enzyme that uses stored fat to inflame injured areas and lead to pain. In a lab study conducted at the University of Sydney, Australia, researchers discovered that ginger was just as effective as aspirin at inhibiting this action. For best results, take 2,000 to 4,000 mg of ginger per day, or drink three to four cups of ginger tea.

Arnica

Arnica has anti-inflammatory compounds that can treat sore muscles, sprains and other related pains. It comes in many forms for topical use, including tinctures, creams, salves, ointments, gels and oils. Note that arnica should never be ingested, or applied to an open wound.





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