Sunday, 1 September 2013
Many people suffer from back problems in the form of mild to severe pain and aching, usually in the lower back, sometimes accompanied by muscle spasms. This condition can be severely restrictive of a person’s movements, and sometimes result in compete immobilization.
The causes of back problems are as follows: osteoarthritis; accidents and injuries; degeneration of the joints, ligaments or muscles; heavy lifting; inactivity; structural defects such as swayback, scoliosis, or a difference in leg length; poor posture; sports involving twisting, lifting, bending, jumping, or sudden starts and stops; exercising before muscles are warmed up; getting up from bed or a seated position the wrong way; and the wearing of high heeled shoes.
Conventional treatment for back problems has involved the following methods: traction and/or bed rest; surgery such as laminectomy or fusion of the spine; injection of the intervertebral disc; medications; and braces. All of these methods have low success rates, and medications can have serious side effects.
Most back problems are caused by weakened muscles, ligaments and tendons which have lost their ability to support the back. Specific back-strengthening exercises can be learned under the supervision of a physical therapist, physiatrist, or from a video put online by a professional authority in this area.
Engaging daily in physical exercises such as swimming, cycling, rowing, stretching, yoga and walking are generally good ways to exercise the crucial supports to the back and thereby prevent problems. It is equally important to avoid things that can lead to back problems such as the failure to keep the knees above the hips when seated for long periods, and the wearing of high-heeled shoes.
Avoid foods such as potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant and peppers if the problem is caused by arthritic changes. Animal foods and sugar-laden foods should be avoided during the treatment of back problems as they cause the loss of oxygen in the bloodstream which will slow healing. The herbs valerian root, yucca, liquorice root and ginger all have positive effects for different reasons on back problems.
The following food supplements, for the reasons stated, can help with back problems: Bromelain, 500mg twice daily, acts as an anti-inflammatory; Vitamin B1, 250mg twice daily, acts as a muscle relaxant, Vitamin B12, 1,000 mcg twice daily, cuts down nervous tension enabling the back to relax; Vitamin C, 1,000mg three times daily, builds up the collagen that strengthens and rebuilds the back muscles.
About six months ago, I got talking to a 74 year old man called Joe who lives on the same road as me. Joe revealed to me that he had been suffering from back problems for years. I asked him if he was computer literate to which he replied that he wasn’t but he lived with his daughter who owned a computer. One Saturday morning, when I was clear of other chores such as trading, I went along to Joe’s house and took him to an online video on back problems put there by the NHS (National Health Service) in the UK.
As Joe was already suffering from back pain, I advised him to start with the least onerous methods outlined in the video which were The Kneeling Stretch and The Knee Rotation exercises, and to gradually introduce the more difficult ones. Joe’s progress was as follows: after three days, he felt some relief; he felt much better after seven days; all the pain had gone after 14 days; he now only uses The Superman exercise 3-4 times a week as a preventative measure but doesn’t expect the problem to reoccur.
The NHS video, which anyone can use as a preventative or treatment measure, can be accessed here. A good video is worth more than a 1,000 words when it comes to describing back-strengthening exercises !
Other methods which have had some success with back problems include acupuncture, acupressure, massage, reflexology treatments, chiropractic adjustments and bed board treatment.
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