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Beating Back Pain

Updated on September 30, 2013

We spend so much of our time sitting at desks, driving in cars, relaxing in front of the TV and of course sitting at the computer. We are unfortunately not using our muscles as nature intended and because of the amount of sitting we do every day, we end up with a pain in the back. Or we feel tension or even pain at the back of our neck or in our shoulders. One of the other causes of back pain is not using good posture. Maybe mom was right when she told us to sit up straight when we were kids!

Another contributing factor to our aching back is stress. Stress causes us to stiffen our neck, tighten our shoulders and even tensing our back muscles. This can contribute to more aches and pains, sore muscles and eventually we aren’t as limber or flexible as we once were.

Generally our first course of actions is to find some painkillers. This is not a long term solution and only masks the problems. Or we end up going to get a massage. Massage can bring relief but again it doesn’t address the underlining problem.

If the pain in our back is bad enough we can end up going for physical therapy, or even osteopathic, chiropractic and acupuncture treatments. People do get results from these treatments but often they are short term and we end up going repeatedly for these kinds of therapies.

It is a good idea to check with your doctor to make sure you don’t have any serious injuries to your back that is actually causing the pain. If that is not the problem then there are solutions to the age old problem of having back pain.

One way is to start an exercise program that can help strengthen your core and your back muscles. Pilates and yoga are both good types of exercise that will help to strengthen the core but will also help to make the muscles stronger and more flexible. Shiatsu massage is also a really good choice for massage as it aligns the meridians in the body and helps calm the sympathetic nervous system and improves circulation, relieves stiff muscles and alleviates stress.

Did You Know?

People who smoke may be 33% more likely to develop back pain, possibly because lighting up reduced blood flow to the spine. The statistics come from a Finnish study that used 30,000 adults for their findings.

The Many Causes of Back Pain

There are several causes of back pain and here is a list of the most common causes.

Muscle Strain
The most common reason for back pain is a muscle strain. This happens when the muscle is overstretched or actually gets torn. Also back pain can occur when an injury happens to the ligaments. This is called a sprain. These types of injuries often lead to muscle spasms which can radiate pain into the buttock area of the body. Muscle strains are caused be excessive exercise or heavy lifting.

Herniated Discs
The vertebrae makes up your spine and between each vertebrae is a disc which is a soft, cushiony substance which acts as a shock absorber to the spine. A herniated disc can happen when the harder outer wall of the disc cracks and the inside seeps out. Or a herniated disc can compress a nerve in the spine which is referred to as a pinched nerve.

Something that can happen over time is a condition of the spine called degenerative disc disease. This involves a decrease in the liquid content of the disc and will cause the disc to become hard and the size of the disc can also become smaller. Pain is felt in the lower back from this condition that can also be felt in the leg as a result of nerve pain.

Weight changes occur during pregnancy and as a result extra weight is put in the stomach area which can cause stress to the back leading to muscle injuries or strains. Sciatica is a common condition experienced during pregnancy. This is an inflammation or pressure of the sciatic nerve. The resulting pain can be mild to severe and in some cases can result in numbness into the buttocks and legs. The good news is that much of the problem disappears after the woman gives birth.

This disease is a thinning of the bones caused by a lack of calcium. In extreme cases fractures can occur but most often it can cause back pain. Because of the decline in estrogen, post-menopausal women are the most susceptible to this condition.

The good news about back pain is that once you have determined what is causing it, you can find ways to treat the condition. One of the best things you can do when you first experience back pain is to rest.

Back Pain Tips

When dealing with back pain, it is best to rest, take anti-inflammatory pain medicines like ibuprofen (Advil), naproxen (Aleve) or acetaminophen (Tylenol) and in a few days time your backache should be gone.

As well applying heat or cold on the back can relief some people's pain. However, in the hot-versus-cold debate, an equal number of people benefit from one but not the other. So unfortunately there isn't any official answer to this question.

You can also do stretches and other exercises to relieve low back pain. Just make sure you are doing the kind of exercise that will help heal your back and not make it worse.

Shiatsu Massage
Shiatsu Massage

Shiatsu Massage to Relief Back Pain

Shiatsu is an ancient Japanese massage using finger pressure that is said to balance the body. This hands on therapy was developed from the ancient art of massage nearly 4,000 years ago. The practitioner uses finger pressure massage to treat special points called meridians. It is believed that this massage will open the channels of energy flow or Chi in the body that has become blocked. Shiatsu massage can open the blocked points and relieve any physical discomfort and rebalance the energy flow in the body. The many benefits include stimulating circulation in the skin and stimulating and improving nerve function.

As well as applying pressure, the soft tissue around the meridians can be massaged and some passive or active stretching exercises can form part of the treatment. Shiatsu can also be a great form of pain relief as research has shown that this type of massage helps to release endorphins which are the body’s natural pain killers. Another benefit of Shiatsu is the lowering of stress hormones that can help relax the body.

The most common practice of Shiatsu uses acupressure or acupuncture points to adjust the body’s energy points. Through touch the Shiatsu practitioner can detect the variances of the energy within the body and note where an imbalance has occurred.

The good news about shiatsu massage is that it is a holistic approach to healing and is suitable for all ages. This form of massage is used to treat such chronic aliments as insomnia, fibromyalgia, musculoskeletal pain, neck, back and joint pain, PMS, chronic fatigue syndrome, arthritis, asthma, sciatica and migraines. Shiatsu massage can also used for reducing stress and anxiety.

Depending on your practitioner and the treatment you require, you may be laying on the floor, a mat, or special table or seated in a chair or a futon. A shiatsu therapeutic massage typically costs between $75 and $100 per session. Some health plans cover shiatsu massage therapy sessions if the therapist is certified through the governing body specific to your state or province.

A Pain in the Back

Who knew, back pain can be caused by constipation! That soreness or lower back pain may be a direct result of being constipated. You might think that it is only severe cases of constipation that could cause back pain, but in fact even the minor inconvenience of constipation can contribute to back pain.

Back pain that is caused from lifting or straining the back can cause constipation. This occurs when the muscles in the lower back spasm which can interfere with the nerves responsible for making bowel movements. Also when you are constipated the blockage can cause pressure on the lower back and will continue as long as you are constipated. If you try to force you body to have a bowel movement the straining can also cause back pain.

Make sure you check with your doctor if you experience chronic problems of constipation and back pain as there could be an underlying cause and you should check for any disease.

Best Ways to Eliminate Constipation and Back Pain

Drink plenty of liquids. Water is important to help the body function correctly. Being dehydrated can not only lead to constipation but to back pain as well.

Increase dietary fiber by eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Try eating fresh fruit at breakfast and during the day and as well add a salad to your meals. This way you will get some of the recommended daily allowance for fruits and vegetables.

Lay down on the floor with your legs on a chair will remove pressure and weight from your lower back and give your muscles and nerves a rest.

Exercise. You need to exercise to tone your back muscles and keep them strong. If you aren’t in to exercise take up walking and do this several times a week for at least 20 minutes at a time. Swimming is another great exercise because it takes the pressure off your back but helps to strengthen your core muscles and relieves back pain.

See a chiropractor or massage therapist. If you body is out of alignment or you have tense back muscles, getting an adjustment or massage is a great way to relief back pain and get your bowels moving.

In the long run your back will thank you if you also take care of your bowels.

Back Paini
Back Paini


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    • True Blue Tips profile image

      True Blue Tips 7 years ago

      Thanks Angela. I appreciate you letting me know.

    • Angela Harris profile image

      Angela Harris 7 years ago from Around the USA

      Very impressive hub with lots of information.

    • True Blue Tips profile image

      True Blue Tips 7 years ago

      Thanks Immartin and Deborah for you comments. I very much appreciate your interest in my hug and Deborah thanks for your information. I will have to take a look at trigger point massage.

    • Deborah Demander profile image

      Deborah Demander 7 years ago from First Wyoming, then THE WORLD

      One of the best ways to relieve back pain is through trigger point massage. Much like shiatsu, the masseuse focuses on the areas in your back which refer pain to other areas. There are a lot of muscle fibers which, when activated, can cause severe pain in other areas of your back. After you have someone show you the trigger points, it is possible to manage your own pain, using a thera-cane.

      Thanks for a well written hub.


    • lmmartin profile image

      lmmartin 7 years ago from Alberta and Florida

      I loved with severe back pain for a long time -- until I had surgery and a crushed disc was removed. Then it was like a switch turned off -- the pain was gone. Nirvana! Now, I am so very aware of tension in the upper or lower back and try to "nip it in the bud" so to speak. Great hub and I'll bookmark it and come back to your excellent advice.