By Dr. David Blyweiss, Advanced Natural Wellness
May 29, 2015
- Do you know what’s causing your back pain?
- Your best bet to shut down pain quickly
- Get long-term relief for your aching back
Lower back pain can be excruciating. And unfortunately, it hits almost everyone – around four out of every five people – at some point in their life. In some people it’s chronic. In others, it’s short-term.
However, there’s one thing for sure. When that pain strikes, you want instant relief. Chances are good you head off to your doctor hoping that an X-ray and a few meds will fix you right up.
Unfortunately X-rays and other imaging techniques (MRI, CT Scan) don’t always show the cause of your back pain. In fact, there are many times when the reason for back pain is never known.
But no need to worry, there’s hope on the horizon. Even if you don’t learn the underlying cause, most acute back pain normally starts improving within a matter of weeks. And after a month or two, it resolves on its own.
But what happens when it doesn’t? Here’s what you can do when back pain has you in its grips.
If your X-ray doesn’t show a definitive cause of back pain, your doctor’s first line of defense is likely going be prescribing a non steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, or NSAID, to reduce pain and swelling.
These include OTC drugs like aspirin, naproxen (Aleve) and ibuprofen (Advil), or possibly others that require a prescription.
I don’t like these drugs. They damage your kidneys, cause liver failure, increase your risk of heart failure and break down joint cartilage.
They may also prescribe a painkiller, such as oxycodone, to help keep the agony at bay.
These types of drugs contain narcotics that can lose their effectiveness over time. At the same time, they create dependence. Many people taking these drugs for short periods of time become addicted in the long run.
I don’t like creating addicts, so I don’t recommend them.
Here are your best bets to shut down your pain quickly…
Capsaicin is the ingredient in peppers that makes them hot. When you apply it to your skin, it goes to work right away by attracting and destroying the messenger chemical that carries pain sensations to your brain. It basically blocks nerves from sending pain signals, to help relieve back pain quickly.
You can get even better results if you look for one that includes menthol – which is often referred to as “nature’s anesthesia.” Look for a maximum-strength formula that contains 0.75% capsaicin. I like roll-on formulas, so you can apply it exactly where it’s needed without getting it all over your hands (and in turn, your eyes.)
DL phenylalanine, or DLPA, is often used by athletes and people with chronic pain. It eases pain by blocking the enzymes that break down the body’s natural pain-killing chemicals. This amino acid builds up in the system and becomes more effective over time.
Most people can begin with 300 to 500 mg. twice a day and see relief, while others may need to reach 2,000 to 3,000 mg. a day. Be sure to take vitamin B6 and vitamin C along with DLPA, as they must be present in the blood for the DLPA to be absorbed.
Drink plenty of water. Back pain is often linked to inadequate hydration. If you’re in doubt about how much water you need, just go by the 8-by-8 rule – eight ounces of water eight times a day.
Here are a few other options to get your back pain under control.
If you’re in the grips of back pain, the recommendations above can help a lot.
But it’s also important not to view yourself as an invalid. The more you “baby” your back by lying around in bed, the worse your outcome will be.
So sure, take a day or two to recover. During that time, it’s a good idea to pop a cold pack under the affected area for 20 minutes or so several times a day. When the pain starts to lessen, alternate with a heat pack to loosen up the muscles.
Then, on day three, get out of bed and start moving again.
This is also a great time to consider some of your other options. Many of my patients find that acupuncture and/or chiropractic care help get them over the worst of their symptoms more quickly.
I also suggest considering physical therapy – for both the short and the long run.
You see, even though back pain typically resolves itself within a few months, many people will experience a recurrence at some point in time. So it’s important to use all resources at your disposal to keep it at bay.
A physical therapist can teach you specific exercises that strengthen your back and abdominal muscles. This can help you recover in the short term.
But when you perform these exercises regularly, it creates a thick “girdle” of muscle that helps prevent strains, sprains and pulled back muscles. So you get the benefit of added protection in the long term.
Take good care of your back…and your back will take good care of you.
Chou R, et al. Diagnostic Imaging for Low Back Pain: Advice for High-Value Health Care From the American College of Physicians. Ann Intern Med. 2011;154(3):181-189.
Last A, et al. Chronic Low Back Pain: Evaluation and Management. Am Fam Physician. 2009 Jun 15;79(12):1067-1074.
Page J, et al. “Consumption of NSAIDs and the development of congestive heart failure in elderly patients: an underrecognized public health problem.” Arch Intern Med. 2000 Mar 27;160(6):777-84.
Cho E, et al. “Prospective Evaluation of Analgesic Use and Risk of Renal Cell Cancer.” Archives of Internal Medicine, 2011; 171 (16): 1487.
Hauser, RA. “The Acceleration of Articular Cartilage Degeneration in Osteoarthritis by Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs.” Journal of Prolotherapy. 2010;(2)1:305-322