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Understanding Back Pain, What Causes it, and How to End it

back and neck painBack pain is among the most commonly reported health issue today and it is estimated that at least 31 million Americans are living with lower and upper back pain at any given time. The American Chiropractic Association also has shown that: “One-half of all working Americans admit to having back pain symptoms each year. Back pain is one of the most common reasons for missed work. In fact, it is the second most common reason for visits to the doctor’s office (next to upper-respiratory infections). As many as 75 to 85 percents of the population will experience a back problem at some time in their lives” (Mercola).  In the vast majority of these cases, this pain is mechanical in nature meaning it is not caused by a disease but rather some sort of injury or outside environmental factor such as an injury or over use. Back pain can be long lasting and permanent for the most part, a condition known as chronic back pain, or it can come and go and be tied to certain activities, a condition known as acute back pain.  Millions of Americans deal with some degree of back pain and they spend at least 86 billion dollars each year on back pain. And in reality, this figure is much larger when things like home remedies, and other smaller hidden costs and missed work is taken into account. It is little wonder then why it is so important we work to keep understanding back pain and the various treatments for back pain that are available. That is why we here at Tree of Life Chiropractic are committed to helping each and every patient we work with achieve the relief they need so they can enjoy a better quality of life!

What Are the Common Causes of Back Pain?

Accidents and sports injuries comprise the bulk of lower and upper back pain cases and are the leading causes of back injuries. But sometimes, even the most basic of things can trigger pain. Bending over or rolling over or sitting for too long can also lead to back pain for many individuals. There are also a number of other factors that can increase your risk of back pain, such as:

  • Being overweight
  • Not exercising and eating right
  • Poor posture
  • Lack of protective gear during sports
  • Diseases and health conditions
  • Bone loss disorders
  • High levels of stress and anxiety
  • Injury from auto accidents and sport injuries
  • Work related injuries
  • Spending too much time on your feet
  • Other biological or environmental factors

The Price You Pay for Poor Emotional Health

It has long been proposed that there is a strong connection between our physical health and our emotional health- one feeds into the other and they both affect each other in powerful ways. Underlying issues such as stress, depression, anxiety, and unresolved emotional issues can profoundly influence your physical well-being and has been shown to play a  large role in how the body reacts to and registers pain levels.

A 2004 study by the American Chiropractic Association focused on back pain and its findings support this theory and showed that those who had uncontrolled stress or who struggled with depression, anxiety, guilt, or fear experienced more pain flare-ups, more severe symptoms, and also were more likely to have chronic pain. Those who struggled with phycological issues were three times more likely to complain of back pain and also tended to have more severe symptoms with their flare-ups.

This is why a growing number of pain management experts who focus on a more natural and homeopathic approach are looking at treating the underlying stress and psychological issues as part of the back pain treatment process. The process of treating back pain today is focusing more on understanding back pain and using them in the treatments for back pain in order to achieve a better method of living with back pain.

It is now accepted by most in the medical community that one’s mental state of mind and one’s psychological starting point will impact over all health and also play a large role in recovery from injury. A positive outlook is indeed a help, especially in cases of chronic or severe back pain. Few argue this point, but few know how to go about adopting this outlook and how to make the shift from traditional medicated pain treatment to a more self-guided natural approach.

Drug Dangers in Pain Management

In medical practices today the gi-to solution for pain seems to always be medications and drugs of some kind, whether it is over the counter medication like NSAIDs or Tylenol or stronger prescription narcotics like oxycodone. This is not good because even though drugs and prescriptions can help reduce pain levels these can cause other severe side effects:

  • Bleeding in the stomach
  • Development of ulcers
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Kidney and liver problems
  • Increased risk of stroke or heart attack
  • Risk of addiction to narcotic pain medication

There is no such thing as a completely safe drug; they all carry some sort of side effect and there is also a risk for drug interactions. The bottom line is that painkillers always come with risks. The problem is that while we are getting a better understanding of back pain and what causes it and how it affects someone,
many of the treatments for back pain have stayed relatively unchanged and this is doing a disservice to many. There are other options to choose from and there are safer ways to deal with your back pain other than harmful drugs and addictive medications that bring a host of other side effects along with the pain relief.

Cut Your Risk From the Beginning!

As with any health condition or disease, prevention is often the best way to protect your short term and long term health. To help you, we here at Tree of Life Chiropractic want to pass on these simple tips may be helpful to you:

  • Always take the time to stretch out for a few minutes before doing any strenuous activity. Warm-ups help protect against injury, which is why athletes always stretch and warm up before they begin to play.
  • Do not slouch and hunch your shoulders when standing or sitting; good posture keeps your spine in proper alignment and when your spine is stable the rest of your body follows suit.
  • If you spend a lot of the day sitting, especially at a computer or a desk, it is important that you take breaks to stand and stretch and walk around for a few minutes to keep your muscles and joints from getting stiff and sore.
  • Sit in chairs that have good back support and use special back supports in the car.
  • Avoid bending over to lift or pick something up without supporting your lower back.
  • Wear comfortable, low-heeled shoes as these are best for reducing levels of stress on the spine and cause the least amount of pain and discomfort.
  • Sleep on your side on a firm surface; if you must sleep on your back place a pillow under your legs and the knees to keep the curve of your spine in a more natural shape.
  • When weight-lifting, keep your back straight.
  • Maintain an optimal weight, stay active, and lose the extra weight you have.
  • Quit smoking to avoid the buildup of toxins in the body.
  • Eat a well-balanced diet to ensure your body has all the nutrients it needs to operate fully.
  • Drink plenty of water in order to maintain proper cellular growth and formation within the body.

How to Relieve Back Pain Naturally

If you have been diagnosed with back issues or have been living with back pain for some time now, you need to know that there are wonderful and effective alternatives to prescription and over-the-counter painkillers, though they may require a bit of time to start seeing effects and thus require some patience on your part.  Here are some options to consider for more natural treatments for back pain:

Chiropractic Care

A wonderful option for easing back pain, seeing a qualified chiropractor on a regular basis, can be just the relief you are looking for. Good chiropractic care helps keep your spine aligned, ensures proper blood and oxygen flow throughout the body, and helps preserve bone and muscle and joint health. The problem is that far too many people think chiropractors do nothing more than push bones back into place and crack people’s backs. However, there’s a whole lot more to chiropractic care and in many ways taking care of the spine is the first and most important step in ensuring overall body health and wellness is preserved. Many studies have established the fact that chiropractic treatments provide a much safer and less expensive option for pain relief and symptom management than modern medical treatments for back pain. This is why understanding back pain care is so important.
What sets chiropractic care apart from all other treatments for back pain is the full body approach. Rather than just targeting the back pain and putting a Band-Aid on it by treating the symptoms, this approach focuses on removing the cause of the symptom and thus working to remove pain rather than just masking it or covering it up with drugs.

Exercises for Back Pain

Exercise and engaging in physical activity can go a long way in helping to strengthen the muscles of the spine, which can go a long way in reducing back pain symptoms. One popular type of exercise routine is called Foundation Training and it is comprised of simple but powerful structural movements targeting your core and foundation of your body. By strengthening your back, abdomen, chest, and spine, you can strengthen and protect the rest of the body as well by restoring balance, good system flow, and a proper alignment throughout the body.

Gokhale Method

Created by “posture guru” Esther Gokhale, with this approach you will rediscover your primal posture, or rather the proper way the human body is meant to sit, stand, bend, and move based on its actual biological and physiological construction. Her techniques teach you how to sit, lay, stand, and walk with proper posture and is a re-training of your habits in regards to your posture. One of the best parts of this method is you can retrain yourself in a month or two in most cases and once you have re-learned the proper way to hold yourself day in and day out, you can forego the chiropractor, the yoga classes, and other practices if you wish because you can do it all yourself.

High-Intensity Interval Training

There is a lot to be said for the health benefits, general and for your spine, that can be gained from high-intensity workout sessions. High workouts that really get your heart pumping and that build muscles and burn fat can be a wonderful option for your weekly workout routine. It can help you reduce the frequency, severity, and duration of back pain in the long run. Building muscles help keep your spine in alignment and prevent shifts in the vertebrae and disc and also reduces the chances of muscle pulls and sprains from occurring. Building your endurance and improving your heart rate can boost blood and oxygen flow which can strength then spine and nervous system too. And of course, losing weight reduces the strain the body has to endure and can be a big help in finding treatments for back pain!

Remember, though, having a workout routine, even a great high intensity one, does not give you an excuse to be a couch potato for hours each day. In fact, even if you’re fairly physically active, health issues can still sneak up on you on if you are stationary for too many hours on a daily basis. This phenomenon is called the “active couch potato effect.” Essentially the good you do in your workout is outweighed and negated by the bad effects of the lazy habits. In order to avoid this, you need to break the sitting cycle and try not to go more than 30 minutes at a tie without getting up and doing some sort of physical activity, even running in place or some bending and stretching exercises for a few minutes. It will go a long way in preserving the benefits you gain from your active workouts.


Yoga may be an effective strategy for alleviating back pain by making people more aware of how they move their bodies. Countless studies have bene done and almost all have shown that yoga and other meditative practices help to regulate and balance the body and when the body is balanced and in harmony, it is healthier and stronger. This helps reduce pain and discomfort, reduces instances of illness, reduces the chances of injury, and improves the overall outlook on life and boost mental focus and hormone levels. All of this can work together to keep the body in harmony and pain-free.


Getting a massage is another simple strategy that helps treat back pain in several ways. It loosens tight muscles and reduces tension on the spine and tendons and joints.  Massage releases endorphins that help relieve pain, reverse damage to tissue, calms and relaxes, and ushers in a feeling of peace. It also reverses the damaging effects of stress and keeps the body in balance.

K-Laser Therapy

For some cases of back pain, the issues may be so severe and the damage so extensive that surgery is required. But this does not mean you have to go under the knife and get invasive surgery and have a scar for the rest of your life. Infrared K-Laser therapy is a new revolutionary treatment that works by stimulating the cytochrome oxidase enzyme that naturally occurs within the mitochondria of our cells. It improves blood flow and cell replication and thus helps reduce pain and inflammation by speeding up the process of healing of soft tissue, bone, muscle, ligaments, and tendons. It is also usually much more affordable than traditional back surgery and has almost no recovery time and minimal risk for side effects.

The more we learn the more our knowledge and understanding of back pain improves and we are able to develop better treatment options that address the causes of the pain, not just the symptoms, and that offers a safer and more effective way of dealing with upper and lower back pain. It is this search for new and better treatments for back pain that inspire so many in the medical community to push beyond what we have today and discover bigger and better breakthroughs that can change even more lives.

Other Strategies to Eliminate Chronic Back Pain

When it comes to understanding back pain, and getting more options in regards to treatments for back pain, there are many natural elements that can help strengthen the spine and muscles and protect against further damage and injury. These natural supplements do not carry the negative side effects and health risks that prescriptions and over the counter drugs carry.  Some supplements to consider are:

Astaxanthin – An oil-soluble antioxidant, Astaxanthin has very potent anti-inflammatory properties. This makes it a good natural alternative to pain medications such as NSAIDs and others that are aimed at controlling pain and reducing swelling and inflammation. As we grow in our knowledge and understanding of back pain, we are able to uncover more and more natural approaches and options that can bring the relief we want and need without the side effects that we want to avoid from harmful chemical based medications.

Ginger – This delicious spice is a powerful anti-inflammatory plant that has been used for centuries for a range of health and medical applications. Ginger also has pain relief and stomach-settling properties which are wonderful for fighting back pain and the nausea and upset stomach that often accompanies a bad flare-up. Ginger is easy to add to the diet and helps regulate many aspects of pain, inflammation, and discomfort often associated with back pain.

Curcumin – A compound that gives the spice turmeric its therapeutic properties, Curcumin is a powerful antioxidant and helps encourage health and healing of damaged tissue. It has been shown to help lower levels of pain, especially those associated with bone and joint disorders such as arthritis, osteoporosis, and vertebral fractures.

Cayenne cream – Also known as capsaicin cream, the spice in the hot muscle rub comes from chili peppers. It alleviates pain by depleting the body’s supply of substance P, the special component of nerve cells that allows them to transmit and receive pain signals to and from the brain. The heat of the spice also helps relax tight and sore muscles and also boosts blood flow to the area which can help speed healing of damaged areas, specially of muscles and other soft tissues.

Boswellia – Known among essential oil gurus as “Indian frankincense,” this herb has been used as a medicinal treatment thanks to is anti-inflammatory properties for centuries. It helps improve cell regeneration and boost healing factors for a range of injuries and cellular damage. Many have found it to help relieve pain in general but especially for patients with back pain caused by rheumatoid arthritis, disc disorders, and muscle tears and strains. It is amazing how much the treatments for back pain have grown now that man is looking to nature for more answers.

Bromelain – Found in pineapples, the enzyme found within this element is a natural anti-inflammatory powerhouse that is finally being utilized more fully by homeopathic and chiropractic caregivers. When you are more attune to the issues involving the back and have a better understanding of back pain you can see how
treatments for back pain often are best addressed with a natural approach. From the foods we eat each day to the medications we take there are easier ways to address back pain without all the harmful chemicals.

Cetyl myristoleate (CMO) – CMO is an oil found in proteins, especially fish, and it acts as a “joint lubricant” as well as an anti-inflammatory compound. Eating healthy fatty oils from fish like salmon and tuna can help boost your CMO levels and improve joint health, including the vertebrae and the spongy discs and connective tissues that hold the spine together. There are creams and topical ointments available that have CMO in them so an additional dose and be delivered to targeted problem areas to improve joint health in this way as well.

There are many other natural elements, minerals, vitamins, and nutrients that can help you fight off back pain and that can help you boost your overall health and wellbeing while keeping your spine and nervous system in proper working order. Adding some of these natural options to your current pain management, exercise, diet, and self-care routine could help fill in any gaps that might exist and bring you even greater levels of pain control and management. Remember, the goal is pain relief but it also needs to include addressing the cause of the pain- whether that is a lack of certain nutrients, imbalances within a system, or a physical injury or a biological disorder. Addressing the symptoms and the causes are the best way t truly begin understanding back pain and to get relief from your pain through treatments for back pain.

 Help You Need When You Need It Most

Here at Tree of Life Chiropractic, we know that back pain can be long lasting and permanent or it can come and go and be tied to certain activities. Whether you suffer from chronic back pain or acute back pain and regardless of whether you have upper or lower back pain, we are here to help you discover the combination of treatments and lifestyle changes that will work for you! Millions of Americans deal with some degree of back pain and if you are one of them, you do not need to put up with the pain and expense of a bad any longer.  Our goal is to help improve your understanding of back pain and help you find the right treatments for back pain that will get you back up and on your way quickly and easily. When it comes to understanding back pain, and getting more options for effective treatments you want to keep all of your options open and often times it will take a combination of different treatments to get the relief you need. We will work with you to help you recover from any injury or condition that is affecting your back and to help relieve your symptoms while also helping guard against future injuries and problems. For more information and to set up your consultation appointment, contact us today! Back pain is among the most commonly reported health issue today and millions deal with it every day- but today could be the day you stop being one of them! Call us or stop by our office today and let us show you the Tree of Life Chiropractic difference!

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