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 Integrative Medicine: The Back and Its Problems 
 

  • Apply ice pack when inflamed for up to 15 minutes at a time. If heat (hot towels are best) ever used always finish with short cold application (half a minute).

    Ideal to use warmth before exercise and ice after.

  • If not completely bedridden SLOWLY perform gentle flexion, extension, rotation and side bending in seated position. Note which movements do not hurt and which do. Perform the painless exercises every two hours for a series of repetitions taking up to five minutes overall and cease any movement which causes more than mild discomfort.

    Recheck after a few days and reevaluate painful and painless movements and only do painless movements.

  • Sit on dining room type seat and ease forwards so that one hand grasps front leg of chair on same side, and to slowly flex forwards running hand down chair leg. Do same other side, then down back one leg of chair and then other. Abandon any movement which is painful. Seated hanging forward breathe deeply and relax for a minute or so before stretching further forward (painlessly).

    Repeat several times during day.

    9. Other Problems:
    Osteoporosis, post-natal conditions,
    Osteoporosis often involves 'splinting', especially in spinal regions. Do nothing physical, apart from ice massage!

    Post-natal conditions require evaluation as to type of dysfunction. The sooner an osteopath/chiropractor can be consulted the better.

    Trigger point pain. Many back and head/neck pains relate to trigger point (myofascial triggers) activity, which can be safely treated using methods of soft tissue manipulation.

    Self stretching and self-massage (tennis ball massage!) can be effective and safe. All self-help measures carry two warnings:

    • If it doesn't rapidly resolve the condition get professional advice and

    • If it hurts more than a little stop doing it.

    All chronic pain conditions require attention to your belief system, with modification if necessary of the attitude to the pain and your understanding of the pain process.

    Introduction of element of 'control', as well as using safe self-help measures (hydrotherapy, ice massage, self-massage, TENS etc) as well as general dietary guidance and awareness of nature and causes of pain allows for better coping skills to be gained.

    10. Pain Reduction via Diet.
    Inflammatory processes depend upon presence of substances called leukotrienes.

    The main metabolic source of these in the body is from animal fat derived arachdonic acid.

    Reduction of meat and dairy fats reduces levels of arachdonic acid and therefore of leukotrienes, thus reducing intensity of inflammation.

    This is further helped by addition of fish derived oils (eicosapentenoic acid or EPA) which is found mainly in cold water fish such as herring, sardines and salmon. EPA capsules are available at health stores and pharmacies (and on prescription if your doctor is amenable).

    Inflammatory pain processes can be further helped by taking enzyme rich substances such as pineapple bromelaine (Larkhall Laboratories. These proteolytic enzymes should be taken between meals in doses of 500 to 1000mgs daily while inflammation is present.

    Further Reading:
    Osteopathic Self-Treatment: Leon Chaitow (HarperCollins-Thorsons)
    The Back: Relief from Pain Dr.Alan Stoddard (Martin Dunitz)

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     About The Author
    Leon Chaitow ND, DO, MROA practicing naturopath, osteopath, and acupuncturist in the United Kingdom, with over forty years clinical experience, Chaitow is Editor-in-Chief, of the ...more
     
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