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Backache
Herbal & Home Remedies Herbal Remedies Home Remedies

AgrimonyBack pain (also known as "dorsopathy") is pain felt in the back that may originate from the muscles, nerves, bones, joints or other structures in the spine.

The pain may be have a sudden onset or it can be a chronic pain, it can be felt constantly or intermittently, stay in one place or refer or radiate to other areas. It may be a dull ache, or a sharp or piercing or burning sensation. The pain may be felt in the neck (and might radiate into the arm and hand), in the upper back, or in the low back, (and might radiate into the leg or foot), and may include symptoms other than pain, such as weakness, numbness or tingling.

Back pain is one of humanity's most frequent complaints. In the U.S., acute low back pain (also called lumbago) is the fifth most common reason for all physician visits. About nine out of ten adults experience back pain at some point in their life, and five out of ten working adults have back pain every year.

The spine is a complex interconnecting network of nerves, joints, muscles, tendons and ligaments, and all are capable of producing pain. Large nerves that originate in the spine and go to the legs and arms can make pain radiate to the extremities.

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Symptoms

Back pain can be a sign of a serious medical problem, although this is not most frequently the underlying cause:

  • Typical warning signs of a potentially life-threatening problem are bowel and/or bladder incontinence or progressive weakness in the legs. Patients with these symptoms should seek immediate medical care.

  • Severe back pain (such as pain that is bad enough to interrupt sleep) that occurs with other signs of severe illness (e.g. fever, unexplained weight loss) may also indicate a serious underlying medical condition, such as cancer.

  • Back pain that occurs after a trauma, such as a car accident or fall, should also be promptly evaluated by a medical professional to check for a fracture or other injury.

  • Back pain in individuals with medical conditions that put them at high risk for a spinal fracture, such as osteoporosis or multiple myeloma, also warrants prompt medical attention.

In general, however, back pain does not usually require immediate medical intervention. The vast majority of episodes of back pain are self-limiting and non-progressive. Most back pain syndromes are due to inflammation, especially in the acute phase, which typically lasts for two weeks to three months.

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Causes

 

Transient back pain is likely one of the first symptoms of influenza.

Muscle strains (pulled muscles) are commonly identified as the cause of back pain, as are muscle imbalances. Pain from such an injury often remains as long as the muscle imbalances persist. The muscle imbalances cause a mechanical problem with the skeleton, building up pressure at points along the spine, which causes the pain.

Another cause of acute low back pain is a Meniscoid Occlusion. The more mobile regions of the spine have invaginations of the synovial membrane that act as a cushion to help the bones move over each other smoothly. The synovial membrane is well supplied with blood and nerves. When it becomes pinched or trapped it can cause sudden severe pain. The pinching causes the membrane to become inflamed, causing greater pressure and ongoing pain. Symptoms include severe low back pain that may be accompanied by muscle spasm, pain with walking, concentration of pain to one side, and no radiculopathy (radiating pain down buttock and leg). Relief should be felt with flexion (bending forward), exacerbated with extension (bending backward).

When back pain lasts more than three months, or if there is more radicular pain (sciatica) than back pain, a more specific diagnosis can usually be made.

There are several common causes of back pain: for adults under age 50, these include spinal disc herniation and degenerative disc disease or isthmic spondylolisthesis; in adults over age 50, common causes also include osteoarthritis (degenerative joint disease) and spinal stenosis, trauma, cancer, infection, fractures, and inflammatory disease. Non-anatomical factors can also contribute to or cause back pain, such as stress, repressed anger, or depression. Even if there is an anatomical cause for the pain, if depression is present it should also be treated concurrently.

Back pain is frequently experienced when no underlying anatomical problem is apparent. Some believe this pain to be caused by tension myositis syndrome.

Folk traditions call for Epsom salt baths to relieve pain. Epsom salt was reputed to have magical healing properties. Epsom salt is primarily magnesium sulfate and has been used medicinally in Europe for more than three hundred years. The heat of an Epsom salt bath can increase circulation and reduce the swelling of arthritis, and the magnesium can be absorbed through the skin. Magnesium is one of the most important minerals in the body, participating in at least 300 enzyme systems. Magnesium has both anti-inflammatory and anti-arthritic properties.

Directions: Fill a bathtub with water as hot as can be tolerated. Add 2 cups of Epsom salts. Bathe for thirty minutes, adding hot water if necessary to keep the bath water warm. 

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Home Remedies

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Herbal Remedies

For the treatment of spasmodic pain, both cramp bark (Viburnum opulus) and black haw (Viburnum prunifolium) have been used in American Indian medicine. The Indians used cramp bark to treat both menstrual pain and muscle spasm. Cramp bark and black haw were also used hisatorically for arthritic or menstrual pain. The plants contain the antispasmodic and muscle-relaxing compounds esouletin and scopoletin. The antispasmodic constituents are best extracted with alcohol. So use tinctures rather than teas. Black haw also contains aspirin- like compounds.

Directions: Mix equal parts of cramp bark and black haw tinctures. Take between 1 and 4 droppers every two or three hours for up to three days.

Willow bark (Salix alba) was used for treating pain by the ancient Greeks more than 2,400 years ago. American Indians throughout North America used it as a pain reliever even before the arrival of the European colonists. Investigation of salicin, a pain-relieving constituent in willow bark, led to the discovery of aspirin in 1899. The most important active constituent is salicin, but other anti-inflammatory constituents also appear in the willow bark. 

Peppermint - The compounds menthol and camphor are found in many over-the-counter backache medications. They are chemicals that can help ease the muscle tightness that contributes to many bad backs. Menthol is a natural constituent of plants in the mint family, particularly peppermint and spearmint, although the aromatic oils of all the other mints contain it as well. Camphor occurs in spike lavender, hyssop and coriander. 

Ginger is used to treat various sorts of pain in the folk medicine of China and India. It is an important pain medication in contemporary Arabic medicine. Ginger contains 12 different aromatic anti-inflammatory compounds, including some with mild aspirin-like effects.

Directions: Cut a fresh ginger root (about the size of your thumb) into thin slices. Place the slices in a quart of water. Bring to a boil, and then simmer on the lowest possible heat for thirty minutes in a covered pot. Let cool for thirty more minutes. Strain and drink 1/2 to 1 cup, sweetened with honey, for taste if needed.

Drinking rosemary tea for pain is a remedy used in the contemporary Hispanic folk medicine of Mexico and the Southwest. Its leaf also contains four anti-inflammatory substances---camosol, oleanolic acid, rosmarinic acid, and ursolic acid. Carnosol acts on the same anti-inflammatory pathways as both steroids and aspirin; rosmarinic acid acts through at least two separate anti-inflammatory biochemical pathways; and ursolic acid, which makes up about 4 percent of the plant by weight, has been shown in animal trials to have anti-arthritic effects.

Directions: Put 1/2 ounce of rosemary leaves in a 1-quart canning jar and fill the jar with boiling water. Cover tightly and let it stand for thirty minutes. Drink a cup as hot as possible before going to bed, and have another cupful in the morning before breakfast.

Various species of angelica have been used to quiet pain by American Indians throughout North America. The European species (Angelica archangelica) and the Chinese species (Angelica sinensis) have been used in the same way in the folk medicine of Europe and China respectively. The Chinese species is sometimes sold in North America under the names dang gui or dong quai. All species contain anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, and anodyne (pain- relieving) properties. The European species of angelica has been used in European folk medicine since antiquity, as has the Chinese species in Chinese medicine.

Directions: Place 1 tablespoon of the cut roots of either species of angelica in a pint of water and bring to a boil for two minutes in a covered pot. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, until the tea cools to room temperature. Drink the pint in 3 doses during the day.

An agrimony bath helps soothe aching muscles and joints.

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Wellness Program

Avoid any sudden strain. If you are going to have to bend in any way make sure that your back is not cold and stiff. Exercise regularly to loosen up the back and strengthen its supporting abdominal muscles. Stretching your back helps loosen it and prevent injury.

If you sit for long periods, make sure your back is properly supported. Place a small roll in the arch of your lower spine (at waist height) to maintain its normal S-curve. Simply a towel, or cushion rolled up will do.

When lifting, never bend down from the waist, lower and raise yourself at the knees. Keep your back straight and hold the object close to your body. If you are going to carry anything any distance that may be heavy, make sure that your way is clear. You do not want to be dodging around things when you are carrying.

Balance items you carry evenly on both sides of your body and hold them close or use a knapsack.

Sleep on your back if possible, with knees raised on a pillow. If you sleep on your side, a pillow between the knees is a big help.

If you need a firm bed, place a board between the mattress and the box spring.

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