Back pain is the second most common ailment in the United States – only headache (according to some, the common cold) is more common. Fortunately, most occurrences of low back pain go away within a few days. Others take much longer to resolve or lead to more serious conditions.
Most low back pain is triggered by some combination of overuse, muscle strain, and injury to the muscles, ligaments, and discs that support the spine. Over time muscle strain can lead to an overall imbalance in the spinal structure. This leads to a constant tension on the muscles, ligaments, bones, and discs, making the back more prone to injury or re-injury.
There are numerous possible interventions to low back pain, as noted later in this article. The herb, Solomon’s Seal, however, has demonstrated significant effectiveness as well and should be considered in any therapeutic intervention. Let’s first review the issues you may have with low back pain.
Acute or Short-term Low Back Pain
Acute pain lasts from a few days to a few weeks. Most acute back pain is mechanical in nature – the result of trauma to the lower back (or a disorder such as arthritis). Pain from trauma may result from improper body mechanics or an accident like a car crash, or other non-traumatic activities (gardening or working around the house, lifting groceries or a child, even sneezing, coughing hard, bowl straining, etc) that are often preventable. Many work-related or recreational/sports-related injuries are caused or aggravated by stressors such as heavy lifting, contact stress, vibration, repetitive motion, overstretching, and awkward posture. Obesity, smoking, weight gain during pregnancy, stress, poor physical condition, posture inappropriate for the activity being performed, and poor sleeping position also may contribute to low back pain. A combination of exercises that don’t jolt or strain the back, maintaining correct posture, and lifting objects properly can help prevent injuries.
Symptoms may range from muscle ache to shooting or stabbing pain, limited flexibility and/or range of motion (stiffness), spasm, or an inability to stand straight. Occasionally, pain felt in one part of the body may “radiate” from a disorder or injury elsewhere in the body. This is why lower back pain can be felt down the legs and into the calf and foot. Some acute pain syndromes can become more serious if left untreated.
Chronic pain is measured by duration – pain that persists for more than three months is considered chronic. It is often progressive and the cause can be difficult to determine. Causes to consider are: degenerative conditions such as arthritis or disc disease, osteoporosis or other bone diseases, viral infections, irritation to joints and discs, or congenital abnormalities in the spine. Additionally, scar tissue created when the injured back heals itself does not have the strength or flexibility of normal tissue. Buildup of scar tissue from repeated injuries eventually weakens the back and can lead to more serious injury.
Warning Signs for Low Back Pain
A sure sign that low back pain will follow is stiffness. Muscle Imbalance is one of the main contributors to Low Back Pain. This means that the muscles associated with the low back become either tight, weak or a combination of the two. Therefore, if you are already beginning to feel some stiffness in and around your low back/buttock region, there is a reasonable chance it is a result of some tight muscles. They will need to be stretched if you wish to decrease the chances of developing low back pain.
This may seem obvious, but people will typically report that it feels as if their back isn’t very strong! This is usually when they have been standing for a while or maybe when lifting. What will normally happen, especially when standing or walking, is that it will feel like the arch in the lower back is being accentuated i.e. it will feel as if the low back is arching more towards the front of their stomach.
Shooting Pains Down the Leg
This referred pain may be caused by the compression or irritation of the Sciatic Nerve(s), the condition of which is called Sciatica. This is a very common health complaint.
The sciatic nerves are the largest and longest nerves of the body reaching about the size of your thumb in diameter and running down the back of each leg. Each of the two sciatic nerves is formed by four or five nerves branching off the spinal cord and running down the back of each leg. When these nerves are irritated or affected by the inflammation of nearby soft tissues, doctors refer to this as sciatica.
One of the most common causes of sciatic leg pain is the Vertebral Subluxation Complex. It can be accompanied by the bulging or herniation of the soft pulpy discs that separate each spinal bone. This can irritate or put pressure on the sciatic nerve roots as they leave the spinal cord. The result can be an intense pain shooting down either or both legs.
Pain is caused when the sciatic nerve roots are irritated, scraped, twisted, stretched or pinched as they exit the spine. Causes of the impairment may be chemical, physical or the emotional stress of everyday living. A full-blown sciatic flare-up can involve the entire sciatic nerve path resulting in symptoms of lower back pain, burning, cramping or numbness that radiates into the thighs, legs, ankles, feet and toes. Pain may also be limited to various points along the nerve such as the buttocks, knee area and calf.
In the past, treatment has involved pain medications, muscle relaxers, physical therapy, chiropractic adjustment, and even surgery (which is only about 60% successful).
Effective Ways to Treat Lower Back Pain (Traditional, but effective)
- Using a heating pad or hot water bottle.
- Resting in bed on a firm mattress. Often it helps to lie on your back with your knees raised with a pillow beneath. However, some people prefer to lie on their side with their knees bent.
- Taking aspirin, ibuprofen, or other anti-inflammatory medications; muscle relaxants; or other pain medications if recommended by your healthcare provider. Adults aged 65 years and older should not take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicine for more than 7 days without their healthcare provider’s approval.
- Having your back massaged by a trained person.
- Having traction, if recommended by your provider.
- Wearing a belt or corset to support your back.
- Do the exercises recommended by your provider. Your provider may also have you go to a physical therapist for rehabilitation and other treatments.
- Talking with a counselor, if your back pain is related to tension caused by emotional problems.
- Practice good posture. Stand with your head up, shoulders straight, chest forward, weight balanced evenly on both feet, and pelvis tucked in.
- Lose weight if you are overweight
- Try putting an ice pack wrapped in a towel on your back for 20 minutes, 1 to 4 times per day. Set an alarm to avoid frostbite from using the ice pack too long.
- If your back muscles are stiff, try an electric heating pad on a low setting (or a hot water bottle wrapped in a towel to avoid burning yourself) for 20 to 30 minutes. Don’t let the heating pad get too hot, and don’t fall asleep with it. You could get a burn.
- Put a pillow under your knees when you are lying down.
- Sleep without a pillow under your head.
Ways to Reduce Lower Back Strain During Activity
- Don’t push with your arms when you move a heavy object. Turn around and push backwards so the strain is taken by your legs.
- Whenever you sit, sit in a straight-backed chair and hold your spine against the back of the chair.
- Bend your knees and hips and keep your back straight when you lift a heavy object.
- Avoid lifting heavy objects higher than your waist.
- Hold packages you carry close to your body, with your arms bent.
- Use a footrest for one foot when you stand or sit in one spot for a long time. This keeps your back straight.
- Bend your knees when you bend over.
- Sit close to the pedals when you drive and use your seat belt and a hard backrest or pillow.
- Lie on your side with your knees bent when you sleep or rest. It may help to put a pillow between your knees.
- Put a pillow under your knees when you sleep on your back.
- Raise the foot of the bed 8 inches to discourage sleeping on your stomach unless you have other problems that require that you keep your head elevated.
Note: The above tips were developed by Phyllis G. Cooper, RN, MN and published by RelayHealth, 2009.
The Alternative Value of Acupuncture & Kidney Intervention
Experts especially use acupuncture for chronic low back pain. Researchers in the U.K. asked 50 top experts in the field of lower back pain to complete a questionnaire designed to gather opinion on the effectiveness of complementary methods of treating this very common condition. When analyzed, the results suggest that for low back pain, most experts considered acupuncture most effective.
Needling acupuncture points is known to stimulate the nervous system to release chemicals in the muscles, spinal cord and brain. These chemicals change the experience of pain, and trigger the release of other chemicals and hormones which influence the body’s own healing mechanisms.
In Chinese Medicine, 95 % of low back problems are occasioned by low kidney energy, meaning that there is a shortage of energy flowing in the back area through kidney & bladder meridians, causing stiffness or pain that could eventually irradiate in the leg area known as sciatica. Other symptoms related to kidney energy such as fatigue, incontinence, headaches, sinusitis and upper neck & shoulder pain can also be alleviated at the same time within the same treatment.
Acupuncture, properly administrated for lower back pain, can open up the flow of energy in muscles, ligaments, the spinal cord and brain, nerves and the kidneys, liver and bladder.
Herbal tonics and teas may also be effective in “kidney flushing”. Teasel tincture, widely acclaimed in the treatment of Lyme Disease, is very effective on the kidneys.
HOW SOLOMON’S SEAL HELPS LOW BACK PAIN
Effect on Soft Connective Tissues
The soft connective tissues surrounding muscles, tendons and ligaments that are damaged/injured often results in inflammation, swelling and edema. The fascinating observation about Solomon’s Seal’s effectiveness is that the quality of repair to injured tissue leaves little or no trace/evidence of scar tissue. In the case of broken bones, for example, soft connective tissues may still be out of balance with the surrounding tissues of joints, even after surgery or restoration. These types of problems are usually the result of excessive out-of-balance tensions on the muscles, tendons, and ligaments. This causes unnatural pressures and therefore bony overgrowth into the joint spaces and surrounding tissues. If you have arthritic conditions in your lower back, this is what is happening. Solomon’s Seal appears to “read” and correct these tension inbalances, thereby allowing the body to re-absorb the bone spurs.
Not only does Solomon’s Seal help to calcify and strengthen broken and normal bones, but it also decalcifies unhealthy deposits of Osteoarthritis in the joint spaces.
Effect on Inflammation
The allantoin in Solomon’s Seal acts as an anti-inflammatory that is good for joints, muscles, ligaments and tendons. It soothes irritated or damaged tissues and reduces general inflammation. The mucilaginous qualities help to soothe and ease gastric irritation. The value of Solomon’s Seal cannot be underestimated in those instances where NSAIDs (aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen) damage the lining (or mucosa) of the digestive tract primarily in the stomach and upper intestine. This damage can result in an ulcer or intestinal bleeding.
Enhancing Solomon’s Seal’s Effectiveness with other Herbs
In our intense study and observation of Solomon’s Seal’s palliative effects on various conditions, we have been inspired to integrate its use with other esteemed healing herbs. In our Cortesia Solomon’s Seal Tincture, Formula #1 – Arthritis & Joint Repair, we have combined it with Gravel Root and Pleurisy Root. Gravel Root is specifically indicated for arthritis for it brings minerals into and out of solution, hence its use as a remedy to dissolve and remove deposits in joints. Pleurisy Root is indicated in cases of acute inflammation, arthritis, bursitis, lack of lubrication, or clicking in the joints.
Our Cortesia Solomon’s Seal Tincture, Formula #3 – Cartilage & Tissue Repair is integrated with the highly respected Horsetail plant. Horsetail’s high silica content helps to rebuild damaged cartilage and structures. It strengthens connective tissue, bones, cartilage, mucous membranes, arteries, skin, and other tissue.
Of course, straight Solomon’s Seal works to harmonize, feed, lubricate, and tighten or loosen (as needed) tendons, ligaments, attachments, and joints. It is also a valuable connective tissue anti-inflammatory, and is known to help moderate the symptoms of osteoarthritis. It has many other benefits described in other articles on our website and blog.
THE 3-STEP METHOD:
COMBINING A LINIMENT, SALVE & TINCTURE FOR DEEP HEALING
When using herbal interventions or products such as a tincture, salve or liniment, we believe that a 3-Step Method is the best way to address many of the types of acute and chronic injuries mentioned above. (Note: This approach should never take the place of other practical strategies such as rest, support or elevation of injury, increasing water intake, adjustment of diet and nutrition, etc.).
Apply Cortesia Quick-Relief Liniment topically several times daily, as needed, in area(s) where pain or discomfort is occurring. Apply morning, afternoon, and evening OR before and after periods of activity and again before bed. This will provide short-term relief so that certain activities are less painful or so that you can get to sleep. It is important to firmly rub the liniment for several minutes to stimulate blood circulation in the effected tissue or joint area. This works very well for arthritic conditions or joint issues to increase flexibility. Of course, use lighter pressure for a sprain, bruise, very sore muscle, or painful area. To learn more about the effectiveness of liniments, read our two articles on this Blog or our website (www.solomonsseal.net)
Apply Cortesia Acute and Chronic Injury Salve externally to injured area twice daily, morning and evening (apply after the liniment). Wrap or bandage as needed to protect clothing. This is an important long-term method of healing for strains, sprains, aches, symptoms of arthritis, damaged muscles, tendons, ligaments, joints, etc. It perfectly compliments the liniment.
Note: After applying a liniment or salve, it is very useful to simply lay your hand(s) lightly over the affected area for a few minutes. This form of “touch healing therapy” is therapeutic (see our article Solomon’s Seal and the Healing Effects of Touch to understand more). You can feel the warm or cooling sensation of your injury; you can also mentally visualize healing currents.
Consider taking Cortesia Solomon’s Seal Tincture internally several times daily. Solomon’s Seal works to harmonize, feed, lubricate, and tighten or loosen (as needed) tendons, ligaments, muscles, attachments, and joints. It is a valuable connective tissue anti-inflammatory, and is known to help moderate the symptoms of osteoarthritis, repetitive use injuries, and connective tissue damage. Depending on your injury or condition, one of our Solomon’s Seal Formulas (described elsewhere on this site) may be appropriate — for example, the #1 Arthritis & Joint Repair, the #2 Bone-Building & Bone Repair, the #3 Cartilage & Tissue Repair, the #4 Pain & Tension Relief, or the #6 All-in-One Deep Healing Formula.
For further information and available products, please visit our website: http://www.solomonsseal.net.