Managing and Reducing Back Pain

Here are some tips from Dr. John Chen at Lotus Integrative Medicine about how to manage your back pain after getting acupuncture and adding some anti-inflammatory herbs like corydalis, turmeric, peony root into the mix.

NUTRITION
• Eat a diet with a wide variety of vegetables and fruits, and whole grain cereals to ensure a complete supply of nutrients for the bones, nerves, and muscles.
• Adequate intake of calcium is essential for the repair and rebuilding of bones, tendons, cartilage, and connective tissues.
• Fresh pineapple is recommended as it contains bromelain, an enzyme that is reduces inflammation. If the fresh pineapple causes stomach upset, eat it after meals.
• To relieve cramps and spasms, eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, especially those high in potassium, such as bananas and oranges. Also drink an adequate amount of warm water.
• Adequate intake of minerals, such as calcium and potassium, is essential for pain management. Deficiency of these minerals will lead to spasms, cramps, and tense muscles.
• Avoid red meat and seafood as they contain high levels of uric acid, which puts added strain on the kidneys.
• Avoid cold beverages, ice cream, caffeine, sugar, tomatoes, milk, and dairy products.

LIFESTYLE INSTRUCTIONS
• Patients are advised to bend and use their legs (instead of bending from the waist or back) when lifting heavy objects.
• Patients are encouraged to wear clothing that covers their backs completely and to tuck their shirts into their pants or skirts to avoid any wind exposure to their backs, which will further aggravate the condition.
• Stretching and strengthening exercises for the back muscles are essential for long term recovery. Strengthening the abdominal muscles is also beneficial to reduce strain on the lower back.
• Mild exercise such as swimming, yoga, or Qi Gong is recommended on a regular basis.
• Proper balance of work and rest is very important. While sitting, make sure the back is straight and the elbows and knees are bent at a 90 degree angle. Take breaks at least once every hour to alleviate pressure on the vertebrae and discs.
• Adequate rest is essential to recovery. It is wise to review sleeping postures to ensure that the back is appropriately supported and relaxed.
• Hot baths with Ai Ye (Folium Artemisiae Argyi) or Epsom salts help to relax tense muscles, invigorate blood flow and draw toxins from tissues. Rest and relax in the bath for about 15 to 30 minutes, but avoid becoming over-tired from the heat. Mix about 2 to 3 tablespoons of Ai Ye (Folium Artemisiae Argyi) extract powder in the hot water each time.
• Firm beds are recommended over soft ones for patients with back pain.