South of Zen

LIVING WITH BACK PAIN AND BODY ACHES

If you are someone that has ever dealt with a sports injury or unfortunate car accident, even a physical deformity – you may know what it entails to live with permanent daily pain.

 

  

I am someone who knows all too well what it feels like to have lower back pain CONSISTENTLY that pretty much never alleviates, and when it does, it’s only for a few short moments. 

Today felt like as good a day as any to begin the discussion on pain management with you lovely people, and talk through methods I have stumbled across to deal with what may be a forever problem in my own life.

 

 

Common Spine Problems

Abnormal Curvature – Your spine’s natural curves help balance your body, however, if the curves become too pronounced, or if your spine develops a twist or an extra curve, it puts extra pressure on the vertebrae and discs. Types of abnormal curvatures include:

  • Scoliosis: a side-to-side curve in your back
  • Kyphosis:  increased curve or hump in your upper back
  • Lordosis:  increased curve in your lower back, may be referred to as Swayback
  • Degenerated Disc: used to describe changes of the spinal discs such as thinning, hardening and drying out. This can result from normal aging or wear-and-tear, but can start or accelerate because of injury, disease or unusual stress. Can further cause spinal instability.

Bulging Disc –  If the outer wall of a spinal disc weakens, it may push out, or bulge, toward the nerves. This can cause painful nerve irritation.

Herniated Disc –  If the outer wall of a spinal disc tears or ruptures, the soft material inside the disc can squeeze out and press on nearby nerves. This may cause pain, numbness or weakness in your legs or back.

Fractures – Vertebrae that crack or break can be caused by an injury, repeated stress or a condition like osteoporosis, which can make bones weak and brittle.

Instability –  Spinal instability is when adjoining vertebrae slip back and forth, or have permanently shifted out of position. This instability can be caused by a damaged spinal disc, a bone injury, arthritis in the facet joints, or just something you were born with. The slippage can irritate the bone, disc, spinal cord and nerves.

Stenosis –  Stenosis is a narrowing of the spinal canal. Stenosis can press on the spinal cord and nerves and cause pain. 

Nerve Problems – These can cause pain, numbness, weakness and numerous other problems throughout your body.

Some Information Taken From Rose Medical Center – Denver, CO

  

 

Unfortunately I am on the list of those who have a slightly messed up spine naturally, defined as abnormal curvature of the spine. While I do not know the pain of suffering from advanced scoliosis or some of the other heart breaking ailments on the above list, I do still deal with an abnormal curvature that throws the base of my spine off a few degrees from the average body design.

 

 

Physical therapy has helped with some of the pain, but consistent treatment is expensive and time consuming. And while most Americans are feeling the weight of the cost of healthcare, many of us are moving towards at home solutions to alleviate our aches and ailments.

 

 

Here are some cost effective solutions I have found to utilize in my own life that you may benefit from as well:

 

  • Heating pads – though a simple solution, one that is quite effective! Heat is not only used during physical therapy for a multitude of injuries, it is something that almost everyone has easy access to.
  • If you are going the route of a plug in heating pad, I would suggest getting one that has an auto shut off. This is an added safety feature in the last few years that is definitely worth a few extra dollars to prevent a fire from beginning and to prevent from physical burns of the body if utilized for too lengthy of a period. As someone who enjoys the feeling of warmth on my lower back, I am easy to doze off into a deep sleep – and this safety feature accommodates for this.

 

  

Sunbeam pack in extra large

 

  

  • Heating packs – These are great for a short amount of heat applied to a small surface or location on the body. My two favorite packs at the moment are by Warmies and Hot-Pak. These both come with a lavender scent and can easily be warmed in the microwave in under two minutes.
  • May or may not be typing this with one of these warming my toes at the moment as well!
  • If you’re feeling crafty: These can be made frugally at home with some beans/rice and a large tube sock. Simply add the beans or rice to the sock and tie off or sew shut at the open end. Add a few drops of essential oil to the outside fabric before heating up for added relaxation! Lavender is a good choice!

 

 

Warmies pack in lavender

 

 

Hot-Pak in lavender

 

  

  • TENS units / electrotherapy devices – These are the most helpful devices I have been able to find for dealing with intense and debilitating back pain at home and on the go.
  • These units are relatively small (most can fit in a purse or can even be wrapped up to fit into a pocket) and have pads that are applied directly next to the area that needs to be stimulated for relieving pain.
  • These work well with back pain especially! Omron is the brand I currently use if you are in the market to test this out. These units are typically portable and the only maintenance required is that of replacing the pads every so often as the pads will need to remain sticky to adhere to skin, and simple replacement of AA / AAA batteries.

 

Omron Unit

  

 

  • Yoga and strengthening exercises – These may include the utilization of bands or simply your own body weight. While many physical ailments are not due to lack of back strength, for some it is as simple as continuing to monitor and care for your own back health through the utilization of strengthening techniques and exercises.
  • Resistance bands and floor exercises are what I have found to be most helpful in my own life. Though these exercises may not do a complete healing on their own, the strength of our backs is something to consider when monitoring our overall body health and working to improve individual back conditions.
  • While exercises do need to be chosen based on the individual, I have attached some of what has helped me on my at home journey to better health.

 

  

Yoga for lower back pain

 

  

Cat pose, Cow pose, Child’s pose

 

 

Resistance band pulls

 

 

 

 

Are there any tips or exercises that have worked well for you? Share in the comments below!

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