Did you know back pain can impact up to 80% of adults in their lifetime?1 The causes can vary from acute accidents to long-term wear and tear/arthritis, unstable joints, weak muscles, extra abdominal and thoracic weight, and stress. Back pain does not discriminate. It affects men and women equally, and is a leading cause of missed workdays and poor work productivity.
Naturopathic doctors help patients identify the root cause of pain, and formulate holistic and individualized approaches, resolving issues, naturally. They conduct a thorough history and examination, with possible referrals for diagnostic imaging or specialists. After identifying the cause, NDs will help you understand how to prevent and manage symptoms with things like diet, supplements, exercise, injection therapies, physical manipulation, acupuncture, stress reduction and even sleep!
While NDs take a gentler, typically non-pharmacological approach to pain management, and will usually begin with lifestyle, nutritional and herbal/natural supplement support, they recognize that some cases require pharmaceutical management and will prescribe or refer accordingly. NDs follow the therapeutic order, and pharmacological intervention or surgery is one of the last recommendations to be made – usually once all other methods have been exhausted.
Here are a few things to consider for optimal back health.
Be mindful of your body
Pay attention to how you feel. Things to think of:
- Your position at work, hobbies or the computer. Ergonomics matter. Take breaks every hour.
- Lift things correctly, and from the legs. Avoid lifting items that are too heavy for you.
- Pay attention to your posture. Ask yourself right now, are you slouching?
- Be aware of how you carry things like bags or wallets. Avoid a bag on one shoulder and a wallet in your back pocket.
Amazingly, the repetitive stress of bad posture, an overly heavy bag or misplaced wallet can take a toll over time on our physical health.
Don’t neglect your feet
A healthy back can sometimes start in our feet! Your feet set the tone for posture the rest of the way up the skeleton. Make sure you have good arch support. Some people require customized, orthotic supports for their shoes and can see benefit from adjustment to structures and function of their musculoskeletal system.
Did you know that some back pain is actually related to tight leg, back and core muscle groups, and weak abdominal muscles? If you are new to exercise, see a trainer, physical therapist, or work with your ND to help you find the best stretches and exercise plan for you.
Drink plenty of water to keep your intervertebral disks hydrated and plump. A diet high in anti-inflammatory foods is also a great place to start, as is maintaining an optimal weight.2 Excess abdominal and thoracic weight can put pressure on your disks and stress your muscles as well.
While many opinions vary on mattresses and pillows, making sure you maintain a comfortable posture while sleeping is important. Some people will find that side sleeping with knee to chest helps relieve tension on the spine. When was the last time you changed your mattress?
Naturopathic physicians are uniquely trained to use a multitude of techniques and therapies to identify the root cause of pain, and formulate holistic and individualized approaches. Click here to find an ND near you in the US and Canada.