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BLOG: June 2007
Causes of back pain
How to make your back pain go away, for good? That is much easier to accomplish if you know what is causing it. But what is it that causes back pain? You've probably been told it is caused by degenerating disc, or bone, or both; this may be preceded by an old or fresh injury, spinal misalignment or nutritional/metabolic deficiency, or imbalance. There could be more than one cause, and you need them pinpointed and addressed.
However, most doctors won't spend much time thinking about what was it that caused your back to become bad. Let alone doing something in that direction. As the recent Time Magazine article by Sanjay Gupta, M.D. puts it, you are likely to be offered a choice between two "fixes": standard conservative treatment - basically rest, back exercises, plus anti-inflammatory medications "as needed" - or surgery.
According to a recent study cited in the article, a year of conservative treatment resulted in "considerable recovery" for nearly all participants. Your treatment choice #2, according to the article, is back surgery. It costs more, may not succeed and can have side effects, but if it does work, it gives you relief much sooner.
The third available option is to knock yourself out with medications: pain-killers, muscle relaxants, spinal infusions - there's lots to choose from. And if you are a bit more liberal, you can give acupuncture or chiropractor a shot.
Can we dig little dipper into this? It is certainly worth it, considering that
one out of every
five Americans will suffer back pain
(yes, that makes some 60 million people), and as many as 3 in 4 will have some kind of chronic back pain during the lifetime. Why doesn't back pain go away, as any normal pain does?
The answer is obvious: something is preventing healing. Something that causes inflammation that goes on and on, or discs and bone to degenerate. Now we are going to where very few MDs go: your nutritional status and food sensitivities.
Contrary to what one might think, most often
it is not the bone, or disc degeneration itself causing the pain.
The chemistry of pain is put in motion by one or more of these three triggers: spasms of irritated back muscles - which can be worsened by magnesium deficiency - tissue inflammation, and pressure on the sciatic nerve. Four out of five bad backs ache due to muscle spasm, caused by bone/disc deformities and/or inflammation, often combined with some degree of postural pressure or spinal misalignment.
As always, genetic base does play a role, but most often it is not a major factor.
Is there some way, other than medications, to address the inflammation and disc/bone deterioration, which are the two main triggers of muscle spasm and back pain? There sure is: magnesium alone can make significant difference. However, for most people it won't be enough to eliminate the problem, since the spasms most often are not caused primarily by magnesium deficiency. It will take addressing the cause of inflammation and disc/bone deterioration. And that, for most people, will require either
hydrating the spine, or eliminating nightshades from the diet.
Sufficient water content is crucial for the disc to function properly. Dehydrated body has higher priorities for water distribution. As a result, spinal discs lose water content, flatten and bulge out. The one that bears most of the weight - the 5th lumbar disc - is affected more than any other. Any signs of spinal deterioration - including sciatic pain - is likely to build up around it. It can cause repeated episodes of excruciating pain, yet it can be quickly remedied by supplying the body with needed water2.
The nightshade family of plants (Solonaceae) - potato, tomato, peppers, eggplant and tobacco - contain alkaloids, potentially toxic substances capable of accumulating in the body and, by blocking the enzyme action, causing damage to joints, bones, heart and pretty much any body part or function14. While other food and chemical sensitivities are frequently part of the problem, practical study by Dr. Childers established that in 3 out of 4 people suffering any kind of pain - including back pain -
the main culprit is alkaloid toxicity.
The inflammation caused by it can trigger pain in your back.
Nightshade-free diet for up to three months is needed to rule this possibility out although, if nightshade alkaloids are the main culprit, relief can come much sooner. The only problem is that the use of nightshades is so widespread that it may be quite difficult to avoid them - and even minute quantities can cause the pain.
And, very often, there is more than one factor triggering back pain. One real-life diagnosis, for instance, determined the individual's back pain triggers to be food related (red meat, wine and nightshades sensitivity), nutritional (magnesium and manganese deficiency) and chemical (formaldehyde and natural gas sensitivity). Eliminating the triggers eliminated back pain14.
Now, nine out of ten doctors you might turn to for help don't even think about any of these rather common triggers of back pain (as doctors, in general, are not trained to look for the actual cause of a health problem). Since addressing these causes don't require drugs or surgery, they are not a part of the "official" medical treatment for bad back, even if they have been proven to work. However, for those who want to find and eliminate the actual causes of their back pain, they are definitely something to consider.