Backache - 2
Agatha M. Thrash, M.D.
The major cause of backache is weakness of the muscles which keep the back in proper alignment. Overweight is the most predisposing factor in backache since the muscles are not strong enough to carry the weight of the excess body fat. Since body fat can infiltrate between the muscle fibers, being overweight further reduces the strength of the muscles, increasing the likelihood of having backache. Women are more likely to have backache than men, but men in sedentary occupations, or those who strain their back through heavy use, should be careful to avoid improper methods of lifting. Women and others with weak backs can help the matter significantly by proper outdoor exercise which strengthens the muscles, tightens the ligaments, and realigns the structures of the low back so that they can be comfortable.
Since emotional tension is a common cause of backache, one suffering with a backache should immediately search his life for tension-producing factors. Sometimes a living situation at home is the culprit. Sometimes a problem involving work causes unequal tensions on back muscles and produces a backache.
Simple overeating is another major cause of backache. The presence of heavy chemicals in the blood decreases the ability of the blood to enter capillaries of the muscles supporting the joints, which reduces the oxygen content and nourishment of the structures of the low back, and causes an increase in tension from lack of oxygen and nutrients which could provide a comfortable situation for the back, and allows toxic products to build up in the back, irritating the nerves, and the signal goes to the brain that something is wrong. Many a person with backache will find that it disappears promptly upon fasting or adopting a diet of fruit and whole grain bread for about two days, eating only at regular mealtimes and avoiding late evening foods altogether.
Constitutional factors may cause backache, as they may decrease the flow of blood to the back. Such things as constipation, menstruation, pregnancy, pelvic tumors, and hypoglycemia may all produce backache.
The lower back is not the only area subject to pain, but the upper back, shoulders, and neck can be the source of much pain. Usually these pains are positional or due to some previous injury. To correct the pain the muscles need to be strengthened and the posture needs to be corrected; especially is it important that the working position be comfortable.
Exercises that strengthen the back are very simple. Walking, gardening, and housekeeping activities strengthen the back.
For the acute back strain, an eight-minute ice massage over the painful area and six inches of surrounding tissues can frequently cure the problem if applied during the first 72 hours. For this treatment you may use ice cubes or a simple 6 ounce block of ice made by freezing water in a paper cup. After 72 hours, use alternating heat and cold using hot towels for three minutes, followed by ice cold towels for 30 seconds, repeating the changes four to five times. These treatments increase the circulation to the back, cause reduction of pain, and tend to increase the healing of inflamed tissues.
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