Dr. Carolyn Chambers Clark, Award-Winning Author and Wellness Nurse Practitioner

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Back Pain

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Back conditions can be painful and debilitating. There are many selfcare actions you can take to increase your wellness, reduce your pain, and feel better.


Self-Care actions for back pain include drinking sufficient water, eating the right foods, doing specific exercises daily, taking supplements, deep breathing, and using affirmations and learning to relax.


Much pain is due to dehydration. When you don't drink sufficient water, blood thickens, you don't digest food or eliminate waste well, muscles tighten, bones have a tendency to rub on each other and pain results. Just to perform normal daily functions, we need 8-10 glasses of water a day. If you're stressed, exercising, perspiring, etc., you need even more. It is recommended that while you're exercising, you should drink a glass of water every 15 minutes. When pain hits, immediately drink two large glasses of quality water, preferably room temperature, distilled or filtered water. . This often gives relief within minutes.

Fluids, especially water, are one of the main lubricants and cleansers in our body. Water helps bones, muscles, tendons, and body organs do their jobs while reducing pain and inflammation, by washing away acidic buildup.

Make sure your drinking water is of the highest grade possible.
That means distilled water. Even reverse osmosis machines can leave toxins in your water. You can purchase distilled water by the gallon at the grocery store or buy a distiller and distill you own water (recommended). If you distill your own water, it will not sit in a plastic container that can erode plastic into your drinking water and it will end up inside you.
If you carry water bottles to drink from, invest in some stainless steel containers.

Avoid vitamin waters and other waters that contain any kind of sugar, especially fructose, now correlated with a whole list of chronic conditions. Plain distilled water or water with a small amount of fresh lemon, pomegranate, or grape juice and stevia in it is refreshing and nutritional. Stevia is a plant with no side effects and no calories that is the perfect sweetener because it's also healing.


The old adage, You are what you eat, is true. How well and healthy can you be eating donuts, candy, cake, sodas, and fatty and fried foods? Not very, is the answer. The same is true of a healthy back. 

Here are the foods to focus on for a healthy back
: mackerel or ocean caught salmon, plain nonfat organic yogurt (use stevia to sweeten or combine with olive oil and cider vinegar for salad dressing), non GMO soy beans, brown rice and vegetables) for protein, fresh organically-grown fruits that don't contain pesticide residues (especially apples, cherries, blueberries)and vegetables (especially broccoli, cauliflower, squash), and two salads of fresh greens a day (romaine lettuce, dandelion greens, parsley, collards, etc.) and add some fresh onion slices. If you eat these foods, not only will your back feel better, you can ward off diabetes, heart conditions,  overweight and more.

Avoid These:

* white potatoes
, eggplant, tomatoes and peppers if the problem is from arthritis. Eat sweet potatoes instead. They are sweet and have many health benefits.

Here's a link that lists the health benefits of sweet potatoes http://www.care2.com/greenliving/13-health-benefits-of-sweet-potatoes.html

* meats (put undue strain on the kidneys due to uric acid, that can contribute to back pain)

*coffee (leaches out the vitamins and minerals you need to heal)  Get off coffee and caffinated drinks by drinking 1/2 coffee and 1/2 decaffinated coffee or a health food beverage called Cafix until you have weaned yourself off cafeine. If you go cold turkey, you will have probably get a headache, feel fatigued, and be irritable. Yes, caffeine is addictive and you can find it in chocolate, so beware.

*caffeinated teas (ditto)

*gravies, oils & fats (except olive & coconut oil), sugars, or processed foods stop the healing process and fill you up so you don't eat the foods you need to eat well

  Avoid in the acute pain that follows an injury or sudden movement. In this case, apply ice for the first 48 hours, then apply heat. Rest on a firm bed. When getting up, roll to your side, draw your knees up, push up to a sitting position, and stand by pushing up with your legs.

Crawling around on your hands and knees is often relaxing and comforting.

If having trouble sleeping, put a small, soft pillow between your knees to take the pressure off your back.



Warm Epsom salt baths can help, as well as castor oil hot packs (place high quality castor oil (remember, the skin is a living organ that absorbs whatever you put on it) on a cotton cloth you've dipped into hot water, place this poultice  on the sore spot, cover with a towel and use a hot water bottle to keep it hot).

Once the acute pain has subsided
, do exercises to strengthen the abdominal muslces which support the back. Sit-ups with the knees bent may be helpful. The best information I've seen appears in GOOD BYE BACK PAIN! by Dr. Leonard Faye. Together with this program I developed for my pain, the book helped me when no other professional could after I was in a major car accident, unable to sit or lie down without severe pain, and crawling around on my hands and knees. twenty-five years later, I remain pain free and continue to follow this whole body program I developed.

Find Dr. Faye's book at http://www.amazon.com/Goodbye-Back-Pain-Recovery-Prevention/dp/1419691449.

Some simple, gentle exercises to get you started:

1. Stand with your legs a foot or so apart. With fingers extended, reach up for the sky with one arm. Pull up a little higher, then a little higher, but gently. Then gently pull that arm back, keeping it straight. Pull your arm gently, aiming to pull it behind your ear, but not straining to do so. Picturing yourself easily moving your arm back can work as the genius Feldenkrais proved many times. Repeat with other arm. Inhale and exhale as you work through all these steps.

2. Make a circle above your head and then  down with one arm, bending knees so your fingers go down near your toes. Repeat several times, then go in the other direction. Repeat with the other arm.

3.  Arms straight out at your sides, pull your arms gently back as if someone is pulling your arms behind you. Pull back 4 times, then raise up arms up to shoulder level and then above head, each time pulling your arms back slowly 4 times.

4. Bend your knees and let you head and arms flop forward like a rag doll, letting your body relax and sway gently from side to side. (If you have blood pressure problems or feel light-headed, consult with your health care practitioner before adding this one, and if you do add it, hold onto a door knob or table while doing this movement.)

5.  With knees bent, slowly stand up, vertebra by vertebra until standing up straight.

For more information on this approach, go to this link:

More yoga-type exercises: http://exercisesforinjuries.com/4-back-strengthening-yoga-exercises/?utm_source=iContact&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=ExercisesForInjuries.com&utm_content=B+-+Tues+May+23 

Never carry a heavy bag over the shoulder,
Always push (never pull) heavy items,

Only wear low-heeled shoes,

Move around frequently
and never sit in the same position for more than a few minutes--even at the computer or while watching TV, sway from side to side, reach up above your head and back to your thighs up to 10 times, and get up and walk around the room(s).

Never lean forward without bending your knees.

Avoid lifting anything heavier than 20 pounds.

Sleep right.  Avoid sleeping on your stomach. Lie on your side with the legs bent and a small, soft pillow between your knees. If your mattress isn't firm enough, place a board between the box spring and the mattress. Put a small, soft pillow between your knees to reduce pressure on your spine. 


except in the acute phase after an injury.
They are meant to be used for a short period of time. They are potent chemicals that can harm your kidney and liver and/or lead to hemmorrhage if you use them longterm. If you are taking a painkiller, never drink alcohol or you may hemorrhage. Although available over the counter, aspirin, ibuprofen, and acetaminophen can kill you if you take it longterm or take too much. Drink two glasses of water instead of taking a pill or take silymarin (milk thistle) drops.

Another danger of NSAID pain killers is that they inhibit your body's natural ability to develop cartilage and collagen (the glue that holds bones and muscles in place). While pain killers inhibit this natural ability, vitamin C enhances it and provides the ingredients to make the glue.

For more on the dangers of painkillers, go to: http://www.propublica.org/article/tylenol-mcneil-fda-use-only-as-directed 


What to use instead? This program, especially water, white willow (the herb from which aspirin was developed, but that doesn't have the risk of hemorrhage), milk thistle drops without alcohol in them, vitamin C (easiest to assimilate as calcium ascorbate crystals) and lysine to prevent the pain. Dr. Christopher, a master herbalist has a herbal calcium supplement that is easy for the body to assimilate and won't cause the problems calcium pills could.

The good thing about all of these supplements is they don't have any longterm side effects if you follow the directions on the bottle, and are available at your local health food store, or they can order them, or you can find them online at http://www.iherb.com/. Use BNN951 for a discount on your first order.

Maintain a healthy weight and get moderate exercise. A lack of exercise can cause back pain. Activities that are good are swimming, cycling, walking, and rowing. Avoid: baseball, basketball, football, bowling, golf, tennis, weight-lifting.

More About Supplements
 Vitamin B may also be helpful in healing. You can buy a stress vitamin that contains vitamin B and C or you can take a B-complex capsule that contains a higher amount of vitamin B and can also assist with relaxing your body. Make sure it doesn't have anything else but these two vitamins in it. 

Better yet, eat foods high in these vitamins and minerals. Here's a link to find out more about this: http://www.epi.umn.edu/let/pubs/img/adol_appendix.pdf

The best source of vitamin D-- which research is showing is the master healer-- is the sun! Expose your face, arms and legs to 15 minutes of sun several times a week (more if you're dark-skinned).

Click on this link for  more information on vitamin D:

, an amino acid that's a precursor to protein, can help w
ith pain and so can silymarin (milk thistle; use the milk thistle glycerated drops, without alcohol in them) and white willow (this is the natural form of aspirin, without the potential for hemorrhage). Lysine and the two herbs can be found in health food stores or on the internet. Make sure you are taking a standardized version of any supplement. Check with your health care practitioner and/or call your pharmacist to make sure these are compatible with any medications you are taking.

Deep Breathing and Relaxation. 
Purchase a relaxation tape and listen to it before you get up in the morning and before you go to bed. Practice slow and deep breathing while you're seated or walking. Fill up your lungs to the top of your shoulders, hold for several seconds, then exhale and repeat. Do this slowly, up to the count of twenty. Stop if you feel light-headed; you are breathing too fast and may be hyperventilating.

Take warm baths and relax into the warmth or sit in the sauna or hot tub. Add a few drops of lavender essential oil to help with relaxation, sleep and healing. Or, try using epsom salts instead. Your skin will absorb the minerals in the salts and help your muscles relax and your bones be healthier.

If you're a senior, here's a link to safe exercise for a back problem:

Underlying Causes of Back Pain.  Many people have slipped discs, degeneration, and worse, but never have any pain. Their spinal problems are only found on autopsy.

Chronic pain is always associated with emotional issues. I worked in a psychological practice for years, working with people whose doctors had given up on or who had given up on doctors, surgery, and medications that didn't work anymore. We helped them all if they followed our suggestions.

Let's look at what pain is. It's your body's signal that something is wrong. If you don't fix it, the signal gets louder until you do something healthy or are taken to the hospital and/or die. Now is the time to fix it by treating the underlying causes. Pain killers are just that. They kill the pain, but don't fix the underlying problem.

Your body is a magnificent structure capable of healing itself if you get out of the way and treat it right. Pain killers only mask the pain, and only briefly, but the swap out is that they tax your kidneys and liver. (Milk thistle is a liver cleanser, too, so not only will it help with pain, it will cleanse your liver in the process and has no known side effects. This is in the top five of my "must-have" supplements if you want to stay well.)

Back pain is associated with lack of support--financial or emotional--in the metaphysical frame of reference. A process that's faster, less expensive, and works better than much psychotherapy is AFFIRMATIONS. The theory behind this is we all talk to ourselves in our minds and often say negative and hurtful things. To counter these negative and hurtful things, it's helpful to say or write a specific affirmation at least 20 times each day. Here are several for back conditions.

Life itself supports me
*I trust the universe.

*I freely give love and trust.

If acute pain persists longer than 72 hours, pain radiates to your legs, or unexplained weight loss occurs, consult your health care provider. If your backaches are chronic, look for a physician or nurse practitioner who specializes in backs and does not rush to recommending surgery. According to U.S. government data, only 1 percent of those who suffer from back pain benefit from surgery and only if there is a protruding disk, painful motion or misalignment of one vertebra in relation to another, or narrowing of the spine.If pain follows an injury and is accompanied by a sudden loss of bladder or bowel control, if you can't move your arms or legs, or if you feel numbness, pain, or tingling in a limb, do not move; call for medical assistance; you may have hurt your spinal cord.

Read these Sources to find out where this information came from:

According to the National Institutes of Health, silymarin has anti-inflammatory effects; inflammation can lead to pain, which silymarin may reduce: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/138.html#Action

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2011 May;96(5):1360-7. Epub 2011 Mar 16.Contributors to secondary osteoporosis and metabolic bone diseases in patients presenting with a clinical fracture.
25-hydroxyvitamin D less than 50 nmol/liter (in 63.9%), and dietary calcium intake less than 1200 mg/d (in 90.6%) were found at any age, in both sexes, after any fracture (except SECOB in men with finger and toe fractures) and at any level of bone mineral density

Horm Res Paediatr.
2010;74(5):319-27. Epub 2010 Apr 15.

Low bone mineral density and high incidences of fractures and vitamin D deficiency in 52 pediatric cancer survivors.Bilariki K, Anagnostou E, Masse V, Elie C, Grill J, Valteau-Couanet D, Kalifa C, Doz F, Sainte-Rose C, Zerah M, Mascard E, Mosser F, Ruiz JC, Souberbielle JC, Eladari D, Brugières L, Polak M.

J Biol Chem. 2010 Jun 18;285(25):19510-20. Epub 2010 Apr 21.

Ascorbate synthesis pathway: dual role of ascorbate in bone homeostasis. Gabbay KH, Bohren KM, Morello R, Bertin T, Liu J, Vogel P.

Open Orthop J. 2010 Feb 17;4:71-5.

No Higher Risk of CRPS After External Fixation of Distal Radial Fractures - Subgroup Analysis Under Randomised Vitamin C Prophylaxis.


Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Ziekenhuis Rivierenland, Pres. Kennedylaan 1, 4002 WP Tiel, The Netherlands.


Operative and conservative treatment of wrist fractures might lead to complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) type I.In our multicenter dose response study in which patients with distal radial fractures were randomly allocated to placebo or vitamin C in a daily dose of 200mg, 500mg or 1500mg during 50 days, an operated subgroup was analyzed.48 (of 427) fractures) were operated (11.2%). Twenty-nine patients (60%) were treated with external fixation, 14 patients (29%) with K-wiring according to Kapandji and five patients (10%) with internal plate fixation. The 379 remaining patients were treated with a plaster.In the operated group of patients who received vitamin C no CRPS (0/37) was seen in comparison with one case of CRPS (Kapandji technique) in the operated group who received placebo (1/11 = 9%, p=.23). There was no CRPS after external fixation.In the conservatively treated group 17 cases of CRPS (17/379 = 4.5%) occurred in comparison with one in case of CRPS in the operated group (1/48 = 2.1%, p=.71).External fixation doesn't necessarily lead to a higher incidence of CRPS in distal radial fractures. Vitamin C may also play a role in this. This subgroup analysis in operated distal radial fractures showed no CRPS occurrence with vitamin C prophylaxis.

Balch and Balch, Prescription for Nutritional Healing. 

Heal Your Body, Metaphysical Causations for Physical Illnes. Louise Hay. Hay House

Think positive and you'll be positive!

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