Pain in the lower back, often referred to as lumbago, can arise from a multitude of different causes and it can be extremely disabling. Lumbago usually affects the lumbar vertebrae, but it can also spread to surrounding muscles, discs, ligaments and nerves.
Lumbago attacks can vary in severity and duration, lasting anything from just a couple of days to becoming a chronic disability. For those that suffer with lumbago long term, the condition can seriously impact their quality of life as the symptoms can include not just back pain, but also stiffness and impaired mobility.
We will take a look at the various causes of lumbago and what natural treatments can help to not just alleviate the pain, but also prevent it in the first place.
What causes lumbago?
There’s a number of different causes of lumbago, including the following:
- Stress, anxiety and psychological distress
- Digestive and intestinal problems, such as constipation
- Muscle spasms and tension
- Curvature of the spine
- Disease or problems in the kidneys
- Bulging or herniation of the spinal discs
Some cases of lumbago will pass very quickly and may never recur. However, if your symptoms last for more than three days you should consult a medical practitioner to exclude a more serious cause. Your doctor can diagnosis lumbago by carrying out tests to examine your spine which may include an X-ray, a CT scan or an MRI scan.
Reducing inflammation with your diet
While you are in the acute stages of a lumbago attack, what you eat is very important as the wrong foods could worsen your symptoms. Certain foods such as red meat, dairy, refined flour and white sugar are known to cause or aggravate inflammation.
In direct contrast there are some foods which can play a positive role by helping to reduce the amount of inflammation in your body. These foods include:
- Green tea
- Chia seeds
- Red pepper
- Natural fruit and vegetable juices
Keeping the lumbar region of your back warm is important as it can help to ease the pain and prevent stiffness from occurring. A warm hot water bottle placed on the back, or an electric heating pad or blanket can be very soothing. If you don’t have anything to warm up your back, simply covering up with a warm fabric such as wool can also provide some comfort.
If you’re able to get into the shower, another effective method is to direct the water over the affected area, gradually turning up the heat until it’s as hot as you can bear it. Keep the spray directed onto your lumbar region for 2-4 minutes at least. If you are able to do this while seated, the benefits will be even greater.
These type of treatments should be avoided if you’re suffering from either sciatic nerve inflammation or a hernia.
Using plants to make medicinal drinks
Some plants have medicinal properties and can be very effective in cleansing and reducing inflammation. Sarsaparilla and horsetail are two such medicinal plants and can be very easily used in infusions which provide the body with much needed minerals.
Prepare a litre of infusion using both sarsaparilla and horsetail together, mixed in with a splash of lemon and a sprinkling of Stevia (or other natural sweetener). Sip regularly from this infusion throughout the day in place of your normal drinks.
Making a poultice
Clay is a natural yet incredibly potent remedy for inflammation in the body and it can be used as a poultice to help ease the pain and discomfort of lumbago. The clay absorbs any toxins from the body and eases inflammation as well as providing minerals directly to the skin.
Mix a little warm water with either red or green clay to create a sticky paste. It should be sufficiently thick so that it doesn’t run when applied to the back. Spread all over the entire lumbar region and then cover with either a dressing or fabric. Using a thick woollen fabric will help to add heat to the area, increasing the effects.
The poultice should be left on your back for a minimum of 30 minutes but can be left overnight if desired. When you remove it, you’ll find the clay has dried out and looks very different.
A very common plant, arnica is used by professional athletes in both the prevention and treatment of injuries and be used either topically, or taken orally, or both combined. Arnica is available in a variety of forms including a cream, an extract and in homeopathy, amongst others.
Arnica Montana 9 C is the preferred homeopathic remedy of arnica. Three balls should be taken daily by placing them under the tongue. The remedy should not be taken at the same time as a meal, drinks or strongly flavoured foods such as menthol, toothpaste or chewing gum.
Keeping the circulation flowing well can help the body to recover and a massage with rosemary vinegar can aid this. This massage medium can be made at home; simply allow a few sprigs of rosemary to soak in with the vinegar in a glass jar and the qualities of the rosemary will be infused into the liquid.
Traditional cupping therapies
A natural therapy which has been used in Traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years, cupping is a type of treatment which is possible to carry out on yourself.
The technique involves the use of a certain type of glass cup which works by moving blood and lymph around the body, boosting the circulation. This is achieved with the use of the cups which suction against the skin and musculature, creating a vacuum and opening the pores.
This simple process reduces inflammation in the back and can help to ease pain within 10-15 minutes of the cupping therapy being applied.