Back pain - strain and sprain
Back pain - strain and sprain
It seems that almost everyone at one time or another has had some trouble with back pain. Pain in the back may be caused by muscular strain, a slipped intervertebral disk, or it may be caused by some disease of the bones and joints of the spine.
The hips are the foundation upon which rests the upper skele¬tal system. From the triangular center part of the pelvis, we find the twenty four vertebrae that make up the spinal column which reaches up to the skull. The spinal column consists of seven cervical, twelve thoracic and five lumbar vertebrae. These are separated by cush¬ions of tough elastic cartilage called disks. The disks act as shock absorbers and give the back its flexibility. There are ligaments and muscles which hold the vertebrae in place. Two important muscle groups are found on each side of the spine. Within the spinal col¬umn are the spinal nerves of the central nervous system.
More often than not, backache is cause by strain of the mus¬cles around the lower part of the spine. Doing some activity or sport that you are not used to will strain the muscles of the back. If the spine is kept erect it is less likely to have backache. Chairs that force the back to sit in a curved posture can cause chronic back strain, so TV watchers beware! Watching sports on TV can promote backache the same as playing the sport.
The pain of lumbago is often localized to one extremely pain¬ful spot in the muscles, usually in the lower lumbar region and slightly to one side of the midline. Lumbago often occurs after a combination of new exercise and cold, such as a new jogging routine in the winter or digging a garden in the spring. The spasm of the muscle fibers can be so severe that some people cannot get out of bed.
Another common cause of sudden backache is damage to one of the disks in the lower region of the spine. Lifting something heavy while the back is curved puts pressure on the disk. If enough stress is placed on the disk it will rupture and move from its normal location. The part that moves can press on the spinal nerves. Frequently, this pressure causes pain extending down the main sciatic nerve which runs from the buttock to the foot. The pain is made worse by coughing, straining, or bending the back.
Treatment for slipped or prolapsed disk is rest, with the individual flat on the back in bed. Rest for two weeks, sometimes more, often allows the protrusion to be reabsorbed back into the disk and the damaged part to heal.
Place compresses directly on the back area that is in pain, alternate hot towels for at least twenty minutes. For severe backache you can do ginger compresses several times each day. Always follow the compress with shiatsu.
Have the receiver lie face down, trying to relax the back muscles as much as possible. A ginger compress before the shiatsu makes the treatment more effective.
With the fingertips, probe and find the most painful area. After discovering the center of trouble, with the heel of your hand, massage lightly the sore spot in a circular direction. This will increase circulation. Then with the thumbs press with your body weight (standing over the person with one legon each side) into the two muscle bands thatrun down the sides of the spine. These muscles have the Urinary Bladder Channel passing through them. At the level of the pelvis,lumbar 4, press especially well (UB 25). Leanyour whole body into the points bending yourknees and letting gravity do the work. Continue shiatsu on this area for 5-10 minutes.
After finishing the back area, you can massage several places on the backs of the legs. First, with the hands, press the upper thighs. Then with the thumbs, press down the center of the upper leg holding each point for 2-5 seconds. Press the center of the back of the knee. This is an ancient acupoint (UB 54) noted in the classics to relieve all types of back pain.
, The lower part of the leg should also receive shiatsu. With the thumbs, press down rapidly in a circular motion at the center of the calf. The giver is sitting at the receiver's feet facing the head. Finish with firm pressure on the center of the calf (UB 57} and the inside and outside of the heel of the foot (UB 60 and KD 3). Pressing the bottom of the foot with the thumb is useful.
The heat of moxibustion is very effective in relaxing muscles which are contracted or spasming. Apply moxa for 3-5 minutes on the following points: UB 23, UB 25, UB 57.
A variety of exercises can be done to strengthen the lower back. They can be done either alone or with a partner. The following are just some examples of what you can do.
Leg and Head Lift
Lie face down and have both arms behind the back. Raise the legs and the upper body at the same time, stretching them backward so that a bow position is assumed. Hold for as long as possible. Rest, then repeat.
Stand with feet shoulders' width apart. Bend forward at the waist and gradually move toward the floor. Bounce gently until the hands touch the floor. Then return to a standing position and bend backward at the waist. Repeat this several times. It is best if you gently push yourself with the understanding that progress is slow but sure.
With your hands, hang on to a bar or door frame above your head. This will stretch the spine. While hanging swing the hips forward and backward, side to side. This will rotate the lumbar area. Continue until you get tired. Then let go, rest, and repeat a few times.
Leg to Chest Lift
Lay on the back, lift and bring one knee to the chest then, back out straight again. Alternate with each leg. Do the right leg first, then follow with the left. Repeat with each leg twenty times.
There are numerous other exercises which can be extremely useful in mending an ailing back. These exercises will also lessen the possibilities of re-injury if they are performed on a regular basis.
More important for your recovery is the fact that you can invent your own set of exercises quite easily. Examples such as standing with your arms swinging from side-to-side as you twist and look over your shoulder or gently rolling on a padded floor on your back with your hands grasping your feet. Both can loosen stiff muscles as it increases a better blood supply to the area of pain. The point is for you to develop what your body needs. As little as 5-10 minutes invested each day will pay big dividends. The alternatives to healthy home back care are medications and often times surgery. These options should not be decided upon lightly.
More classical exercise routines such as yoga, Do-In, Chinese, Korean, and Tibetan exercise programs are beneficial.