Back Pain

man with back pain, massage back for relief of pain

What is Back Pain?

The topic seems fairly self-explanatory but back pain can be caused by many different things. It can be caused by tight muscles, food intolerances, stress, disc herniation, pregnancy or even injury. Whatever the reason, natural treatment can relieve pain at the source without drugs or side effects.

What are the signs and symptoms associated with back pain?

    • pain (obviously
    • tingling in your back or legs
    • numbness in your back or legs
    • cramping in your back or legs
    • tightness in your back
    • muscle spasms

What Causes Back Pain?

    1. Pain can be caused from inflammation that originates from your muscles or nerves if they aren’t functioning normally, but also from inflammation in your gut
    2. Muscle tension. Tense muscles prevent normal freedom of movement of your back and spine and increase the risk of disc herniation. Relieving muscle tension with massage therapy, chiropractic care and counseling for stress relief can help relax those tight muscles.
    3. Disc herniation or bulging discs.  The bones of the spine (vertebrae) are cushioned by a spongy disc.  Excessive pressure on the disc can cause it to bulge or herniate which presses on nerves, causing pain. Correcting alignment with a chiropractor and/or osteopath can help take pressure off the disc.
    4. Degenerative discs.  With age, the spongy discs can get worn down, decreasing the space for your nerves to pass through.  Because of this lack of space, nerves get pinched and bone rubs against bone which causes pain in your low back. Discs can be strengthened and restored through proper nutrition and proper alignment of your spine.
    5. Pregnancy.  During pregnancy, your ligaments relax to allow your pelvis to expand at delivery.  With the added weight of a baby and relaxed ligaments, there is a greater incidence of low back pain. Chiropractic care and acupuncture are safe and effective ways to relieve pregnancy back pain.
    6. Weak abdominal muscles and overweight/obesity.  Core muscles stabilize the spine, weak core muscles and increased abdominal weight add to back strain. Use of core strength exercises like yoga and pilates or specifically recommended core exercises from our chiropractor or massage therapist can help.

What is the best natural treatment for back pain?

    • Diet – the cause of your discomfort may be food allergies/intolerances! Did you know that your brain doesn’t interpret “pain” from your organs? This means that irritation and inflammation in your intestines can actually cause low back pain since the same nerves that innervate your intestines innervate some back muscles. The brain thinks the “pain” is more likely coming from your back, so it interprets the pain as originating from that region. Our naturopathic doctors can help you identify and treat gut problems and food sensitivities.
    • Avoid pro-inflammatory foods – red meat, trans fats and food allergies promote inflammation in the body generally. Anti-inflammatory foods like fish and fish oil can help reduce inflammation and pain. Again, food sensitivities create more inflammation in your body and should be removed.
    • Herbs for back pain – herbs can be used to relieve low back pain and reduce inflammation.  There are many effective herbal anti-inflammatories, that don’t have unwanted side effects like NSAIDs do.
    • Acupuncture – acupuncture can help release your tight muscles, reduce inflammation and relieve pain.  Acupuncture is also a safe and effective way to relieve back pain in pregnancy.
    • Vitamins, minerals and amino acids – These vital nutrients can help build a healthy spine, strengthen intervertebral discs, relax tense muscles and help your brain to produce natural pain relievers like serotonin, GABA, nitric oxide, serine, and acetylcholine.
    • Exercise – Exercise helps to strengthen your abs and your core, balance muscles and help you lose weight if necessary. Our back pain experts can help prescribe appropriate exercises to help back pain.
    • Massage – Let’s face it, who doesn’t want an excuse to get a massage? Registered Massage Therapists (RMT) offer relief of low back pain, by improving circulation to your back and relaxing back muscles.  Prenatal massage therapy is particularly beneficial for low back pain in pregnancy.
    • Chiropractic – When was the last time you had an adjustment? It may be that the cause of your back pain is one or more vertebrae being out of alignment, pinching nerves & triggering your pain.  Hand in hand, chiropractic and massage therapy make an excellent combination for long-term relief of low back pain.

Natural Treatment for Back Pain Research:

Herbs for Back Pain:

Gagnier JJ, Oltean H, van Tulder MW, Berman BM, Bombardier C, Robbins CB. Herbal medicine for low
back pain: a Cochrane review. Spine. 2016; 41(2): 116-33.
● 14 RCTs (2050 participants), any form of herb
● Capsicum frutescens (cayenne) reduced pain more than placebo with adequate evidence
● Hapragophytum prcumbens (devil’s claw), Salix alba (white willow bark), Symphytum officinale (comfrey), Solidago chilensis (Brazilian arnica), and lavender essential oil all reduced pain more than placebo with moderate quality evidence

Acupuncture, Yoga, Tai Chi, Massage Therapy, and Relaxation Techniques:

Nahin RL, Boineau R, Khalsa PS, Stussman BJ, Weber WJ. Evidence-based evaluation of complementary
health approaches for pain management in the United States. Mayo Clin Proceedings. 2016;
91(9): 1292-1306.
● Review found the following complementary approaches had more positive results in helping patients maintain the following chronic painful conditions:
o Acupuncture and yoga for back pain
o Acupuncture and tai chi for osteoarthritis of the knee
o Massage therapy for neck pain
o Relaxation techniques for severe headaches and migraines
o Weaker evidence for relaxation and tai chi for fibromyalgia


Paige NM, Miake-Lye IM, Booth MS, Beroes JM, Mardian AS, Dougherty P, Branson R, Tang B, Morton
SC, Shekelle PG. Association of spinal manipulative therapy with clinical benefit and harm for acute low back pain. Systematic review and meta-analysis. JAMA. 2017;
● Research suggests spinal manipulation therapy for acute low back pain is associated with modest improvements in pain and function, comparable to benefit received from non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Systematic review and MA of 26 RCTs (1711 patients) – moderate quality evidence supporting spinal manipulative therapies have significant association with improvements in low back pain and function for up to 6 weeks.

Vitamin D:

Vitamin D supplementation may be useful as an adjunctive treatment for pain and low back function in patients with failed back surgery syndrome. Source: J Orthop Surg (Hong Kong), 2012 Apr; 20(1):18-22.


Motion style acupuncture therapy was found to have positive effects on immediate pain relief and functional recovery of acute low back pain and severe functional disability. Source: Pain, 2013 March 15.

Acupuncture might provide an immediate effect in reducing the pain of acute LBP safely without adverse effects.  Source: Liu YT, Chiu CW, Chang CF, Lee TC, Chen CY, Chang SC, Lee CY, Lo LC. Efficacy and Safety of Acupuncture for Acute Low Back Pain in Emergency Department: A Pilot Cohort Study. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2015;2015:179731. doi: 10.1155/2015/179731.

…physiotherapy, osteopathic manipulation, multimodal intervention (exercise and education), exercises performed in a water environment, acupuncture, etc., have proven to be effective [treatment for low back pain]. Source: Gallo-Padilla D, Gallo-Padilla C, Gallo-Vallejo FJ, Gallo-Vallejo JL. Low back pain during pregnancy. Multidisciplinary approach. Semergen. 2015 Jul 31. pii: S1138-3593(15)00247-6. doi: 10.1016/j.semerg.2015.06.005.


Multi-nutrient supplementation reduced inflammatory markers and improved physical function in middle-aged men and women. Source: Nutr J. 2011 Sep 7; 10:90.


A drug-free approach of chiropractic care is one of the best solutions for disc and radiating pain. Source: Studin, M. (2010). Herniated discs, radiating pain and chiropractic. US Chiropractic Directory.

Sixty per cent of patients with sciatica who had failed other medical management benefited from spinal manipulation to the same degree as if they underwent surgical intervention. Source: McMorland, G., Suter, E., Casha, S., du Plessis, S. J., & Hurlbert, R. J. (2010). Manipulation or microdiskectomy for sciatica? A prospective randomized clinical study. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, 33(8), 576-584

Massage Therapy:

Massage therapy was compared to relaxation for chronic low back pain. By the end of the study, the massage therapy group, as compared to the relaxation group, reported less pain, depression and anxiety and improved sleep. They also showed improved trunk and pain flexion performance, and their serotonin and dopamine levels were higher. Source: Hernandez-Reif, M., Field, T., Krasnegor, J., & Theakston, H. (2001). Lower back pain is reduced and range of motion increased after massage therapy. International Journal of Neuroscience, 106, 131-145.

Massage therapy versus relaxation therapy with chronic low back pain patients was evaluated for reducing pain, depression, anxiety and sleep disturbances, for improving trunk range of motion (ROM) and for reducing job absenteeism and increasing job productivity. Thirty adults with low back pain with a duration of at least 6 months pain participated in the study. On the first and last day of the 5-week study participants completed questionnaires and were assessed for ROM. By the end of the study, the massage therapy group, as compared to the relaxation group, reported less pain, depression, anxiety and sleep disturbance. They also showed improved trunk and pain flexion performance. Source: Field, T., Hernandez-Reif, M., Diego, M., & Fraser, M. (2007). Lower back pain and sleep disturbance are reduced following massage therapy. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapy, 11, 141-145.

Massage therapy, as a stand-alone treatment, reduces pain and improves function compared to no treatment in some musculoskeletal conditions.  Source: Bervoets DC, Luijsterburg PA, Alessie JJ, Buijs MJ, Verhagen AP. Massage therapy has short-term benefits for people with common musculoskeletal disorders compared to no treatment: a systematic review. J Physiother. 2015 Jul;61(3):106-16. doi: 10.1016/j.jphys.2015.05.018. Epub 2015 Jun 17.


AGE ingestion could be a factor contributing to a pre-diabetic state, ectopic calcifications in spinal tissues, and musculoskeletal complications that are more generally known to occur with chronic diabetic conditions. Source: Illien-Jünger S, Lu Y, Qureshi SA, Hecht AC, Cai W, Vlassara H, Striker GE, Iatridis JC. Chronic ingestion of advanced glycation end products induces degenerative spinal changes and hypertrophy in aging pre-diabetic mice.  PLoS One. 2015 Feb 10;10(2):e0116625. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0116625. eCollection 2015.


Our findings show that a 2-week intravenous magnesium infusion followed by 4 weeks of oral magnesium supplementation can reduce pain intensity and improve lumbar spine mobility during a 6-month period in patients with refractory chronic low back pain with a neuropathic component. Source: Yousef AA, Al-deeb AE. A double-blinded randomised controlled study of the value of sequential intravenous and oral magnesium therapy in patients with chronic low back pain with a neuropathic component. Anaesthesia. 2013 Mar;68(3):260-6. doi: 10.1111/anae.12107. Epub 2012 Dec 17.