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2davidc8's avatar

Can the body heal itself? #3 in the series: back pain/neck pain (please see inside)

Asked by 2davidc8 (9219points) March 16th, 2018

For background, please see earlier posts in this series:
#1: high blood pressure/cholesterol
#2: arthritis

I am intrigued by the amazing capacity of the body to heal itself and reverse and recover from certain conditions, without drugs or surgery. Continuing in the series, I would now like to take a look at back pain/neck pain. Did you personally, or do you know someone who has stopped or reversed the condition without prescription drugs or surgery. That is, they did it through only diet, exercise, rest & relaxation, tai chi, vacation, environmental changes (move to a drier climate, change of scenery), physical therapy, non-prescription drugs, vitamins, minerals, herbs, probiotics, massage therapy, acupuncture, electrical stimulation, light/laser therapy, Feldenkrais, meditation, Yoga, Ayurveda, more social interaction, saunas, Jacuzzi/whirlpool, mud baths, heat treatments, what have you…(any others?) OTC drugs like aspirin are OK.
(Some of things on this list may not apply in this case, but they’re listed here so we don’t forget them when we discuss other diseases/conditions later.)

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13 Answers

JLeslie's avatar

I had a back injury at one point years ago that lasted 9 months. The pain was really very bad at times, it was in pain daily ranging fom about a 4 to an 8 consistently. It affected my work, I had to wear a back brace, no heals, I wasn’t supposed to lift more than 10 pounds. I went to physical therapy for several sessions. Once in a while I took ibuprofen, but fairly rarely.

I believe what finally cured me was living with my MIL for three months. She cooked, cleaned, and did my laundry the entire time. My back finally rested. My injury was muscular, I didn’t have any disc damage. The physical therapist also had shown me how to not twist or strain my back, which I think definitely helped, and I still try to use those recommendations.

The doctor also was right about limiting to ten pounds when lifting something to avoid strain, and letting the muscles heal.

I do think it would have been better to take ibuprofen, or a similar drug like Alleve, or even aspirin immediately when I felt the pull for a few days (I had lifted something heavy) and try to avoid longer term pain. Those drugs relax the muscle and halt inflammation.

A few years ago I was in a bad accident, damage to discs in my neck, and additional shoulder injury. It will never be completely healed. Maybe there is a surgery, but I’ve never pursued anything like that. I try to be careful not to be in a position that hurts my neck, or to do motions that hurt a lot, but I do exercise my shoulder to keep the range of motion, I just have trouble with fast movements. I don’t take medication for it. If bad pain did flare up I would treat it at minimum with ibuprofen for a few days. I’d even consider a muscle relaxer, I hate muscle relaxers, but the effect on the muscle is so profound I think it is therapeutic. I feel it can really help heal. I took them for a few days one time when I was in the most excruciating pain of my life, and I feel it did help heal me much more than waiting it out, or some other treatment. I only took it once a day for about three days during a week’s time. This was following, and related too, the accident that damaged my neck and shoulder.

johnpowell's avatar

British comedian/curmudgeon David Mitchell talked about this in his shockingly titled book called “Back Story”. His back was all fucked and he just started walking a hour a day and that alone sorted it out.

funkdaddy's avatar

Fluther just ate my overly long response, so shorter version this time.

- It depends on what’s hurt, your body can heal muscles, but once you lose those discs, there’s not much to do except try to keep them from getting worse or have surgery
– I used to do physical work and thought a little back pain was just normal
– I hurt my back after having desk jobs for too long and trying to help someone move a big rolling toolbox onto a trailer, I hurt it pretty bad
– It got worse and just wasn’t healing through rest
– shortly after that my back locked up and I had to lay on the ground for 15 minutes or so, scared me enough to do something about it
– started exercising shortly after with a focus on getting my back/core stronger and doing stretches initially, after a while I just tried to keep entertained and keep doing something physical every other day.. the only other big change was I stopped sleeping on the couch
– after about a year, the pain went away, I haven’t had back pain since, that was probably 7 or 8 years ago

Zaku's avatar

I’ve healed back pain with Feldenkrais, which develops body awareness and awakens the a person’s ability to explore and learn new movement habits. One thing that can allow is instead of repeating ones which perpetuate overuse and re-injury of sore spots, we can notice what we do that hurts and learn new habits that let something like back or neck pain heal instead of keeping putting stress on it and re-injuring it.

I used to get back pain from my work sitting at computers (and from old injuries). Feldenkrais cleared those up pretty quickly. And it also saved me when my back went out recently (well, I had to call for instructions, but it worked).

Basically it’s getting you to try movements so your body learns to stop re-injuring itself, so it can heal itself.

I know and/or have met many other people who have had healed and mitigated many physical conditions with Feldenkrais.

gorillapaws's avatar

My father was having back problems for a while, and he started doing a simple stretching routine after seeing a physical therapist. It’s amazing that such a basic activity like stretching can make such an improvement in someone’s quality of life. Normal aches/pains don’t really need intervention, but when the anatomy is damaged, (disc, vertebrae, etc.) it’s going to take more than deep breathing, or light therapy etc. to solve the problem.

I should also add that because normal aches and pains often do resolve themselves on their own with out intervention, it’s an area that’s riddled with pseudo science and quack therapies. Some percent of people with back aches who fart on puppies 3 times per day will see an improvement in symptoms. That doesn’t mean there’s a causal relationship, and it’s why double-blinded well controlled studies are necessary to establish safety and efficacy of treatments.

thisismyusername's avatar

Due to a really messed-up back, I was unable to lie down for 2.5 years. Yes, that meant that I was “sleeping” on the couch, propped up in almost an upright position. It was a real bummer to say the least. I had gone through spinal injections, 3 rounds of physical therapy, joined a gym, etc. Nothing worked.

My spine guy eventually talked about neuroplasticity. He had me work on trying to lie down for 30 seconds, work through the pain, meditate, etc. Then get up. The next night, double it, and so on. After months, I was able to lie down for 6 hours in a bed without excruciating pain.

That’s where I am now. I have been sleeping in a bed again for a couple of years. It’s not that I’m completely comfortable. Rather, the pain has been converted into mild discomfort. And my relationship with pain and discomfort is something more complex now.

RocketGuy's avatar

I have arthritis/stenosis, so can’t do much about it except use ibuprofen (and steroid injections). But I also get a pinched nerve condition if I sit on the couch too long. The only way to unpinch it is to use an inversion table. So my non-prescription cures for my back are: inversion table and ibuprofen.

chyna's avatar

^How do you use an inversion table. I mean how often, how long, etc.

RocketGuy's avatar

I go 15 deg down and squirm around for about 2 min. Sometimes I hear a pop, other times the pressure just eases up. Then the general pain fades away over a few hours.

Pandora's avatar

I had bad sciatic nerve pain that I was able to get rid of for months and years at a time.
I did it through stretching, and watching how I move, and taking vitamin D.
I use to have it so bad I couldn’t sleep. Then I would put a pillow below my back so I could stretch it as I slept and not sleep on the side, creating pressure.

I have also gotten good control over my acid reflux. I changed my diet to avoid high fat foods that trigger it. I can go months without getting a flare up. As soon as I feel it coming on, I try to rest my stomach by eating bland food and making sure I don’t over eat. I will also take a tums or I will take magnesium pills. That was pretty bad and taking the pills is what led to the deterioration of my bones.

Losing hair. I found rubbing coconut oil on my scalp increased hair grown and made my hair healthier.

Using apple cider vinegar help me to be rid of toenail fungus on my big toe.

Eating red cherries and drinking apple cider vinegar or drinking lemon water helps my husband stay his gout when he has a flare up. Faster than any pill they give him. Also changing his diet to less high protein foods pretty much keeps it under control and from him getting flare ups.

I’m all about home remedies if it can be fixed that way. I find most medications do what it’s suppose to do but happens to destroy something else along the way.
I recently got off my cholesterol medication because it was killing my muscles. Doc says it wasn’t enough to do that and yet 3 days after being off the medication, all my body aches went away, after months of being in pain.

JLeslie's avatar

Curious to see if anyone attacks @pandora for mentioning D.

Good call there. D levels do wonders for my muscle pain. I usually recommend getting a vitamin D blood test, so the person really knows where they are at. Taking D, but not taking enough to get you into the normal range, you might not feel any effect. The only way to know is with a blood test.

You can also have your iron, potassium, and magnesium checked, but I think vitamin D is probably the most often deficiency we see now that is being missed by doctors.

People usually think of back pain differently than leg cramps or tired arms, but the muscles in the back similarly need the right nutrients to stay healthy.

2davidc8's avatar

@JLeslie Nice to see you back!
My BIL had a bad pain and he tried an inversion table, but it didn’t work for him.
I hurt my back many years ago, and several times since, I have tweaked it, but not as bad. Each time, the pain seems to have lasted about 1–3 weeks, depending. Aspirin and rest have cleared it up each time, followed by gentle stretching. Now I try to do stretches every day, and I avoid lifting things while twisting my trunk, no matter how light the object. It’s the worst thing you could do.

JLeslie's avatar


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