Back pain is something that affects people of all ages, and that can be quite crippling. The World Health Organisation estimates that 60 to 70% of people will suffer from low back pain at some point in their lives.1 There are many things that can cause back pain, including poor posture, injury, and deterioration of the discs in the back as people get older. One cause of back pain that is often overlooked, however, is digestive issues.
How Can Digestive Issues Cause Back Pain?
The first thing you need to understand about pain is that the site where you are feeling pain is not always the real source of the pain. There is something called ‘referred pain’, where certain neural pathways are triggered, leading you to feel pain in areas other than where the actual problem is.2 The digestive system is incredibly complex, with the stomach, large and small intestine, bladder and other organs all being connected and depending on each other, as well as the wealth of bacteria in the gut, in a number of ways.3 Problems with the digestive system can manifest themselves as pain in other areas or as a feeling of low energy or malaise.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome is one issue that can lead to back pain. It is not a common symptom, but low back pain can occur if the intestines are inflamed and spasm in a way that causes pain to refer towards your back.4
Kidney stones are a common cause of back pain. The kidneys filter waste out of your blood and turn it into urine. Sometimes, as a result of the filtering process, there is a build-up of calcium and phosphorus that does not get passed out as urine. These deposits form stones, which will slowly pass out of your system. Small stones often pass easily but bigger stones can be quite painful, and sometimes that pain is felt in your back instead of your abdomen.5 Gallstones can cause pain in a similar fashion.
Getting Relief From Back Pain
Back pain that is very serious, or that lasts for more than a day or two and does not get better with rest should not be ignored. If you suffer from IBS or get kidney stones on a regular basis then you will know what symptoms are ‘normal’ for you, and you should seek advice if you experience any more unusual symptoms.
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If you are confident that your back pain is a side-effect of a digestive issue, then there are self-care measures that you can take to improve your digestive health and to reduce your symptoms:
Drink Plenty of Water
While researchers are not entirely clear on the cause of kidney stones, it is thought that dehydration is a contributor since it makes your urine more concentrated. Studies into hydration and kidney stone risk are still ongoing.6 Since water is essentially free to drink, however, it’s a good idea to stay hydrated to enjoy that potential benefit and others.
Eat Easy-to-Digest Foods
Eating easy-to-digest sources of fiber such as oats can help to reduce a lot of the symptoms of IBS. If you experience bloating, then aim to eat more oats and fewer gas-inducing foods such as cauliflower or brussels sprouts. If you experience diarrhea, cut back on whole-grain foods. Aim to eat a nutritious diet with mostly plants, and stay away from sorbitol and other potential irritants.7 There are a number of foods that can negatively affect digestive health that you should avoid.
Get Plenty of Exercise
Exercise can aid digestion and reduce a lot of unpleasant symptoms. It boosts blood flow to the whole body, including the digestive system, and it can help to reduce the risk of IBS flare-ups.8 Exercise has numerous other benefits for your cardiovascular health, and for your long-term physical and mental wellbeing. You don’t have to spend a fortune on a gym membership, either. You can reap many of the benefits of regular exercise simply by going for a walk brisk walk a few times a week.9
Find Ways to Relax
Stress and anxiety are two things which can contribute to IBS. They are not thought to cause the condition, however, they can make people who suffer from it more aware of the spasms that they are experiencing, which can make them feel worse. It is also thought that stress can make the intestine itself more sensitive in those who are suffering from IBS.10 Practicing mindfulness, meditation or yoga could help to ease some of the symptoms, and using essential oils to promote relaxation may also be beneficial. Studies show that many aromatherapy oils, including neroli, lavender and chamomile, can help to reduce anxiety.11
Try Topical Massages to Relieve Symptoms
Topical applications of essential oils can help to relieve some of the symptoms of IBS and of back pain. If you are going to apply essential oils then you should make sure that they are generally recognized as safe and that they are ones that are designed for topical application. Peppermint, ginger and lavender are popular oils for relieving common symptoms of gastric distress. Peppermint, in particular, is very versatile and can help with bloating, diarrhea, gas and some types of pain.12
If you want to experiment with other aromatherapy blends, then you may want to either try aromatherapy vapes or mixing aromatherapy oils into a carrier oil such as coconut oil so that it can be used safely. Carrier oils help to dilute the other oils that you are using. This prevents the oils from irritating your skin and will also ensure that they are absorbed properly, rather than evaporating as soon as they are applied. MONQ has a number of blends specially designed to provide feelings of relief, like MONQ R Relieve personal refillable diffuser.
Take a Broad Approach to Health
Health is a combination of many factors. It takes patience and consistency to achieve good health, and if you make changes to your diet you will need to stick to them to enjoy the benefits. Find things that work for you and that you can apply every day to stay healthy.
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