- A new warning about ibuprofen
- Why you should never take this for back ache
- My three favourite natural anti-inflammatory treats
How’s your back?
The reason I’m asking is that there’s a ONE in SIX chance that you have back pain right now.
That’s how many sufferers there are in the UK, according to Public Health England.
And if you add the number of adults who have had back ache – or will at some point in the future – then that rises to FOUR in FIVE adults.
I’ll freely admit, I’m one of these people.
It’s nothing too serious, just the occasional flare up in my upper back, usually from sleeping badly.
I’m usually fine in my own bed but put me in a hotel or friend’s spare room and I usually wake up with fire between my shoulders.
For years I’ve been practicing stretches… walking daily… a bit of swimming… watching my weight… eating anti-inflammatory foods… all the stuff that you’ll get recommended.
And it does work.
But sometimes, the pain returns and, in those moments, it’s so tempting to reach for the pain killers.
Unless it’s an absolutely emergency, I never do that.
What about you?
If you’re someone who goes straight to the medicine cabinet to grab some anti-inflammatory drugs for your pain, then this might make you think twice.
Some new research has shown that using popular anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen to ease your back pain is counterproductive.
It can even make the problem worse!
How ibuprofen increases your long-term pain risk
This is according to a study carried out on half a million adults by Imperial College London and published in May this year.
People who use drugs like ibuprofen regularly have a 70% higher risk of developing long term back pain.
This is compared with people who just take paracetamol.
They don’t know for sure why yet but animal tests indicate that the reason might be that ibuprofen reduces the activity of a white blood cell known as neutrophils, which can prolong the pain.
So what can you do instead?
Well, in an urgent pain situation, it seems as if paracetamol is better for back ache than something like ibuprofen.
Clearly, if you suffer from this kind of pain you absolutely should get yourself thoroughly checked out to make sure there’s no underlying medical cause like arthritis, fibromyalgia, osteoporosis, slipped disc or pulled tendon.
Then it’s worth checking that there is no underlying lifestyle cause either. Obvious candidates include too much sitting (either at a car, a desk, or both), unsafe desk layout at work or home, a poor mattress, too much weight gain or bad posture.
Like me, you might find regular walking, swimming and stretching the way forward.
And if you want a really soothing, tasty nutritional solution…
My three favourite natural anti-inflammatory treats
I can heartily recommend some of my own favourite nutritional anti-inflammatories. These are all side-effect free and delicious:
‘Golden Milk’ is an Indian drink made from warm milk blended with turmeric with spices like ground ginger and cinnamon added. A bit of coconut oil helps make the turmeric available for your body to absorb. Add some honey if you like it sweeter.
Ginger tea – take some raw ginger and infuse it just like a tea (again, add some honey to sweeten). Ginger has powerful anti-inflammatory properties and could even relieve back pain caused by arthritis, according to one study. You can also rub ginger oil directly on the painful part of your back or put fresh ginger root into a warm compress and apply it to your back for several minutes.
About an hour before bedtime, drink a mug of natural tea like Chamomile. This relaxes your back muscles and helps you get a better night’s sleep, which should also improve your back problem. For extra soporific power, add a few drops of roman chamomile, marjoram or rose oil to your pillow before you turn in.
Of course, these aren’t going to work nearly as fast or as powerfully as a drug BUT there is a natural remedy that could do the trick on that front.
Seven pain relievers in one spray to hit the spot
You could try a massage gel like Advance 7 which contains natural pain relievers including:
Devils Claw – known to counter pain from osteo-arthritis and tendinitis.
Horsetail – shown to have anti-inflammatory and joint soothing properties.
Rosemary – this could reduce the effects of the prostaglandins that are responsible for inflammation.
Peppermint – famously cools and relieves pain, thanks to the anti-inflammatory effects of menthol.
Thyme – an essential oil which is good for relieving cramping and tense muscles.
Cajeput – a key ingredient in the widely used Tiger Balm.
Green Clay – can reduce swelling in joints.
However, if it’s your upper back which is sore, I recommend Advance 7 in a spray form, which makes it easier to reach those tricky parts.
You can order some from our shop here: Advance 7 Spray