Achy back – not just a sign of old age!

MAGDALENA MARVELL, OUR RESIDENT NUTRITIONIST, DISCUSSES HOW OUR DIET CAN ASSIST BACK PAIN.

Many of us suffer from aches and pains in our upper or lower back thinking it is mainly related to old age and a poor posture. But pain between the shoulders may result from other causes such as stress and nutritional depletion.
Pain between the shoulder blades can have many causes, muscle strain is the most common. Stress affects the body in a variety of ways, from mood swings and headaches to weight fluctuations. However, an overlooked side effect of stress is neck and back pain. Over time, repeat episodes of stress can cause musculoskeletal issues in these regions of the body.

During stress our body naturally releases certain hormones. Adrenaline is associated with the “fight or flight” response that heightens our blood pressure, increases our blood supply, and causes the muscles around our spine to tense and spasm in case we need to flee the source of stress. Cortisol is known as the stress hormone; it interferes with a variety of functions. Elevations in cortisol can lead to a loss of muscle mass and an increase in fat accumulation.

When the Adrenal Glands are under stress the nerves that innervate them are affected as well. An upset nerve will affect the surrounding musculo-skeletal system, in particular the 3rd lumbar vertebra. High levels of stress can create tension in the muscles causing them to stiffen or lock up resulting in back pain.

Food allergies and intolerances to certain foods can also cause inflammation which can aggravate back pain. The most common inflammation foods include alcohol sugar, gluten, dairy and peanuts.

Persistent inflammation can result in chronic pain. Filling your plate with anti-inflammatory fruits, veggies, nuts, pulses, and beans can help reduce inflammation and keep your spine pain-free.

Kale, spinach, and broccoli are all list-toppers for an anti-inflammatory diet with back-pain-fighting properties. Other good food choices for an anti-pain diet include avocados; nuts (walnuts, almonds, pecans, and Brazil nuts); lean proteins, such as chicken and turkey.

Nutritional deficiency can also contribute to achy back
Vitamin D deficiency can cause or worsen neck and back pain and muscle spasms. A few case-studies reported a positive effect of vitamin D in treating chronic pain in palliative medicine and chronic low back pain1.
Another study suggests that vitamin B12 can provide relief from back pain due to the role it plays in the nervous system. According to a study published in the 2000 edition of European Review for Medical and Pharmacological Sciences, vitamin B12 significantly reduced back pain levels in most research patients. Vitamin B12 helps the body replace nerve cells in the spine and additionally also reduces inflammation – a common cause of chronic back pain2.

References:

  1. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6730953
  2. pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11558625

Magdalena Marvell is a Nutritional Practitioner and Founder of the Persea Clinic which helps support clients who want to optimise their health in areas such as gut health, hormonal balance, skin conditions, weight management, family nutrition. To find out more about her work please visit www.persea.clinic.