Back Pain: An Integrative – Functional Approach
One of the most common reasons people miss work and go to the doctor is back pain. Most people suffer from back pain at some point in their lives. The good news is it’s possible to
prevent or relieve back pain with an integrative and functional medicine approach. The
difference between functional and conventional therapy is the former diagnoses and corrects
the root cause of back pain. Despite popular belief, back surgery is not always necessary.
Dr. Le of ACN Wellness practices functional medicine in Vienna and Leesburg VA. Some of the
treatments used by Dr. Le include:
● Functional Medicine
● Dry Needle Therapy
● Spinal Decompression
● Laser IV Therapy
● Nutrition, Vitamins, Supplements Diet Counseling
● Release Techniques
● Detox Diets
● Lymph Node Unclogging Techniques
Surgery is only recommended as a last resort at ACN Wellness. We believe most medical
conditions can be resolved with lifestyle changes and non-surgical methods. Surgery should
only be considered if those forms of treatment are unsuccessful in relieving constant lower back
pain or upper back pain.
Symptoms of Back Pain
Signs and symptoms of upper and lower back pain include:
● Sore muscles
● Stabbing pain
● Burning back pain
● Shooting pain
● Radiating pain down the leg
● Pain or soreness that subsides when reclining
● Bending, lifting, standing or walking worsens pain
● Lower back pain can’t walk or lower back pain can barely walk
● Lower back pain that radiates to front pelvic area
● Lower back pain when breathing deeply
Who Suffers from Back Pain
Anyone at any age can suffer from back pain, including children and teenagers.
People who are
most likely to suffer from it are:
● Suffering from a Medical Condition
Lower, upper and middle back pain causes can range from lifestyle, genetics, to underlying
What Causes Lower Back Pain and Upper Back Pain
Sudden lower back pain lasts six weeks or less. Falls and heavy lifting are two of the most
common causes of low back pain.
Chronic upper and lower back pain lasts three months or more. It’s much less common than
acute back pain.
The following are risks factors for upper and low back pain:
Lifting heavy objects using the back muscles versus using the strength of the legs can lead to
acute back pain.
Lack of Exercise
Weak back and abdominal muscles can make back pain much more possible, as the muscles
cannot support the body.
When you’re overweight or obese, the excess weight can put stress on the back.
Nicotine reduces blood flow to the lower spine, which can prevent the necessary nutrients from
getting to the discs in the back.
Medical Conditions Causing Lower and Upper Back Pain
Medical conditions commonly linked to back pain include:
Muscle or Ligament Strain
Straining back muscles and spinal ligaments often result from lifting heavily on a regular basis.
Sudden awkward movements can also lead to straining.
Bulging or Ruptured Discs
Discs provide a cushion between the bones in the spine. They are an important part of the
vertebrae. When the soft material inside of the discs bulge or rupture, it can push on nerves.
Osteoarthritis affects the lower back and can cause a condition called spinal stenosis. This
condition is identified by a narrowing of the spinal cord.
Scoliosis, a condition in which the spine curves to the side, can lead to back pain. While people
may have this condition as a child and young adult, extreme low back pain may not start until
When the spine’s vertebrae develop compression fractures, the bones can become porous and
brittle. This puts a lot of pressure on the back causing severe lower back pain.
Genetic conditions such as ankylosing spondylitis causes fusion of the spinal joint, which
immobilizes the spine.
Mental Health Disorders
Depression and anxiety can increase your risk of suffering from severe back pain.
Intervertebral Disc Degeneration
When the discs lose integrity over time, they lose their cushioning ability.
This condition causes compression, inflammation and/or injury to the spinal nerve root.
This is a form of radiculopathy, and it’s caused by the compression of the sciatic nerve (a large
nerve that goes from the buttocks down the back of the leg). Pain may be accompanied by
numbness and muscle weakness.
Tumors usually don’t start in the back but are a result of cancer spreading from another part of
the body. However, the pain could be first felt in the back.
Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm
The large blood vessel that supplies blood to the legs, pelvis, and abdomen becomes much
larger and is at risk of rupturing.
This condition can cause a sharp pain in the lower back, usually just on one side.
Uterine tissue builds up outside of the uterus.
This is a chronic pain syndrome causing muscle pain and fatigue.
Who To See for Back Pain: An Integrative and Functional
When considering what kind of doctor for back pain you should choose, consider one that
specializes in functional and integrative medicine.
Alternative medicines such as functional and integrative medicine have gained popularity
recently, and many experts believe it is the future of medicine. Taking a more holistic approach
benefits patients because it doesn’t only focus on treating the disease, but instead, it seeks to
improve patients’ overall health.
Integrative medicine is a holistic medical discipline that takes account of a patient’s lifestyle
habits (nutrition and exercise) and uses modalities such as acupuncture and massage to treat
what is causing the back pain.
Functional medicine embraces integrative medicine but goes a step further in diagnosing the
underlying causes of disease. It focuses on the patient as a whole to create a unique treatment
plan. The relationship between the doctor and patient is a partnership as they work to diagnose
and treat the condition that causes suffering. Functional medicine treats the patient rather than
just the disease.
How to Help Back Pain
If you’re suffering from upper or lower back pain that won’t go away, we can help. Dr. Le is a
back specialist near you with offices in Leesburg and Vienna. With many years of experience as
a lower back pain doctor, he can diagnose and treat you, so you can live a healthy, pain-free
ACN Wellness is a holistic, integrative medical center offering treatment for back pain by
diagnosing and treating the root cause of the pain. Contact us today for a back pain doctor near
you by calling 703-729-5600 to schedule an appointment.
Relieving back pain naturally is possible. Many people who come to ACN Wellness are seeking this way to relieve their back pain, and we’re proud to have helped them achieve that. The following are some of the treatments we recommend for back pain treatment.
Natural Ways to Relieve Back Pain
Inflammatory foods and drinks can be one cause of back pain. For that reason, one way to relieve that pain is to eat and drink anti-inflammatory foods and beverages. As you consume them on a regular basis, many antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancer agents can build up in your blood. These agents can then reduce or eliminate inflammation in the body, including in the back.
The following are some drinks that reduce inflammation:
Turmeric milk has gained a great deal of popularity over the years because of its anti-inflammatory effects. In addition to it being anti-inflammatory, it’s also anti-arthritic and an antioxidant.
To make turmeric milk, all you need to do is mix a half teaspoon of the spice in some warm milk, so it will dissolve. You can add honey or stevia to make it sweeter. This drink is most effective if consumed before bed, so it can process while you sleep.
Please note: some people are allergic to milk and can suffer from inflammation before the dairy. If that happens to you, try plant-based milk or almond milk.
Tart Cherry Juice
Cherries have a lot of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents. They can help relieve muscle pain, especially if it’s from exercise or it’s chronic in nature. You can usually find cherry juice in the grocery store.
Drink one glass of cherry juice a day. It will take some time before you notice effects, but if you’re consistent, you should feel some relief.
Herbal teas are great for relieving back pain, especially ginger and green tas. You don’t need anything fancy. The teabags you find at the grocery store are effective.
The most important thing to remember is that the anti-inflammatory agents in the above drinks must build up in your bloodstream, so you have to consume them on a regular basis for them to work. This is true even after the pain has subsided because you’ll want to keep inflammation away with them.
Sleep is important for many reasons, but it’s especially important to people who have back pain. When you’re able to get a good night’s rest, your body can recover from the day. This way when you wake up, your body will feel energized and ready to take on the day.
If you’re having trouble getting enough sleep at night, you may want to try some natural sleep aids, such as:
- Vitamin C and B6: These two vitamins are natural steroids. They keep your metabolism healthy and improve your sleep quality. In time, your body will be able to produce and regulate hormones that are responsible for generating these natural steroids on their own.
- Melatonin: This is a natural sleep hormone you can take before bed. It will help you fall asleep and stay asleep. It can also improve your sleep cycle.
- L-Theanine: This amino acid is often found in tea leaves and it can help people feel relaxed, so they can sleep better.
- Valerian: The root of the valerian plant has sedative effects, which can help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep for longer.
Cherry juice, which was mentioned above for its anti-inflammatory properties, can also help you sleep better. Consider this if you believe you could benefit from both of these effects.
In other words, don’t stay in one position for too long. When you stay in one position for too long, your joint and muscles become exhausted and that puts pressure on your spine and hips. Some of the ways you can avoid being in a static posture for a long time is:
- Take Breaks: If you sit at a desk most of the day, get up and walk around every hour. This will keep you from putting too much pressure on your spine.
- Check Posture: When your mom told you to sit up straight, she really was trying to help you. Adjust your neck, shoulder, and back, so they align. This will keep you from putting undue stress on your spine.
- Change Activities: Even when you aren’t sitting, you need to do something different from time to time. This means if you’re doing the same type of activity for more than 30 minutes, take a break and do something different. This will give the muscles and joints you’re using repeatedly a break.
Usually, people who suffer from back pain know what triggers it, and then they find ways to either avoid the triggers or relieve the pain when it strikes. If you’re someone who doesn’t know what is causing your back pain, pay attention to the above because it’s likely one of them is probably the culprit to your relentless back pain.
Yoga may not what you really want to do, but it can help you with your back pain because it stretches your joints and soft tissues. In addition to that stretching, yoga can also improve blood circulation and spine flexibility. Improving muscle balance and strength can improve mild to severe lower bank pain.
When you first start doing yoga, be sure you start slow. While it may seem like it’s hard, it can be hard on your body. You should never stretch more than you can go because it can lead to an injury.
Try to do yoga in the early morning when your joints are the loosest. This will also help you throughout the day by reducing stiffness and aches in your back.
Meditation is highly effective for middle and lower back pain relief. It can also improve concentration and release endorphins to help you feel better mentally. Many people have been able to use meditation to relieve back symptoms because they can focus on the pain and ease it out of the body.
There are many apps on mobile devices that can help you meditate. You can also simply sit in a quiet, dark room for five to ten minutes a day and breathe in and out slowly ten times. As you take in a breath and exhale it, think about letting go of the pain in your back. Breathe it out of your body each time.
Meditation takes practice, so if it doesn’t work the first few times you try it, don’t give up on it. Your mind and body have to learn how to react to the practice.
Warm Pool or Bath
The buoyancy of water can relieve back pain within minutes. It can also relax muscles, which can further decrease the discomfort in the back. The best time to sit in a warm pool or bath is after exercising or being physical active, such as after a long day at work.
Be careful with hot tubs and making your bath too hot. You don’t want to burn yourself or cause dizziness or fainting because the temperature is too high. Always soak in water that is warm enough for you to be comfortable in it. If you can’t step into without wincing, it’s too hot.
Heat Patch Therapy
Heat patches can be very relieving to a painful back. You can usually buy them in convenience stores or you can use a warm compress. Simply put the hot patch on the back where it hurts and allows the heat to increase blood flow to the area. This promotes healing of what is causing the back pain and reduces inflammation.
You may want to consider adding essential oil to the heat patch or warm compress. Eucalyptus and lavender are two that can be effective in reducing pain.
Vitamin D3 Supplement
Vitamin D deficiency is common and can cause pain in many parts of the body. This essential vitamin can improve bone health, neuromuscular health, and immune system functioning. For back pain, it can increase the absorption of calcium in your body, which can increase bone strength.
There are many types of massages that can help with back pain:
- Therapeutic Massage: This massage targets specific areas of the body, so it relieves discomfort and pain.
- Deep Tissue Massage: Only go to a professional for this type of massage because injury is possible when done by someone inexperienced with it. This is because the technique reaches muscles and connective tissues deep down inside of the body.
- Swedish Massage: This is much gentler and uses long, circular movements to kneed, tap and vibrate muscles.
- Sports Massage: This one is performed on athletes, and it can prevent sports-related injuries.
- Shiatsu Massage: This is a Japanese style massage and it stimulates the body to heal itself, which is what you would want for back pain treatment.
A chiropractor will have you lie on a special table and perform spinal manipulation on you. This is done by hand, and it involves moving a joint in your spine until it hits its range followed by a light thrust. This is what is meant by getting an adjustment. This practice realigns the bones of your spine to make them straighter, which is what can help relieve back pain.
Following chiropractic care, you may be achy, stiff or tired, but it’s only temporary. As your body adjusts to the new alignment, you will start to feel the benefits from it.
Acupuncture began in China more than 2,500 years ago. It involves strategically inserting thin needles into the body at certain points. Chinese medicine believes that people have 2,000 points in their body that can be touched with the needles and produce therapeutic benefits. These points connect pathways and meridians and they create a flow of energy, which is called Qi. When these points are stimulated, it corrects the imbalance of Qi and that improves the flow of energy. This not only treats back pain but improves overall health.
Inversion therapy is effective for many people. It involves handing upside down with the head in the down position. Inversion therapy is not right for everyone, especially those with high blood pressure, heart disease or glaucoma.
When people hang upside down, they take pressure off their nerve roots and discs. This increases space between vertebrae.
Studies have shown that inversion therapy is ineffective for long-term relief. However, short-term relief can help back pain sufferers engage in other treatments that can provide long-term back pain relief.
Prolotherapy can relieve muscle and joint pain. It involves an injection of an irritant to part of a joint, such as a sugar solution. This solution triggers connective tissue growth, which can reduce pain. Many people will use prolotherapy along with another form of treatment, such as back exercises and spinal manipulation.
Natural Therapies for Back Pain Treatment
Chiropractic physician Dr. Viet Le and acupuncturist and herbologist Jung Cao specialize in holistic integrative solutions for back pain treatment. If you’re looking for an alternative to pain medication and surgery, contact us for a consultation. Our offices are conveniently located in Leesburg and Vienna. Call 703-729-5600 or 703-729-5600 for an appointment.