I read an article recently in The Daily Mail Good Health about how antidepressants may reduce chronic lower back pain.
In the journal Pain Medicine, a study led by Fukushima Medical University in Japan, 150 patients were given the antidepressant duloxetine once a day for a year. Their pain levels dropped significantly from the second week onwards. One theory, they say, is that antidepressants raise levels of the brain chemical serotonin in the spinal cord, which reduces the pain.
Serotonin is a contributor to feelings of well-being and happiness. The NHS point out how they think serotonin works. It’s thought that SSRIs work by increasing serotonin levels in the brain.
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter (a messenger chemical that carries signals between nerve cells in the brain). It’s thought to have a good influence on mood, emotion and sleep.
After carrying a message, serotonin is usually reabsorbed by the nerve cells (known as “reuptake”). SSRIs work by blocking (“inhibiting”) reuptake, meaning more serotonin is available to pass further messages between nearby nerve cells.
It would be too simplistic to say that depression and related mental health conditions are caused by low serotonin levels, but a rise in serotonin levels can improve symptoms and make people more responsive to other types of treatment, such as CBT.
I have taken a number of different types of antidepressants for my back pain and they have swapped me around every now and then to try a different one. At the moment I am taking Nortriptyline which I have found the best of all to help me get a more comfortable sleep. The only problem with all these types of medications is that you can soon find them hard to come off if you have taken them for a while, but if they work then that’s all that matters.
Turmeric has many healing powers and has become the latest supplement being used for a number of complaints including pain, improve brain function and even tackle cancer.
The root which comes from India, is apparently being added to everything from health supplements to juices and beauty products says The Mail’s Good Health.
Professor Susan Hewlings, a dietitian at Central Michigan University who co-authored an extensive 2017 scientific review on the spice said that ‘Increasing evidence suggest curcumin reduces levels of damaging inflammatory protiens released by our cells and therefore has the potential to help many inflammation-based disease like arthrtitis, dementia, diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Even the NHS dietitian Dr Sarah Schenker says that ‘the research on turmeric’s anti-inflammatory effects in the body are very promising.’
Turmeric is available as a tea, in a capsules, as a drink shot, as a spread, as a daily oral spray, as a drink, and even as a clay mask for your face, but before you start taking this on a regular basis you should check it with your Doctor first. The Bad Back Company sell the 10,000mg Turmeric Tablets for £19.95
Back pain is on the rise according to the Shropshire Star. They write that newly-released analysis by Imperial College London shows that 56,154 people in the Shropshire Council area and 29,589 people in Telford and Wrekin reported suffering from back pain in 2012.
It accounted for 18 per cent of the population, slightly higher than the England average of 17 per cent.
The data was collected from Public Health England’s Health Survey, and analysed by Imperial College for the charity Versus Arthritis.
Only people who were in pain at the time of the survey, and had been in pain for at least three months, were counted in the figures.
That means the data is likely to be an underestimate of the prevalence of the condition, since acute bouts of back pain can be resolved within a three-month period.
Three out of five declared sufferers in Shropshire reported having severe back pain – a total of 33,552 people.
Almost two-thirds of declared sufferers in Telford and Wrekin – 18,921 people – also reported having severe back pain.
NHS England say Back pain is the largest single cause of disability in the UK, with lower back pain alone accounting for 11% of the total disability of the UK population. Referrals for spinal surgery are increasing year on year and a growing number of patients are waiting longer than 18 weeks from referral to treatment.
While waiting to go into the Doctors I sat reading a Good Housekeeping Health Living magazine. It had a brilliant article on finding the right type of meditation to suit your mood. These are some of the tips to help you find the techniques that work best for you.
- If you need flexibility then look at the apps that are available for help with all kinds of needs from performance to sleep. They recommend Headspace or Happier and Calm apps.
- Headspace also runs bite-size guided meditations for anyone who is busy (who isn’t?) All you do is sign up for a free trial at Headspace or you could find meditation courses online but they state they can be expensive from
- If you are having trouble sleeping (that’s me) then they say there is evidence that mindfulness works. The technique that has the most mental health studies supporting it is mindfulness-based ‘Cognitive Therapy‘, and there is an abundance of details online.
- If you prefer to be taught personally then they recommend Vedic and Transcendental Meditation which are courses you can start with a one-to-one lesson when you’re given your mantra. Find Vedic and Transcendental Meditation from this website.
- If your feeling angry or lonely then they suggest you try loving-kindness meditation, where you repeat a positive mantra. Visit Ten Percent Happier for details on this.
With a number of different types of massage available from a physiotherapist to a beauty consultant, and from deep tissue massage to aromatherapy massage, choosing the right one for you is important and sometimes a bit baffling.
This is a list of FOUR of the most used massage treatment for pain and relaxation.
- Ayurvedic Massage they say is for when you are running on empty. There are different types of ayurvedic massage but if you’re feeling tired and out of sync then this is the one for you. Your body is massaged with warm herbal oils which they choose according to your Ayurvedic body type (107 Marma energy points). They then press these points but only gently and they are massaged in an anticlockwise or clockwise direction in order to detoxify and nourish your body. They say it is generally a relaxing experience and you can expect to come away feeling energised. To look for practitioners in your area head to the Ayurvedic Professional Association website.
- A Deep Tissue Massage they say is for when you are carrying serious tension and pain. A deep tissue massage helps to release chronic tension and pain. The therapist will give you a full-body massage ( or less if you prefer that) and they will go deep down to release muscle fibres and pain. They use aromatherapy oils like Lavender for pain and Rosemary for stiff joints. The touch is quite firm (you know you’re having the massage) and the strokes are slow, with deep finger pressure to help loosen the muscles and get your circulation moving around. This type of massage is excellent for low back pain, migraines, anxiety and jet lag. Head down to the Neals Yard Remedies website to find a local practitioner.
- An Aromatherapy Massage they say is for the anxious and stressed. They use oils like a deep tissue massage but a good therapist can make you feel a million dollars. It is a wonderful massage to unwind and let go of your tension which can then also help with the pain. Their consultation will have questions on your lifestyle as they say this helps them to choose the right essential oils. Oils such as Frankincense, Patchouli and Vetiver encourage rest and relaxation. The strokes from an aromatherapy massage are from light to deep depending or where you carry your stress and you should leave feeling a sense of deep relaxation. I couldn’t agree more, this is my favourite of all massages. To find your local therapist head to the International Federation of Professional Aromatherapist.
- A Lymphatic Drainage Massage they say is for when you have joint pain and inflammation. It is used to detox the lymph nodes to allow the body to flush it all out. It can help with joint swelling, arthritis, migraine, fluid retention, digestive issues, fatigue, immunity and much more. This massage starts with the lymph nodes in the neck and the junctions of the large lymph channels found on both sides of the body. The massage is a gentle rhythmic pumping technique which stimulates the lymphatic vessels which carry substances vital to the defence of the body and removes waste products. It is deeply relaxing and can leave you feeling tired at first but then you will feel much better. It has been known to help with improved immunity problems, better sleep, headaches and anxiety. To find your local therapist head to the Manual Lymphatic Drainage UK website.