Lower back pain seems inevitable for most of us: It’s been described as the single leading cause of disability worldwide by The 2010 Global Burden of Disease Study and something 80 percent of Americans will experience at some time of their lives.*
But did you know most lower-back pain we experience, including herniated discs, can be traced to mineral deficiencies in our bodies?
Surely, some of the back pain scenarios I encounter in my practice as a chiropractic physician are the result of real trauma—injuries sustained in a car accident, for example. But in the majority of cases, back pain is the result of muscle spasms that were brought on by a deficiency in the minerals calcium and magnesium.
The pain and injury happens slowly, and almost imperceptibly: Since muscle moves bones, the muscle spasm pulls the bones out of alignment. The discs in our lower backs become herniated due to our body’s lack of calcium-magnesium and hydration. This causes our muscles to contract and spasm even more, squeezing the disc out toward the opposite side, which pinches the nerve and radiates pain to the other side of the body. The muscle contraction forces our bodies into a lopsided posture where we use them in an imbalanced and inefficient way, which results in injury and pain.
Using a neuro-muscular therapy technique I’ve developed, I correct the posture and skeletal structure by focusing only on the muscles that are contracted—the ones pulling the body out of alignment. A chiropractic adjustment is only prudent and beneficial when the muscles have balanced the structure. We will experience pain if a spinal adjustment is attempted when our muscles are in chronic spasm and are unwilling to release. Even if a chiropractor were successful in obtaining an adjustment under these conditions repeated treatments (3x per week) would still be necessary because the muscles spasms would continue to pull the spine out of alignment. When a patient is in severe spasm it’s best to treat the muscles and mineral deficiency before attempting an adjustment. This not only prevents further injury but maintains alignment for a much longer period of time without multiple visits each week..
Mineral deficiency is destructive to our overall health because it creates an acidic or low-pH condition in our bodies, which causes our cells to malfunction. Our cells—sensing the hostile, acidic environment outside the cell—refuse to engage in the healthy exchange of nutrients and water. The cells withdraw instead, where they stew in metabolic waste, which makes them sick.
Causes of Mineral Deficiency
The culprits of calcium-magnesium deficiency and an acidic or low-pH condition in our bodies include stress, coffee (caffeine), meats, sugars (refined carbohydrates), and sodas containing phosphoric acid.
Stress, in particular, often leads to a condition known as Adrenal Fatigue. Adrenals are walnut-sized glands that sit just above our kidneys. They churn out high levels of the hormone cortisol, usually during short-term periods of high stress. But our busy, modern lifestyles cause the adrenal glands to be overworked and burned out, resulting in adrenal fatigue. When this happens our body’s cortisol levels drop precipitously and we’re no longer able to respond effectively to pressured, stressful situations. It’s at this point that most of us resort to false forms of energy found in caffeine, stimulating drinks, and sodas. But this only compounds the problem and makes it harder for us to feel the natural energy our bodies would normally produce after having a good night’s sleep. In addition to stressful situations, our bodies also require increased amounts of calcium-magnesium during times of transition like infancy, puberty, pregnancy, menses, menopause/andropause, and during times of sickness and fever.
Symptoms of Mineral Deficiency
The concepts of mineral deficiency and adrenal fatigue may be lesser known, but we’re all too familiar with their symptoms: General pain and stiffness; back pain; chronic fatigue, decreased sleep and increased irritability; arthritis; and sugar cravings—especially chocolate in the afternoon. What’s more, the adrenal’s reduced ability to control the soaring cortisol levels inhibits the body’s ability to keep inflammation in check, triggering allergies like hay fever and skin conditions like dermatitis and eczema.
Our bodies require an alkaline condition between the hours of 3 am to 5 am each morning, and if our blood is mineral deficient it will rob the calcium-magnesium it needs from other parts of the body on a daily basis. When calcium is taken from our teeth it results in grinding, and when our jaw muscles are deprived it can lead to clenching and TMJ.
The loss of calcium-magnesium also decreases our digestive functions, resulting in malabsorption syndrome and many other digestive complaints. Weak bone health conditions like osteopenia and osteoporosis can occur if the mineral deficiency remains in the body over many years. Weak bone health afflicts 25 million Americans, according to recent findings.
Loss of precious minerals also weakens our hearts: Magnesium and calcium are essential for our heart muscle to pump blood throughout our bodies. Mineral deficiency can also affect us emotionally, triggering anxiety and depression.
Recovery from Mineral Deficiency
The elimination of coffee and processed sugar is highly recommended for mineral deficiency recovery, even as we seek to add increased levels of calcium-magnesium back into our diet.
But all calcium and magnesium supplements are not created equal. Our bodies can absorb liquid and powdered forms of calcium and magnesium body ten times faster than gel caps. What’s more, the compressed tablet forms found in popular vitamin shops are impossible for the body to absorb. Our bodies quickly dump the minerals found in compressed tablet forms, since they’re often made of inorganic substances like chalk and oyster shells, which the body can’t absorb.
Dark, leafy greens should be a good source of calcium, but have lost their efficacy because of the poor, de-mineralized soil we use today. A high quality greens powder is therefore highly recommended. Traditionally, dairy is thought to be an excellent source of calcium, but the pasteurization process—designed to kill bad bacteria—also kills the active enzymes that bring about calcium absorption. What’s more, our bodies won’t absorb calcium at all without the perfect balance of magnesium. The protein found in dairy products, casein, is an extremely large protein molecule that’s indigestible to the human body. Dairy consumption causes mucus to form in our in our intestines, further impeding our body’s absorption of other foods.
When our blood is acidic in order to maintain homeostasis between the hours of 3- 5 am it is looking to be alkaline, which means the blood and organs need to maintain one percent of the body’s calcium at all times to function properly. I work with clients to achieve a balanced pH level of 6.8 to 7.0, which we do by testing the first urine of the morning with PH strips to determine the body`s mineral deficiencies: If it’s in the 5.0`s or low 6.0 range then the body is extremely acidic.
Zyto diagnostic testing can determine which forms of calcium and magnesium work best with your body`s individual needs. You won’t be able to use calcium right away if your kidneys are weak, so we’ll recommend strengthening the kidneys with greens and other liquid minerals before using calcium and magnesium supplements. I typically recommend powdered forms of calcium-magnesium like Coral Legend mixed with liquid Aloe, which is 100-percent absorbable by the body.
If you have questions or would like to set up an appointment to discuss your lower back pain, please click here to email me at Dr. Susan Seven-Sky.
* Vallfors B. Acute, Sub acute and Chronic Low Back Pain: Clinical Symptoms, Absenteeism and Working Environment. Scan J Rehab Med Suppl 1985; 11: 1-98.