About 80% of the world’s population experiences low back pain at least once in their lifetime, making the pain a very common health problem nowadays. Low back pain is also one of the most common causes of absence from work. The condition is known by many names such as lumbago or “hexenschuss”, which translates to witch stab that precisely describes the sudden emergence of excruciating pain.

What is low back pain?

Our spine consists of an anatomically complicated set of vertebrae – cartilage rings that are related to a system of muscles, nerves, blood vessels and ligaments. The vertebrae sit in a tube shaped canal through which the spinal cord and nerve roots of our extremities pass.

Due to the constant mechanical action of the load and the numerous responsibilities (it helps us stand upright), the spine can get overworked. Some of its parts such as the cervical, thoracic and lumbar part have a different range of motion – for example, the neck is mobile, while the breast part has low mobility. Over time, degenerative changes in the spine can become a source of pain.

Risk category

People who work tough physical jobs or stand for several hours a day as well as older people are most exposed to the risk of low back pain.

Treatment and prevention

The comfrey herb, which can be found on meadows and ditches near water, has been proven to relieve low back pain. An ointment made from comfrey extract has been able to relieve the pain in just 5 days in one study which examined 120 people with low and upper back pain. The study was conducted by a team of scientists at the German Sports University in Bonn, and the results were published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

Comfrey has a beet-like root and large heavy leaves. It has been used to block pain for centuries, and studies in the past have also proven its efficiency when dealing with different types of pain. The gel form of the plantcan be used against pain and dislocation of the joints caused by osteoarthritis, while comfrey capsules and supplements should be avoided as they can be toxic to the liver.