Back pain is so common, four out of five Canadians will suffer it at some point in their lives, according to Statistics Canada—and it’s a leading cause of missed work. The causes of back pain are so varied and numerous that a diagnosis is recommended if the pain is intense, or numbness or weakness are present.

Some common causes are awkward lifting, an accident, poor posture, overuse and weak core muscles, but if a slipped disc is the problem, extra care must be taken to ensure the nerves don’t suffer permanent damage. While physical therapies such as physiotherapy, osteopathy or chiropractic are often needed long term, almost everyone can benefit from the natural anti-inflammatory benefits of homeopathy. These remedies are of particular value to pregnant women and children anxious about side effects of medications, patients on medications who are worried about interactions, or those, like me, who prefer to avoid medications altogether except in emergencies.

Having existed for over 200 years, homeopathy is a natural system of medicine that works with the body to help resolve symptoms naturally, without side effects or danger of interactions, and is now used by over 300 million people worldwide. What makes homeopathy unique is that the remedy must be chosen carefully to suit the symptoms the person experiences, so with just a handful of remedies, homeopathy can quicken healing and help resolve most cases of back pain within a short period of time.  Below are my favourite homeopathic remedies: choose the one that suits the symptoms best. 

Top Remedies for Back Pain

1. Bryonia 30ch: sharp pain worse motion

One of my top homeopathic remedies for muscle pain, Bryonia works best for sharp, stitching or aching pains that come on during the slightest movement of any sort.  Lying very still and on the painful part may temporarily relieve, until the person feels compelled to change position.  Cold applications may also feel beneficial when this remedy is indicated.

2. Rhus toxicodendron  30ch: aching and stiffness better while moving

My other top homeopathic remedy for muscle pain, Rhus tox is excellent when the symptoms are opposite to Bryonia; Rhus tox works best for pain with stiffness that limbers up. While there is aching and pain on first getting up, once in motion, the pain temporarily improves and the person may actually feel restless and uncomfortable staying in one position for any length of time. Cold typically aggravates, while warmth relieves. These symptoms are common during back pain, so Rhus tox is frequently needed.

While Bryonia and Rhus tox are very common, there are times that other remedies are clearly indicated. Choose according to the symptoms:

3. Arnica 30ch: low back pain from overuse or injury

If the pain is aching and sore after an injury, a fall or too much digging in the garden, rest and Arnica is sure to help. Cold packs may bring some relief. Arnica is the first remedy to consider after a fall or injury.  If the pain is stiff and improves by limbering up, Rhus tox is the better choice.

4. Colocynthis 30ch:  sharp cramping sciatic pain

Colocynthis is most helpful for sciatic type pain that is sharp and cramping in the hip, typically improves by applying pressure or being in motion, or pains that shoot down the leg.  As the nerves are involved, warm applications may bring some solace.

4. Nux vomica 30ch: cramped low back better heat

An excellent remedy for the repercussions of stress and irritated nerves, think of Nux vomica for back pains that feel like a pulled muscle, with spasms sensitive to cold, touch, and better warmth and rest, though there may be an aggravation from lying down, at 3 am and in the morning. Turning over in bed is difficult. 

Typical Dosages: 

Acute pain is often when people turn to homeopathy and learn from personal experience about its wondrous effects. The 30ch potency is recommended here because it is widely available and tends to work quickly. Take 3-5 pills every 4 hours for 3 doses and re-evaluate. If there is some improvement, but the symptoms continue, repeat the remedy 1-3 times a day for up to three days: more often if symptoms intensify, and less often as they improve. If symptoms change and the remedy stops working, switch to the next best remedy. Never continue taking a remedy if the symptoms improve significantly, as it is important to allow the body to re-establish balance on its own.

How quickly do remedies work? It depends. Just last week I gave a carpenter Bryonia for a sharp lower back pain that was marked whenever he moved, and it worked within hours and was 90% by the next day, so he just continued working. On the other hand, I’ve given a remedy to a man in his 80’s with persistent sciatic pain that had gone on for weeks despite trying many therapies, and in this case the response was slow but with definite, steady improvement over days.

On a final note, self prescribing can be tricky and is not for everyone. Whenever in doubt, seek the advice of a homeopath who can guide you through a correct series of remedies that work best for your unique symptoms. And please use common sense: never use home remedies in place of a medical diagnosis when symptoms are severe or urgent.