This week one of my patients sent me an e-mail asking about an article that he had recently read discussing a link between caffeine and lower back pain. After checking out the article, I discovered that it made some good points, especially for those people who seem to struggle to get their lower back pain to completely go away, even after chiropractic care.
The main point made in this article was that caffeine intake tends to stress our adrenal glands. The adrenals are small organs that sit on top of our kidneys. Their main function is the production of a number of hormones including adrenaline, cortisol and testosterone. Many of the hormones produced by the adrenal glands are known as “stress hormones” since they are produced by the body during periods of increased stress. However, the adrenal glands also play an important role in the regulation of blood pressure, as well as many other important functions of the body.
But How Does This Affect Your Back?
When we drink caffeinated beverages, like coffee, sodas, or tea, our adrenal glands are stimulated. This stimulation leads to the energy boost associated with caffeine. However, when our caffeine intake increases, as in daily or even multiple daily doses, our adrenal glands can become fatigued.
When the adrenals become fatigued, or weakened, the body sends nutrients to the adrenals to help them recover. The problem is, the nutrients sent to the adrenals in this case are usually supposed to be going somewhere else in the body. The body knows how important the adrenals are, and will sacrifice other areas to help restore adrenal function.
So what area in the same vicinity of the adrenal glands gets sacrificed? Your lower back. More specifically, the ligaments and tendons that support your lower back. The most common area affected is the sacroiliac region.
In cases like this, when a patient has a weak lower back, I find it is almost impossible to get their adjustments to hold. No matter how often they get adjusted, the spine continues to become misaligned, simply because their back isn’t strong enough to hold the correction. This is why specific exercises are an essential part of your chiropractic care.
How Do You Correct Adrenal Fatigue?
As you may have guessed already, one of the ways to help repair weak adrenal glands is to decrease or eliminate your caffeine intake. Although I know for most people this may seem impossible, but try starting small. Start with giving up one caffeinated beverage per week and then gradually work your way from there. Give it a try and see if you notice a difference.
Another cause of weakened adrenals can be that you are not getting enough rest. Always make sure that you are getting at least six hours of sleep every night, and if possible, aim for closer to eight hours per night. A diet high in grains and sugars can also lead to adrenal fatigue, so reducing these from your diet can help as well.
If you are having issues with your back that just won’t seem to go away, or if you notice that your adjustments aren’t holding the way that they should, your adrenals may be a cause. Try getting some extra rest, and limiting caffeine and sugars from your diet. Your body, especially your adrenal glands, will thank you!