Back Problem in Japan

by Kevin R Burns
(Kanagawa, Japan)

Back Problem in Japan, Have you put your back out while living in Japan? It is not fun, no matter where you do it! I know, I have done it countless times now.

Caveat: (I am not a doctor, so take all of this at your own risk. This is not intended as medical advice.)

I first put out my back at age 34. My friend Doug commented I guess you are getting old. He meant well but I was not amused at the time. Now that I have no doubt that I am old, I understand he was trying to be helpful. I guess I shouldn`t have put him into the full pretzel! Just the half-pretzel would have sufficed!

Indeed, back problems can really be a pain! (Sorry couldn`t resist.) Once they flare up you must deal with them, however I think what most of us want to accomplish is prevent them from happening ever again.

You are lucky as in Japan, there are a lot of resources, elixirs(medicines), and people who may be able to help.

Back Problem in Japan - Homeopathic Medicine: Arnica Montana

I have taken the homeopathic medicine called arnica with some success. My back problems tend to correct themselves very quickly. And I do mean even after putting my back out and not being able to walk the first day. The claims made for arnica include quick recovery from backache or putting your back out.


When my back hurts I use a corset wrapped around the area which restricts its movement and lends support. I bought a magnetic corset from the Discovery Channel Online Store. The idea is that the magnetic tape in the corset will attract blood to the area, speeding healing. I like the idea of it and feel it probably does speed up the healing process.

Back Problem in Japan - Western Medicine for Backache

You can of course go to a Western (non-Japanese) doctor in Japan or to a Japanese doctor. Doctors will examine you, poke and prod you and ask where you hurt. (My wife likes to do this to me too! Maybe she should have been a doctor, instead of a slave driver, whoa, where did that come from! Ikumi doesn`t read my websites thankfully, do you darling?!)

The doctor if he is good will want to take an x-ray or possibly and MRI of your back just to be sure about what she/he is dealing with. Some diseases can mimick backache.

The doctor will tell you to rest and give you cold compresses to put on to keep it cold. He will tell you not to warm up the area that hurts.

One medicine you can buy over the counter in Japan but is onlyavailable by prescription in North America is Voltarin. You take 25mg of Voltarin 3 times a day after meals. It is an anti-inflammatory. A friend claims it works for him. The small family pharmacies carry it in Japan. Just ask for voltarin.

Back Problem in Japan - Disclaimer: Though my father and brother were/are both doctors, and my sister in law was a nurse, I am not in any way connected with the medical profession. (I wish I were! Maybe then I wouldn`t be driving a funky, 13 year old Mitsubishi van!) I am often afraid my brother will fall off his wallet and break a leg. Be careful Gray! I am a writer and teacher. So all claims made by me here should not be taken as advice. In fact, I wouldn`t believe anything I say. I know me!!!!

Acupuncture and Massage

I have found long needled accunpuncture the most helpful for back problems, coupled with chiropractic adjustment and massage.Dr. Greg Sampers is a miracle worker in Tokyo. His clinic is in an unassuming space in Roppongi near the Oedo line. He is not cheap however, if you do not have foreign medical insurance.He does not accept Japanese insurance. If you have severe problems, he and his Japanese partner are a God-send!

Back Problem in Japan - Short-Needle Accupuncture & Sports Massage

These clinics are located throughout Japan.

Short-needle accupuncture and sports massage practitioners are my second choice. They are also cheap as they accept Japanese insurance and the prices for a massage and adjustment are very reasonable. The Japanese medical system, coupled with its insurance system is great. It is one America might want to emulate.

Preventing Backache

Learn some good back exercises and stomach exercises and practice them religiously. Prevention is the best approach. Lose a few kilos. You are probably carrying extra weight that your back muscles must support everyday.

My poor back! I want to cry out of pity! Just a sec, I need a tissue.

Weight Training

Join a sports club that involves weight training and have them do a 3D bodyscan. It will prove enlightening. I just did one the other day and they found my stomach muscles were strong but my back muscles were weak. So they designed a training program that will strengthen my back.


As we age we become more inflexible. Yoga helps to correct this and get us back to where we were in our 20s. I never put my back out back then. Yoga loosens you up, strengthens you in important places, and you can even do it with a DVD at home.

I do recommend joining a class at least from time to time to have a teacher, tell you what you are doing wrong and correct your form however.

Tai Chi

Tai Chi is another from of exercise/martial art that can help your flexibility, strengthen you, and prevent back problems.

Back Problem in Japan - Rolfing

No I am not talking about your college buddy back in the dorm room after a party, I am talking about rolfing, the form of body adjustment, designed to get you moving like your body was meant to move. A good rolfer will correct your posture and the way you move. Perhaps the way you stand, sit and move is causing your back problems.

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