When an itchy back is more than just dry skin

Volume 6    |    Issue 34

Does your back itch? If so, you’re not alone. Nearly 10% of the population has to deal this problem. And it’s very irritating.

That’s how Mike described it to me. He said the middle of his back itches all the time. When a shirt touches it. When he gets out of the shower and dries off. When he’s sitting in his recliner. It just itches.

Most people think the frustrating itch is due to skin dryness. This can contribute to the problem, so using a skin moisturizer like Système 41's Moisturizing Hand & Body Crème can help. But with this type of itch, it’s just a temporary fix. That’s because there’s a deeper problem.

Until recently, no one knew why this problem was so common or what caused it. Turns out, the constant itching is due to a nerve impingement in a spinal nerve. This doesn’t mean you have severe spinal damage. It just means there’s a nerve getting pinched around the spine. Interestingly, the most common place for the itch is right between the shoulder blades. It’s usually worse on one side or the other (typically the left side). And something as simple as a spinal calcified spur can cause it.

Spinal calcified spurs are common as we age and it’s why this itch almost always affects people over 45. These happen when the ligaments and tendons harden. You can get them just about anywhere on your body. As the calcification grows, it can pinch or squeeze your nerves, which innervates the skin and causes the itch.

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So how do you treat the itch? First, you have to treat the calcification. This starts with taking more magnesium (1,000 mg daily or up to bowel tolerance). However, magnesium alone may not solve this problem. Since the itch is usually on the left side of the spine, it tells me sodium might be part of the solution. So talk to your doctor about possibly trying intravenous sodium thiosulfate (STS). This is a great remedy for calcification. In fact, it can help prevent kidney stones.

Next, see a chiropractor. Mike told his chiropractor about his problem and that it could be a pinched nerve in the middle spine. His chiropractor worked on his ribs and found that it loosened up his spine. The itching quickly responded. While it didn’t go away, his back itched much less than before.

Finally, treat the nerves. If the squeezing damages the nerves, you’ll need to take nutrients that help the nerves heal. Nutrients like acetyl-l-carnitine and alpha-lipoic acid, along with the B vitamins, can help heal the nerves and reduce or eliminate the itch. You can find these and other nerve-healing nutrients in Advanced Nerve Support.

By the way, some doctors will suggest using an over-the-counter cortisone cream. These might give some temporary relief, but the skin in the back is extremely thick and the nerve problem is so deep the cream doesn’t get to the root of the problem. So your doctor may give you a stronger prescription cream. These can work, but this would be a last resort in my book. If nothing else works, it might be worth trying. But these creams are potent and can damage the skin, causing redness, burning, itching (the problem you’re trying to stop), and peeling (to name just a few of the potential problems). Be careful you don’t exchange one problem for a worse problem.

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About Steve Kroening, ND

For over 25 years, Editor-In-Chief Steve Kroening has worked hand-in-hand with some of the nation's top doctors, including Drs. Frank Shallenberger, Janet Zand, Nan Kathryn Fuchs, William Campbell Douglass, and best-selling author James Balch. Steve is the author of the book Practical Guide to Home Remedies. As a health journalist, Steve's articles have appeared in countless magazines, blogs, and websites.

Steve researches breakthrough cures and treatments you won't hear about from mainstream medicine or even other "alternative" writers. He writes in a friendly, easy-to-read style that always gives you the power to guide your own health choices and do more research on your own.