Back pain is a prevalent problem. According to Carey and Freburger, 80% of Americans experience some form of back pain in their lifetime. It may be caused by injury, illness, weak muscles or repetitive movement.
The level of pain may vary from one person to the next. While some may experience a minor inconvenience, to others the pain can be crippling.
Despite its prevalence, back pain has always been a hard problem to shake. It has no single proven cure. While some may prefer traditional medical approaches, you can use alternative methods that address the root of the problem.
We have outlined some of them below.
Do more exercises
Exercise may probably be the last thing anyone dealing with back pain would think about. Why engage in an activity that aggravates the same pain you’re struggling to eliminate?
However, gentle motion exercises have been shown to alleviate pain especially if the pain is as a result of weak muscles.
Focus on exercises that strengthen your core muscles. The stronger these muscles are, the lower the chances of injuring your lower back. Simple activities may include light stretches, walking, swimming and gentle yoga poses.
Tight hamstrings contribute to lower back pain though we often overlook them. If the hamstring muscles in the back of your thighs tighten, you can stretch your lower back and sacroiliac joints causing more pain. Stretching your hamstring twice a day can help prevent this problem.
Always exercise caution while working out. If you do exercises wrongly, you may cause even more damage to your back. Before settling into an exercise routine, seek guidance from a physician, chiropractor, physical therapist or any other health practitioner.
Use cold therapy
Cold therapy is an efficient way to treat back pain. It can help relieve pain in a quick, easy way and is especially useful on a sore back resulting from lower back muscle strain.
Cold therapy helps to relieve pain in a variety of ways:
- It reduces inflammation and swelling. Inflammation causes most back pains. Addressing it, therefore, helps to alleviate the pain.
- It works as a local anesthetic in slowing down nerve impulses thus interacting pain-spasm reactions
- It numbs the sore tissues thus relieving pain.
You can apply cold to the affected area using a bag of ice or just taking a cold shower, but the most effective form of cold therapy is Ice massage. According to Stephen H. Hochschuler, we should apply ice massage therapy within 24 to 48 hours after an injury occurs to be more effective.
The cold causes the veins to contract reducing blood circulation. Removing the cold causes the veins to overcompensate. Blood rushes to the affected area and nourishes it with the necessary nutrients to accelerate healing.
Use heat therapy
Heat therapy helps to relieve pain and accelerates the healing process. You can apply it in the form of heat wraps, hot baths, heating pads, warm gel packs, etc.
Muscle spasm can create sensations in the lower back ranging from minimal discomfort to excruciating pain.
According to Vert Mooney, you can use heat therapy to relieve pain caused by muscle spasm and tightness in the lower back. Heat therapy can provide relief from back pain in the following ways:
• It causes the blood vessels surrounding the lumbar spine to dilate. The flow of blood increases and oxygen and nutrients nourish the muscles thus helping to heal damaged tissue.
• Applying heat to the lower back stimulates the sensory receptors. This, in turn, decreases transmission of pain signals to the brain and partially relieves the discomfort.
• Heat stretches the muscles, connective tissues and adhesions. It reduces stiffness, increases flexibility and provides an overall feeling of comfort.
Watch your posture
Something as simple as the wrong posture can cause numerous problems in the long-term. It puts unnecessary strain on your back which usually builds up over time.
Most people don’t have good posture when going about their daily activities. According to Mary Ann Wilmarth, even something as simple as leaning over a sink in the wrong way can put unnecessary pressure on your back.
If you’re always sitting at your desk all day, you may experience chronic low back pain. Avoid this by standing up and walking around one in a while. If your job involves standing all day, get some comfortable shoes and lift up your feet a couple of times during the day.
Always maintain the best posture possible. If you slump, your back may have a hard time supporting your weight. Exercise caution too when lifting heavy objects.
Don’t ever bend over from the waist. Bend the knees instead. If you’re a lady, keep off the high heels as much as possible.
Get adequate Sleep
Pain is among the leading causes of insomnia. Almost two-thirds of the people dealing with chronic pain are also dealing with some sleeping disorder. Interestingly, the reverse is also true. If you don’t get adequate sleep, your back pain can worsen.
According to Stephanie Burket, the close relationship between the two makes it harder to treat one without the other. If you want to eliminate pain, you must address your sleeping problem too if any.
Although the amount of sleep is crucial, your sleeping position is equally important. If you’re a back sleeper, put pillows under your knees.
If you‘re a side sleeper, place the pillow between your knees. Sleeping on the stomach may twist your head and neck and strain your back.
Visit an acupuncture practitioner
Acupuncture is a form of treatment that aims at simulating around two thousand points in your body. Although the procedure employs different techniques, the most popular is the use of thin metallic needles to prick the skin.
The practitioner will place needles at various points on your skin. It is believed that the process stimulates the release of opioid peptides, which have an analgesic effect. Additionally, changes in blood flow regulation help to reduce inflammation and pain.
If you want to undergo acupuncture, please look for a licensed practitioner. Ensure that they have experience with back pain, too.
Get chiropractic care
Chiropractic philosophy emphasizes your body’s innate healing abilities and shuns the over-reliance on band-aids such as drugs and surgery. You should consider seeing a chiropractor if you’re dealing with back pains.
A 1993 study revealed that chiropractic management is better than allopathic medical management as far as cost, safety and effectiveness. It concludes that we could save a lot of money if only lower back pains were handles by chiropractors.
According to Dr. Mercola, Chiropractic care goes beyond pushing bones into place; it also affects fundamental physiological processes that influence DNA repair and oxidative stress. Other than reducing pain, it can also correct deeper dysfunctions inside your body.
Brew white willow bark.
You can get willow bark from various types of willow trees including black willow, white willow, pussy willow, purple willow, crack willow and European Willow. The bark was used by ancient Egyptians to treat inflammation and pain.
Willow bark was also popular during Hippocrates time. People chewed on it to relieve pain and fever. Like aspirin, it is also used to treat headaches, muscle pain, gout, menstrual cramps, rheumatoid arthritis and a disease of the spine known as ankylosing spondylitis.
You can choose to brew willow back as tea or apply it externally. Avoid the herb if you have an allergic reaction to aspirin.
Release Natural endorphins
Endorphins are hormones produced naturally in our bodies. What you probably don’t know is that they can work just as good compared to any manufactured pain medication. You can promote the release of endorphins through massage therapy, yoga and meditation.
After being released in the body, the hormones block pain signals preventing them from registering in your brain. They help to alleviate pain and discomfort.
Endorphins can also relieve anxiety, stress and depression all which are associated with chronic back pain.
Engage your brain
How your brain interprets pain signals determines how you perceive pain. It is possible to train your mind to reduce and ignore pain signals. Developing this skill will allow you to have some form of control over pain.
According to Susan Heitler, the mind is the most powerful tool in your possession that you can use to influence most back pain. Every single thought you have has a significant impact throughout the body.
Whenever you’re afraid, the body prepares itself for a fight by increasing heart rate, muscle tension and blood pressure thus decreasing your blood flow and suppressing your healing abilities.
Positive thoughts have an opposite effect. Eliminate back pain by:
- Not worrying
- Expressing your emotions
- Processing your trauma
Constant back pain can affect your personal life. It can limit your ability to get things done. Traditional medical approaches can help alleviate pain, but they may cause additional harm to your body, too.
The simple alternatives outlined above will spare you from any harm and treat the underlying cause of the back pain.
Don’t just sit back and let back pain control your life. Try any of the non-invasive methods above and lead a pain-free life. Remember to seek advice from your physician before trying any of them.