Back pain will affect 80 percent of Americans at some point during their lives, and the cost of disability caused by back pain reaches $100 billion annually in terms of lost wages, decreased productivity, and medical care. If you’re one of the millions of Americans who suffer from back pain, you may be wondering what can be done to treat it. Will you be dependent on painkillers for the rest of your life? Is surgery the only option? Not necessarily. Here are some of the most popular, and effective, non-surgical and drug-free treatments for back pain:
Regular physical exercise can do a lot to improve back pain. For a start, it stimulates your brain to release endorphins, your body’s natural painkillers. In addition to relieving pain, endorphins can also ease the feelings of stress, depression, and anxiety that often come with chronic pain. Multiple studies have found that yoga can effectively reduce back pain by helping sufferers develop flexibility and strength.
2) Massage Therapy
Muscle tension can exacerbate chronic pain, and at least one study has shown that, for some people, massage therapy can bring significant relief from back pain. For up to 39 percent of back pain sufferers, regular massage can completely relieve pain. Even for those who don’t experience complete relief, massage can be more effective than over-the-counter pain relievers, which is one reason why back pain treatment centers often recommend it.
3) Chiropractic Care
Chiropractic care seeks to restore joint mobility in the spine through manual manipulation. Chiropractors are trained to treat muscle injury, pain, inflammation, and strain through the application of gentle, controlled force to bones and joints. Manipulation is believed to restore normal joint function and ease strain on muscles and joints, to promote healing. The effectiveness of chiropractic care for back pain has been well-studied, and it has been found to be a safe means of back pain relief, that is at least as effective as other means of treatment.
According to the tenets of traditional Chinese medicine, life-giving energy, or qi, flows throughout the body along pathways known as meridians. When the body is healthy and pain free, qi is flowing through the meridians freely, but when the flow of qi weakens, becomes too strong, or is blocked, pain and disease occurs. Acupuncture uses extremely fine needles to restore the normal flow of qi and promote healing. While this ancient theory may or may not be accurate, researchers have found that acupuncture can provide short-term relief from back pain.
While it’s not fully understood how meditation works to ease pain, researchers have found that meditation can significantly reduce pain, and increase sufferers’ acceptance of pain. The best part is you don’t need to be a seasoned Zen master in order to feel the effects. Even beginners can enjoy meditation’s benefits for pain relief.
In hypnotherapy, patients enter a deep, trance-like state of relaxation in which they are believed to be more open to suggestion. Hypnotherapists take advantage of this trance-like to help patients make changes in their thought and behavior patterns that can treat psychological, behavioral, and health problems, including chronic pain. Studies have found that hypnotherapy can significantly reduce pain, and can be more effective than non-hypnotherapeutic treatments.
7) Alexander Technique
The Alexander Technique is a type of physical therapy that uses education to treat back pain, by teaching sufferers how to have better posture and break habits, like slouching, that can contribute to increased muscle tension, pain, and decreased function. The effects can be significant and long-lasting.
8) Core Exercises
The muscles of your abdomen and back have a crucial role to play in supporting your spine, but when these muscles are weak, they can’t do their job. Making core exercises a part of your daily routine can go a long way towards easing your back pain.
9) Hot and Cold Therapy
Cold therapy reduces inflammation, and can slow down nerve impulses to prevent painful spasms. Heat therapy promotes healing by stimulating blood flow, and can dampen the pain signals traveling to your brain. The judicious use of hot and cold therapy can provide temporary pain relief, and promote healing of back injuries.
10) Hamstring Stretches
Often, the cause of your back pain isn’t in your back at all, but in another part of your body, such as your hamstrings. Tight hamstrings can put stress on the joints of your lower back, causing pain. Stretch your hamstrings twice a day to find relief.
If you’re looking for a drug-free, non-surgical means of treating back pain, you have plenty of options. Exercise, physical therapy, acupuncture, hypnosis, and more have been found to be effective for the treatment of back pain. By mixing and matching different therapies, you could soon find that your back pain is a thing of the past.