Back Pain Help Comes in Many Forms
Back pain seems to hit many of my friends with regularity. This can be debilitating, undermining the ability to work and interact with families. Chronic pain often leads to depression. There are many different causes of lower back pain, each with its own recommended solution. Surgery is often an option and can help in many cases. But it’s worth exploring other, less invasive remedies first.
Recently, I was reading an article in the online Natural Health magazine that detailed some alternatives that are available to those looking for a complementary solution to their pain.
The author compiled approaches to back pain from an orthopedic surgeon, a yoga therapist and a chiropractor.
The surgeon diagnosed the most probable cause of the pain as degeneration of discs due to genetics, injury or too much sitting. The recommended treatment included rest, alternating heat and cold packs and stretching, for acute pain. For chronic pain, he recommended avoiding repetitive injury, improving core strength, and stretching. Surgery would be an option for those who are not helped by these methods.
The yoga therapist indicated that “chronic pain sufferers often are frustrated and depressed; they feel betrayed by their bodies.” She said that yoga helps these feelings because of the emotional component, which helps sufferers rebuild body confidence. She recommended gentle yoga, with conscious breathing to calm the nervous system, thus reducing pain-causing inflammation in the body. Core stretching and strengthening poses help to develop the muscles supporting the spine. Similarly, pilates exercises also help to build core strength and prevent injury. Regular pilates work frequently restores function and helps to manage or eliminate pain.
Yoga therapists and other complementary medicine practitioners can be found at Alternative Health Directory.
The chiropractor said that back pain can be caused by joints around the spine becoming constricted (by long hours of sitting), creating muscle and ligament tightness. He suggested that a chiropractic adjustment would stretch tight ligaments to improve joint motion and position. He indicated that an adjustment might not be necessary; that chiropractors also use ultrasound, massage, and electrical stimulation (TENS) to help ease back pain. One to six visits are generally enough for relief.
I would have liked to have seen a contribution from an acupuncturist in this article, as I believe that this treatment offers tremendous benefits in certain situations. Both conventional and complementary treatments have their place for most conditions.
For good medical summaries of lower back pain, visit the National Institute of Health website on back pain or the Spine Health website. Another site we recommend is Spine Universe which has excellent information on every type of back pain with recommended treatments.
Prevention is the key to living a pain-free life, so always stretch, stretch, stretch and try to practice yoga or pilates to strengthen your core.
Contributed by Debora Harvey, Patient Navigator LLC