Every now and again, I may feel a slight twinge or sharp pain in my lower back when going about my daily routine, but, fortunately for me, I have never experienced true, chronic back pain. As one who champions natural measures to treat our bodies, I have researched various alternative remedies to treat back pain.
According to the experts at http://altmedicine.about.com, statistically speaking, back pain is the second most common neurological disorder in the United States, with the headache coming in at number one. (As a mom to three teenage boys, I can attest to that statistic!) Old modalities for treating back pain include rest, long-term medicinal measures, and maybe even surgery. Fortunately, many natural alternatives are now at the forefront of modern medicine that can be used to treat back pain. Further, unlike the short-term benefits of medicine (not to mention the potential side effects!), these natural measures are gentler and tend to get to the root of the underlying problem as opposed to simply treating the symptoms.
Acupuncture is becoming a more recognizable approach to treating back pain. Studies have shown that those who receive acupuncture treatments report a significant reduction in pain within one year and have noticed a reduction in the medicines they take. Acupuncture serves to release the natural pain-relieving opiods, sending signals that calm the sympathetic nervous system, releasing neurochemicals and hormones.
A lack of Vitamin D can contribute to chronic muscle pain. A study conducted by the University of Minnesota revealed that 93% of patients with chronic musculoskeletal pain were deficient in Vitamin D. You can get this supplement through fish with small bones, fortified milk, cereal, and reasonable exposure to sunlight.
Turn on the radio. Exposure to music has been found to reduce the side effects of chronic pain, including anxiety, depression, and disability. Music has proven to have an immediate effect on pain reduction. (I suppose I now have no argument to tell my sons to “turn that thing down!” Thank goodness for iPods with ear buds!)
Another alternative is the use of capsaicin cream. While you might not have heard of this before, it is the active ingredient in chili peppers. When applied to the skin, it has been shown to deplete the neurochemical substance P that transmits pain, causing an analgesic effect.
My personal favorite alternative is massage therapy. I know I think of this measure when I feel tired, achy, and in some sort of overall pain. Massage has been proven to be effective in treating sub acute and chronic pain while also reducing anxiety and depression associated with long-term pain.
We all breathe. We may simply need to understand how to do this in a manner consistent with pain reduction. Techniques that engage the mind-body connection can reduce pain. One example of this is the slow and steady breathing technique that flows with meditation. (Not the rapid-fire, short-breath bursts that I display while running around every day tending to a host of duties going Mach 1 with my hair on fire!)
Do you sit at a desk frequently? Then you need to employ the Alexander technique. Our grandmas were geniuses at this! “Sit up! Don’t slouch!” Grandma sure did know how to reduce muscle tension and pain! Be vigilant about your posture at all times. (I guess I should get my feet off my desk now.)
While I have touched on just a few natural modalities to alleviate chronic back pain, there are a host of others. I think I will be “back” with those in the very near future!