Alternative therapies for back pain

man with back pain

Back pain is one of the biggest causes of work absence here in the UK, and our increasingly sedentary lifestyles are reportedly causing more and more problems. Unfortunately, back pain can also be difficult to treat. If you are suffering though, it might be worth trying one of these alternative therapies.

This ancient Chinese therapy has been used to treat back pain for centuries, and some find it a highly effective treatment. In fact it has even been accepted within NICE guidelines as an effective treatment for chronic lower back pain. The treatment involves inserting tiny needles into the body at strategic points. This stimulates the body's central nervous system, and it is thought that it causes the body to release chemicals such as endorphins and opioid peptides that produce an analgesic and painkilling effect. Treatment can last anywhere from a few minutes to half an hour, and an increasing number of NHS professionals are recommending acupuncture as a complementary therapy.

For some types of back pain, particularly where the pain is caused by tight muscles, simple massage therapy can help to reduce both the pain and the need for medication. Massage helps to increase the blood flow and circulation, nourishing the muscles and tissues and aiding in recovery after exercise or injury. It also decreases tension and inflammation in the muscles, which can cause pain, and a good massage triggers the release of those pain-killing endorphins, thereby promoting relaxation and easing anxiety, an important factor in speeding up recovery following an injury. Massage can also be targeted to specific points. However, it is advisable to check with your doctor before trying massage therapy.

Yoga and Pilates
Well known for their ability to promote relaxation both mentally and physically, yoga and Pilates can help to relieve back pain by strengthening the core muscles and improving flexibility. In many cases, back pain is caused by postural alignment problems, but by strengthening the core muscles can help to correct the problem and prevent the likelihood of pain in the future. Pilates, which is specifically focused on strengthening the core muscles has been particularly successful in treating back pain. In a study by researchers at Queen's University in Ontario, adults with chronic low-back pain who took a Pilates course reported significantly lower levels of functional disability and pain intensity than those receiving standard medical treatment. They also maintained the physical improvements a year later.

Chiropractic manipulation
Once again, poor posture and increasingly sedentary lifestyles are a common cause of back pain, and in these instances, spinal adjustments performed by a chiropractor can be a real help. This kind of manipulate is used to realign the spine, restore mobility to joints affected by injury, and relieve the pain caused by repetitive stress to the area, and it is often used in conjunction with conventional medical treatment. Chiropractic treatment may range from one or two adjustments to several months, and the aim is not only to improve the symptoms of back pain, but also to prevent further injury.

In years gone by, the recommended treatment for back pain was bed rest. In fact evidence suggests the opposite may be the best course of action. Regular exercise increases the strength and flexibility of the muscles, releases endorphins and releases pressure on the disks, providing pain relief quickly and reducing your reliance on medication to ease the symptoms. Simple changes such as taking regular breaks if you work in an office, standing up, stretching and walking around, can help to relieve the pain and prevent future problems. It is important, however, to check with your doctor as to how much and what type of exercise is recommended.

Before trying any kind of complementary therapy be sure to find someone who is qualified and registered with a professional body.

Do you suffer with back pain? What alternative therapies have worked for you? Leave your comments below...
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