For this post, I want to concentrate on other non-surgical treatments for back pain. Even though most of these treatments involve a licensed professional, they are not the first thing most people think of when experiencing back pain. For that reason, I have put these in the non-traditional category.
I know when your back is hurting bad enough that it’s making even simple everyday routines very difficult or even impossible, you’re willing to do just about anything to get some relief. Some treatments I will be talking about may not bring you permanent relief, most of them have been proven to bring at least temporary relief. Trust me on this, there are times when even temporary is greatly appreciated.
Theoretically speaking, inversion therapy involves strapping your feet and ankles in a harness then flipping upside down and hanging there. In effect, it reverses gravity. It’s purpose is to take pressure off of the spine and the discs that are in between the vertebrae. By itself, inversion therapy only bring temporary relief to back pain. It can be used in conjunction with specific exercises, therapies and/or stretches to bring more long term relief.
Many people claim temporary relief from inversion therapy but it does have it’s limitations and draw backs. It is not for everybody and can do more harm than good. Being upside down for more than a couple of minutes causes an increase in blood pressure and slowing of the heartbeat. It also dramatically increases the pressure inside your eyeballs. Because of this, it is recommended that anyone with high blood pressure, a heart condition or glaucoma not try inversion therapy. I recommend asking your doctor before trying it.
Professional Massage Therapy
Massage therapy is quickly gaining recognition by medical providers as a viable option for treatment of some lower back pain conditions. No it is not a cure all. Recent studies have recognized that massage therapy can bring at least some relief to many with lower back pain issues. When done properly, the patient exhibited an increase in range of motion. There was also and increase in serotonin and dopamine levels in the blood. An added benefit that will lower depression and anxiety along with improving sleep.
Massage therapy can only physically help if there is a soft tissue injury such as a muscle spasm. The most effective therapy is known as Neuromuscular Massage Therapy. It involves applying pressure, using the fingers, knuckles or elbows on specific trigger points in the muscles that are in spasm. This pressure, in varying degrees, will allow the muscle to relax allowing an increase in blood flow and oxygen to the muscle. This in turn promotes healing.
Again, massage therapy is not a cure all. By itself it will only bring temporary relief. It is usually used in conjunction with other treatments to bring long term relief to the patient. As usual, consult your doctor before getting massage therapy. At the very least, he or she could recommend good licensed professionals.
Chiropractic Manual Manipulation and Mobilization
Chiropractors use a “hands-on” approach to restore a body’s musculoskeletal structure back to proper alignment. This manipulation is used to allow normal mobility to joints after a soft tissue injury causing pain in muscles, tendons and/or ligaments. Specifically, it is a pain relief alternative. This manipulation is a series of high velocity arm thrust that is directed toward abnormal vertebrae in an effort to restore alignment, mobility, reduce nerve irritation and reduce pain. This in turn will restore range of motion.
Chiropractic Mobilization, on the other hand is low velocity stretching and moving of joints and muscles to restore range of motion and relieve tension in specific areas. Treatment usually involves several visits in order to be successful. Periodic “adjustments” can be performed for long term relief.
What’s that you say? Meditation relieves lower back pain! Give me a break!
That’s how I felt. I knew that there was no way on God’s green earth that something as simple and stupid as meditation was going to do anything to help my lower back pain. Well, I guess I was wrong. Why not, I’ve been wrong before.
I started researching meditation and pain relief quite some time ago. I found quite a bit of information about meditation. The best I could find said it’s possible but I failed to find any solid proof. At that time, the best I could find was some would say yes, others no. There were no studies that could prove one way or the other. Just a lot of theory.
Then in 2016, CNN did a report on it. Check it out under the title, “Can meditation banish back pain?”. From the studies in the report, meditation rated right up there with cognitive behavioral therapy (which is the subject of a later post) in relieving lower back pain. To my surprise it actually performed better than standard pain medications like ibuprofen and other over the counter pain medications. Is it recognized as a medical form of pain relief? The jury is still out on that one, but, it is being tried in some areas where CBT is not available.
In my opinion, it’s worth looking into. The type of meditation is known as “Guided Meditation” and requires a partner. Whoever is experiencing the pain is to sit in a relaxed position in a comfortable chair with their eyes closed. The partner is to calmly and softly read from a prepared script. The “patient” must concentrate on and do exactly what the reader is saying. Most of the sessions I read about take from 20 minutes to 2 hours.
The key to success is positive energy. Both people must take the experience very seriously. Like most things in life, it doesn’t work overnight. It takes practice to get it right. With enough practice, and belief, you will eventually be able to do it by yourself without a guide.
Acupuncture involves inserting very thin needles at various depths into specific locations on the body by a trained practitioner. Does it work? According to the Mayo Clinic, in most studies it has shown to relieve lower back pain, temporarily at least. The studies also showed that the same relief was achieved by inserting the needles in other nonspecific locations as well.
So does this mean that acupuncture works? Maybe, the only thing that was said for sure was that more studies were needed. The American Pain Society and the American College of Physicians say that if chronic lower back pain can’t be relieve by other conventional methods, acupuncture should be considered as an alternative.
I myself am going to dig deeper into this and see what I can find out. I’ll let you know my findings in a later post.
There are other therapies and treatments that are out there like CBT but it is not readily available everywhere, so I’m going to do a more detailed discussion on them at a later date. I also think I’ll dig a little deeper into Meditation and Acupuncture too. This research has sparked my interest and since I still live with back pain, I’ll do what I can to find out more and bring it to you. If there is something you have heard about or something you would like me to cover, leave it in the comments below and I’ll do my best to find out more. Also any questions you may have can be left there as well or you can send me an e-mail. Thanks for reading, I hope something here will make you feel better.