Back pain is one of the most common complaints doctors hear from their patients. Up to two-thirds of Americans will experience back pain in their lives, and with so many treatment options, it can be hard to know what will work best for your individual needs. While surgery can provide a quick fix, a 2006 study in The Journal of the American Medical Association suggests that people who choose nonsurgical treatments can get the same long term benefits in pain reduction and function as those who choose to have surgery. If your back pain is getting you down, these non-surgical treatments could bring some much needed relief.
Manual manipulation of the spine – adjustment of vertebrate – can help decrease pain by moving misaligned joints back in to place. Restoring mobility to your joints can increase flexibility, improve blood flow and reduce muscle tension. Chiropractors often prescribe regular manipulations to keep spines aligned and provide preventative care. It should be noted people suffering from osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis or spinal cord compression should not undergo spinal manipulation.
It’s believed the benefits of acupuncture come from stimulating the nervous system. Some researchers believe acupuncture can speed the relay of electromagnetic signals and begin the flow of pain-relieving chemicals, like endorphins and serotonin. Other theories suggest acupuncture triggers the release of natural opioids, the chemicals in the brain that may lessen pain. In a study of more than one thousand patients in Germany, 47 percent who received 10 acupuncture treatments experienced less pain 6 months later. Read about the study here.
Massage therapy improves circulation which aids in the recovery of sore muscles. It also relaxes muscles giving you better flexibility and an improved range of motion. Your therapist can also work trigger points along your body to break down knots in muscles. Massage can also help increase endorphin levels, and pump more pain relieving chemical throughout your body. There are several different types of massage therapy, and a licensed massage therapist can help you choose the correct technique to help alleviate your pain.
Many times when back pain hits, our first instinct is to limit motion and take it easy. But regular exercise can not only help prevent back pain, it’s usually a necessity for proper rehabilitation. When utilized in a gradual, progressive manner, back exercises distribute nutrients and keep the muscles, ligaments joints and discs healthy. A regular exercise routine can also help you avoid stiffness and reduce the severity of possible future back pain.
Did you know that what you eat can affect your back pain? Diets high in fat, sugar and sodium are likely to cause inflammation, which can lead to painful joints and muscles, and a loss of mobility. Your best bet for avoiding inflammation is a diet full of healthy, whole foods. A balanced diet, rich in vitamins and nutrients, will keep the bones, muscles and other parts of the spine strong enough to support the body.
These are only a few of the many options available for treating lower back pain. Choosing a minimally invasive treatment such as these can greatly improve your health and quality of life, without the risk of surgery. These treatments are usually prescribed as part of a comprehensive plan to fix muscle imbalances or postural dysfunctions that may be the source of your chronic pain. You and your doctor should work together to find a balanced treatment strategy.
Before beginning any significant change to your health plan, be sure to speak with a licensed physician to find a treatment plan right for you. For more information about pain treatment and pain doctors in the Seattle, Bellevue, Tacoma, Olympia and Edmonds area, contact the Washington Center for Pain Management.