When your back aches, even the simplest daily tasks can become difficult. That nagging throb, stiffness, or sharp pain when you move into certain positions can make you want just to give up for the day and lie down.
Although surgery might provide relief to some, that isn’t the only answer, nor is it the safest. Before deciding on a major surgical procedure, you may want to consider less invasive treatments for back pain.
Treatments For Back Pain
When you have back pain, the muscles are often tense so stretching can provide long-term relief by slowly increasing flexibility and suppleness. The NIH recommends intense stretching, like yoga for both acute and chronic back pain.
Multiple studies have shown the positive benefits – it reduces pain and improves back function and movement. Aside from the physical aspect, researchers think the mindfulness involved in yoga may also help people perceive less pain in general.
If your back pain is temporary or due to a misalignment of the spine, chiropractic care might be an effective back pain treatment. Chiropractors realign the bones in your spine, which can help take pressure off nerves and eventually treat the pain.
Studies consistently show adjusting the spine might also be an effective way to treat chronic lower back pain according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.
Staying physically active and developing a strong core is essential for treating back pain. Sometimes bad posture is the cause of or aggravates back pain, so strengthening your abs and back can help improve your posture.
The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke writes that low-impact aerobic activities like swimming, speed walking, or using a stationary bike are the best.
When people feel tense, they often turn to massage, so it makes sense massage can also work out tense back muscles and ease chronic pain, especially in the lower back. One study divided 400 people with back pain lasting longer than three months into three groups.
One received weekly whole-body massage, the second also got weekly massages, but targeting specific muscles, and the last group received usual care. Ten weeks later, the massage groups felt less pain and improved functioning.
This treatment is less conclusive, but still may be “worth a try” according to Harvard Health contributor Daniel Pendick. A review of 29 studies found that acupuncture relieved participants’ perception of pain by about 50 percent.
Brent A. Bauer, M.D. warns that acupuncture for back pain hasn’t been well tested, so you should take it with a grain of salt, but considering how acupuncture can reduce pain in general, it might prove to be a good treatment.
Sometimes back pain is aggravated by inflammation. Although little scientific evidence exists, many find applying heat, and then cold can provide instant, but natural temporary relief for back pain says the NHS.
You can switch between laying a hot water bottle on your problem area and then an ice pack and repeat, making sure never to place them directly on your bare skin. You can also try to reduce inflammation by eating more omega 3s or read about different supplements like a Vital 3 review.
Perhaps surprisingly, hypnosis is an effective way to reduce pain in most people. Not everyone can be hypnotized so that this treatment won’t work for everyone, but the American Psychological Association writes that an analysis of 18 studies on hypnotism’s effect on pain showed 75 percent of the people in the trials found “substantial pain relief.”
Although not exactly natural, pain killers provide much-needed relief for when you just can’t stand the pain. Over the counter medicine like ibuprofen or Advil can be effective when taken occasionally, but they aren’t meant to be taken every day and might damage your stomach over time.
Your doctor may recommend prescription painkillers like codeine or paracetamol says the NHS. However, all painkillers have some drawbacks so make sure you’re fully informed of the side effects.
Back pain may seem debilitating, but there are many ways to manage it without using surgery or over-relying on painkillers. Some of these natural treatments do take the time to build strength in your core, crack your back into place, develop flexibility, or relieve the tension in your back, so it’s important to go into treatment with realistic expectations.
These solutions should help, but they won’t be instantaneous. It goes without saying that before starting any treatments you should always consult with your doctor.