If you’ve ever slouched in your desk chair at work, lifted heavy objects without using your knees for support or clinched your shoulders when life got stressful, these movements may have come back to haunt you in the form of back pain.
Back pain is a common complaint that can occur at any age. In fact, it’s among the top 10 reasons that people visit the doctor, according to a recent study published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings.
“Fortunately, for the majority of people, the pain will resolve itself with appropriate treatment,” says Robert Bonakdar, MD, director of pain management at Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine. “For the remaining cases of back pain, these typically fall into a category known as ‘nonspecific chronic low-back pain.’”
Dr. Bonakdar says complementary and integrative therapies have a great potential to help alleviate chronic low back pain. “When properly individualized and introduced along with core lifestyle approaches, they can improve your sense of well-being, increase your energy level and give you greater hope for recovery.”
Here are a few therapies and practices that may help some people alleviate or put an end to their back pain.
Diet and exercise
Since excess weight can contribute to back pain, consider introducing low-impact exercise and a proper diet into your daily routine. This can help reduce the fear of movement and improve your fitness level and body weight.
Gentle stretching into various yoga poses can increase strength and flexibility while breathing exercises and meditation can help ease stress. By improving muscle tone and reducing a fear of movement, yoga can help you reach a greater sense of relaxation.
Similar to yoga, acupuncture can help reduce muscle tension. By inserting very thin needles into strategic points of the body, acupuncture could have an anti-inflammatory and relaxation effect by releasing endorphins — the body’s natural pain reliever.
For a soothing way to relieve back pain and relax muscles, consider getting a massage. The healing touch could help decrease pain and relieve anxiety associated with your back pain.
When connected to sensors or electrodes, a machine can monitor your brain waves and vital signs. By learning how to adjust thought patterns and physiological responses, biofeedback can help you enhance physical and emotional awareness while decreasing pain and anxiety.
When it comes to chronic back pain, Dr. Bonakdar believes it’s important to consider all of your options. Doing so may reduce your chances of long-term disability and help you return to full function.
To help find the road to recovery, he suggests talking to your doctor about what methods you’ve attempted to relieve your back pain, as well as any psychosocial, environmental or other factors that may be preventing you from recovering fully.
By discussing your roadblocks and participating in the decision-making process regarding your care, he says you’ll feel more empowered to have greater control over your back pain.