Afflicting millions of Americans, chronic back pain is one of the most common physical disabilities, and its effects on one’s health, happiness, and quality of life can be highly detrimental. It can result from any number of things—from workplace factors, to poor posture, to genetics—and it can take a variety of forms. Hence there is no one-size-fits-all solution to back pain. For most people, dealing with the problem involves years of trial and error and, in many cases, a series of fruitless attempts at medical intervention.
There are some medical procedures that can be highly effective in addressing certain types of back pain. But for a variety of reasons, some types of back pain simply cannot be dealt with by traditional medical means. Meanwhile, some people cannot afford to go through the complicated and expensive process of surgery, and others are uncomfortable with the idea. If for whatever reason you cannot or will not seek medical treatment for your back pain, here are a few natural remedies that are worth trying.
Exercise the back
One of the best long-term ways to address back pain is to strengthen the muscles around the spine while building flexibility. For these purposes, there is no better form of exercise than yoga. With a few yoga sessions a week, performed over a few months, you should begin to notice your chronic pain becoming less severe. Plus, during the act of exercising, the stretching can feel great, and the endorphins released by the activity can act as temporary painkillers.
Also, it is a good idea to stay physically fit in general. This can be difficult for anyone whose back pain prevents them from engaging in many types of exercise. But if you can get out for walks or jogs in addition to your muscle-strengthening exercise, you will keep yourself physically fit. Considering that obesity and overweight are major causes of back pain, you can certainly benefit your back by getting plenty of exercise.
Get regular massages
Massages come in a variety of forms, and some massage therapists have more expertise than others. But if you can find a good massage therapist to help you work out the kinks in your back on a regular basis, the therapeutic benefits can be very significant. In many cases, regular sessions with a good massage therapist can be even better than more traditional forms of medical care.
One reason why chronic back pain is so pervasive in our society is the fact that so many people work at jobs that keep them hunched over a desk for most of the day. This can be terrible for the back. If your work situation allows it, arrange your space so that you can stand at your desk for some or all of the day. It can take some getting used to—after years of sitting, the urge to take a seat can be powerful—but after a few weeks, you will become quite comfortable with it.
If there is no way for you to get out of sitting at work, focus more on your posture. Instead of hunching over, sit straight up, with your feet flat on the ground and your shoulders square. This, too, takes some getting used to, but it can greatly benefit you.
Acupuncture for chronic back pain does not work for everyone, but studies have shown that it can be highly effective when used regularly, especially over a period of six months or more. Used in combination with other things, it can help provide great relief.
Move and lift correctly
Refresh your memory on the proper technique for lifting heavy objects (i.e., with your legs and arms, not with your back), and try to be more conscious of how you move. Keep in mind that people with back pain often adjust their habitual ways of moving accordingly, and these adjustments sometimes lead to a cycle of worsening pain. So instead of overcompensating by moving unnaturally, try to simply move in a way that does not stress your back.
By Lisa Pecos