Back pain is one of the most common sources of chronic pain, coming in second only to headaches. But the reason back pain becomes chronic is that very few people know how to relieve chronic back pain or what causes it. There are a variety of factors that contribute to ongoing back pain including weight, lifestyle or injury. Even the level of chronic pain varies from mildly uncomfortable to debilitating back pain.
So you have chronic back pain you’re not sure how it came to be? In fact there are tons of reasons that include injury, herniated disc, spinal stenosis, compression fractures or even trauma such as an accident. The back pain may not begin immediately after the injury or trauma, but it becomes chronic if it persists for longer than three months.
The nature of chronic back pain is what causes many back pain sufferers to seek out alternative treatments. Generally there are a few key alternative treatments that have received a positive response.
Exercise is just one of the several types of physical treatments for chronic pain, and it can be one of the most effective despite the fact that it can also be the cause of back pain. Exercise is usually the first alternative treatment for chronic back pain that most people turn to because it is easy and, for the most part, can be done without the help of a medical professional.
Exercise is useful to relieve chronic back pain because it helps improve muscle strength and flexibility, which relieve the tension on the muscles in the back. Many chiropractors and physical therapists will recommend specific exercises and stretches to improve flexibility and relieve tension in the back. It is important to remember that performing exercises correctly can go a long way in keeping back pain at bay.
Alternative Physical Treatments
There physical treatments for chronic back pain that can be used in conjunction with exercise for better results. Physical therapy is usually recommended after a trauma or injury to get the back muscles in working order. Massage therapy is often used along with physical therapy in order to relax the muscles after strenuous activity.
Other alternative treatments for back pain include hydrotherapy and electrotherapy, although neither is as commonly used as the other methods. Electrotherapy uses electric pulses or currents on the affected area to relax and heal the muscles, but it can be applied in a variety of ways. Hydrotherapy often falls under the scope of physical therapy as it is often used to work the muscles without the tension or resistance of performing exercises on land.
Many of these therapies, aside from massage, require a doctor’s recommendation or referral.
When physical treatments for back pain aren’t enough, there is always pain medication. Frequently pain medication is used along with other forms of alternative treatments to lessen the inevitable pain of working sore muscles. There are many over the counter pain relievers that have prescription counterparts of the level of pain increases.
For chronic back pain the most common pain reliever is non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, also called NSAIDs, which include popular medicines such as ibuprofen, naproxen and aspirin. However you may be prescribed acetaminophen or heavier narcotics like muscle relaxers if your chronic back pain in affecting your ability to sleep.
Often when the less invasive alternative treatments for chronic back pain, like those mentioned above, don’t work surgery may be required. If chronic back pain makes it difficult to perform basic daily activities such as showering or cooking or driving, that may be a sign of severe back pain that needs a more permanent treatment.
If your chronic back pain is due to a herniated disc, spinal nerve compression, kyphosis, scoliosis or fractures in your vertebrae, surgery may be required. There are several types of surgery which depend on exactly the source of your chronic back pain.
When seeking alternative treatments for chronic back pain it is recommended that you begin with less invasive treatments like exercise or massage before resorting to painkillers or surgery. Speak with your physician to find out which treatment works best for you.
Written By: Updated: June 23,2011