Aching back? Ease pain with alternative medicine

Oh, my aching back! Chances are that at some point in the past year, you’ve uttered those words. Back pain is a common symptom and a major health burden in the United States. It’s the leading cause of work-related disability and missed days of work, the fifth-most-common reason for physician visits, and a leading factor in health care costs. Luckily back pain can often be treated with non-invasive therapies.

According to the 2007 National Health Interview Survey, back pain is the most common condition for which adults use alternative medicine. Patients with back pain turn to alternative medicine to decrease pain and improve quality-of-life. Alternative therapies used for back pain include chiropractic and osteopathic manipulation, massage, yoga, relaxation techniques, meditation, acupuncture, and herbal supplements.

There are many treatments for the management of back pain, and physicians differ widely in what they recommend. For acute low back pain, the guidelines point to spinal manipulation and conclude it has small-to-moderate, short-term benefit. For chronic low back pain, the guidelines list a number of therapies that have fair-to-good supporting evidence for moderate effectiveness, including acupuncture, massage therapy, progressive relaxation, and Viniyoga-style yoga.

Pain conditions, including low back pain, are some of hardest to treat. There is still a lot to learn about using alternative therapies for back pain. Talk to your doctor or chiropractor about alternative therapies for treating back pain to find out which treatments will work best with your specific pain.



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