Alternative Treatments to Relieve Back Pain without Surgery or Pain Medication!

Core-strengthening exercises, massage therapy and yoga are well documented ways to relieve back pain. About 24 million people a year visit a doctor because of lower back problems (1) and it remains the leading cause of job disability in the world (3). According to a study in 2013, the Journal of the American Medical Association found that the prescription of powerful narcotic pain meds increased by 51 percent since 1991.
Epidemiologic studies show that there are several risk factors associated with lower back problems such as sedentary and driving occupations, sitting for hours, lifting, carrying, pushing, sports, stressful events, bending, twisting and pulling and smoking (2).
Other causes include overstretched or injured muscles, tendons or ligaments resulting from poor posture, throwing a ball or weeding a garden. Aging can cause degenerative changes that lead to a decrease of the disk between the vertebrae. Another reason can be a herniated disk that causes sciatica pain down the leg. Furthermore, spinal stenosis is also an age related condition whereby the spinal canal narrows due to bone spurs and thickened ligaments. Finally, spinal instability, which results from weak support of the spinal column may allow a vertebra to slide forward causing a condition called spondyolethesis (1).
The prescription of opioids is a common practice but has serious side effects including addiction, overdose, constipation, drowsiness, headaches and nausea.  The American Medical Association found that in 7,300 patients, opioids did not provide significant relief for people with chronic back pain (1).
So what works?
According to new guidelines of the American College of Physicians (published in the February 2017 Annals of Internal Medicine) alternative treatments such as acupuncture, massage, yoga and physical therapy should be considered as a first approach of treatment.
Massage Therapy 
In a study published in Pain Medicine, more than 50% out of 104 people who received massage therapy as a treatment reported improvement in their back pain. After three months of not receiving a massage 75% still felt improvement. Some research suggests that massage therapy directly reduces the inflammation in muscles (3).Furthermore, massage therapy relaxes tense muscles and increases blood flow to injured areas.
NIH (2011) published an article that suggests that yoga or stretching eases low back pain (4). Yoga typically includes a combination of physical postures, breathing techniques and meditation or relaxation which all seem to be beneficial for people with lower back problems. In one of their studies people in a yoga or stretching group felt better after 6 weeks, compared to a self-care group whose participants reported an improvement after 3-6 months. The study suggested that the physical aspect of yoga and stretching appears to be more important than the mental aspect of yoga (4).
Lying down may temporarily ease back pain but after a day or two can actually prevent healing. In contrast, active forms of back exercises are necessary to rehabilitate the spine and release back pain (5). Active back exercises should be performed gradually, progressively and in a controlled manner to relieve back pain and strengthen the spine. Regular back exercises will reduce the recurrences of lower back pain. Exercises distribute nutrients into the disc space and keep discs, muscles, ligaments and joints healthy5. A poll done on WebMD indicated that exercise showed the best treatment results for lower back pain (6).
Where to go?
Unique Fitness & Massage Therapy offers massage treatments and back exercises for people with chronic back pain, post-rehab and prevention. The “Stretch & Flex”, “Healthy Back” and “Yoga” classes are beneficial.  Personalized training and massage therapy is most effective and individualized based on your condition.

1. Carr, Teresa. Consumer Reports. “Real Relief from Back Pain. June 2017.
2. Frymoyer,JW, Pope, MH, Costanze e.t. “Epidemiologic studies of low-back pain. http:// NIOSHTIC-2Publications Search—00185851—Epidemiologic Studies of low-back pain.
3. MacMillian, Amanda. “Massage Can help treat lower back pain”  TIME Health. 4/6/2017.
5. http;//

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *