If you have ever suffered from low back pain before you may know that it can range from a minor inconvenience to a full blown case of disability. Reasons for back pain vary greatly and it may be caused by an illness, injury, repetitive movement, an accident or weak muscles.
Whatever the reason, you are not alone. It is estimated that well over eighty percent of people will experience some form of back pain at some point in their life. While it may seem that surgery is the only option, there are actually a number of much less invasive, alternative therapies that have been shown to help tremendously with pain.
Here are just twelve such alternative treatment options that you may find helpful. For many people, it is a combination of therapies that often work best. Be sure to speak to your healthcare practitioner before trying any of these methods.
A body in motion stays in motion. While experiencing lower back pain, that may be the last thing you want to think about. When everyday tasks like walking, sitting down and bending over may seem to exacerbate your pain, gentle motion can actually be useful. This is especially true if you back pain is caused by weak muscles.
The stronger your core muscles are, the less likely you are to injure your lower back. Depending on the nature of your pain you may find relief with gentle yoga poses, stretches, swimming or walking. Because exercise can actually cause more damage to your back, especially if you do an exercise wrong. Be sure to get guidance from a physical therapist, chiropractor, physician or other healthcare practitioner before embarking on an exercise routine.
Sleeping is as essential to health as eating. Not getting enough quality sleep can leave you groggy and interfere with both your cognitive and physical functioning. If you toss and turn all night long you can aggravate an already painful back. Here are just a few things that you can do to help ensure a good night’s rest.
- Go to bed and get up at the same time each day.
- Take a warm bath with lavender essential oil.
- Listen to soothing instrumental music.
- Drink a cup of chamomile tea.
- Drink a warm glass of milk with molasses.
- Put some lavender in an oil diffuser.
Be sure that your room is cool and dark and that you leave all of your electronic devices outside of the bedroom. Research has shown that the blue light emitted from electronic devices can greatly interfere with sleep.
3. Ice and Heat
Alternating ice and heat several times a day often brings much-needed relief, especially where inflammation is involved. Heat can be very comforting and will help stimulate blood flow to the area of pain. Be sure to leave heat and ice on for about fifteen minutes each.
4. Improving Your Posture
Don’t slouch! That’s right, something as simple as good posture can bring relief to the lower back. Good posture helps assure your back has minimal stress. Make sure that you maintain the best possible posture when engaged in any activities. Pay particular attention to your posture at work, especially if you sit or stand all day. Persons who sit at a desk and work on a computer all day may find that they experience chronic low back pain.
Be sure that your workstation is ergonomically correct. Get up and walk around at least once every hour if you work at a desk. If you stand all day, be sure that you wear comfortable shoes, sit down and put your feet up a few times a day and stretch often.
Capsaicin, which is found in red peppers, is a natural heat producer. It actually depletes the nerve ending with a neurochemical called substance P. This chemical transmits pain to the brain.
According to research, almost 40% of patients with arthritis cut their pain in half within a month of using a topical capsaicin cream. Patients with migraines also find relief when they put capsaicin cream inside their nostrils.
There are several over the counter creams which contain capsaicin. Try this Dr. Christopher’s Cayenne Heat Ointment. Or you could mash red pepper and add a small amount to your favorite cream or oil. Some people are quite sensitive to capsaicin, it is recommended to test the mixture on a small area first.
Bromelain is a natural enzyme found in pineapples. This enzyme is highly effective at promoting circulation and reducing swelling. It does this by breaking down fibrin, a protein responsible for blood-clotting and blocking the compounds that cause both swelling and pain. As a result, blood moves easily to the injured area and reduces pain to help hasten healing. You can find bromelain in tablet, capsule or powder form. Try this Source Naturals Bromelain Tablets.
Valerian is a flowering plant whose root has been used as a remedy for insomnia, anxiety and nervous restlessness since antiquity. Valerian is also effective for muscle cramps and tension. Valerian works directly on the nervous system as a natural pain reliever. The Indian Journal of Experimental Biology published a paper that looked at the pain relieving properties of valerian. What they found was that both the whole extract as well as the isolated oil from the plant had analgesic effects on rats.
8. White Willow Bark
Ancient Egyptians used white willow bark for inflammation and pain. Willow bark can be taken from a number of different types of willow trees, including white willow, black willow, pussy willow, crack willow, purple willow and European Willow.
During the time of Hippocrates, willow bark was chewed on to relieve pain and fever. Willow bark is a great deal like aspirin and is often used for pain such as headaches, muscle pain, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, menstrual cramps and ankylosing spondylitis (a disease of the spine).
Willow bark can be brewed as a tea or applied externally. Steep two teaspoons of herb (available to buy from this page) in two cups of boiling water for ten minutes. If you have any allergic reaction to aspirin, it is best to avoid this herb.
9. Peppermint Essential Oil
Peppermint is an incredibly versatile herb that is low maintenance and highly aromatic. Peppermint is one of the most widely used natural pain relievers. It is known as a refrigerant, meaning it can bring about a very deep and cool sensation to the entire body. Because of this, some people think about peppermint essential oil as an ice pack in a bottle.
Peppermint oil applied to an inflamed and painful area will absorb heat and diminish inflammation while increasing blood flow to the area. You can purchase peppermint essential oil from here.
Acupuncture is a group of ancient procedures that involve the simulation of one of about two-thousand points on the body using a number of different techniques. Most frequently, acupuncture refers to the process of pricking the skin with a thin and solid metallic needle. Acupuncture is a key component in traditional Chinese medicine.
During an acupuncture session, the practitioner will place the needles through the skin into various points. It is thought that the process causes opioid peptides to be released that have analgesic effects. In addition, the alternation in the secretion of neurotransmitters and neurohormones along with changes in the regulation of blood flow may help with inflammation and pain.
When it comes to acupuncture, like any other therapy, it is important to find a licensed practitioner that has experience with back pain.
Arnica is a plant that grows in mountainous areas of northern United States, Canada, and the European Alps. It is also known as the ‘mountain daisy’ because of its daisy-like yellow flower. It is these flowers that are used to make topical pain relief remedies.
Arnica is well known for its ability to reduce pain and swelling associated with joint pain, arthritis, and muscles soreness. You can find it as a tincture, salve, ointment, gel, oil or cream. You can also make an arnica compress that will help reduce musculoskeletal pain. To do this, mix one tablespoon of arnica tincture with a pint of spring water. Dip a gauze pad or sanitary napkin in this mixture and place it on the painful area. You can also purchase arnica tablets. Take four pills at one time, as needed for pain.
Word of caution: Don’t use arnica on broken skin or an open wound
12. Natural Endorphins
Endorphins are hormones your body naturally produces. They play an important role in blocking pain signals sent to the brain. Endorphins also help alleviate stress, which also may be a contributing factor to your pain. A few ways to release these natural endorphins are: massage therapy, meditation, yoga and dark chocolate which contains a chemical to prompt the release of endorphins.
Of course, be sure that you visit your doctor before beginning any kind of natural health therapy. There may be reasons why one therapy will be more effective than another.