Alternative Therapy for Back Pain

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Alternative Therapy for Back Pain

There are a wide variety of alternative treatments for back pain. Most of the studies of these therapies have proved inconclusive. Some people will claim certain treatments will cure anything, especially if they have a financial interest in it.

Complementary Treatment & Alternative Therapy for Back Pain
Complementary Treatment & Alternative Therapy for Back Pain

However, many people have obtained benefits from the treatments described below. Traction involves using pulleys and weights to stretch the back. The rationale behind traction is to pull the vertebrae apart to allow a bulging disc to slip back into place. Some people experience pain relief while in traction, but that relief is usually temporary.

Once traction is released back pain is likely to return. Corsets and braces limit the motion of the lumbar spine, provide abdominal support, and correct posture. They are of most use after certain surgeries.

Various injections can be used to relieve chronic back pain if medication and other non-surgical treatments fail. Some of the most commonly used injections include nerve root blocks, facet joint injections, and trigger point injections.

Prolotherapy is a treatment in which a sugar solution or other irritating substance is injected into the periosteum, the fibrous tissue covering the bones, in order to strengthen the attachment of tendons and ligaments.

Spinal manipulation is done by chiropractors and osteopathic doctors.

With manipulation, a practitioner will use their hands to mobilize, adjust, massage, or stimulate the spine or surrounding tissues. The purpose of spinal manipulation is to restore joint mobility by applying a controlled force into joints that have become restricted in their movement. Spinal manipulation is not an appropriate treatment for osteoporosis, spinal cord compression, or arthritis.

Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) uses mild electric impulses to stimulate the nervous system in the pained area. It is thought that TENS may elevate the levels of endorphins, the body’s natural pain-numbing chemicals, in the spinal fluid.

Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese practice that is based on the theory that a life force called Qi flows through the body. If the flow is impeded, the body can become ill. Acupuncture involves the insertion of thin needles at precise locations to unblock the flow of Qi, relieving pain and restoring health.

Some studies have indicated that inserting and then stimulating needles (by twisting or passing a low-voltage electrical current through them) may foster the production of endorphins.

Acupressure is similar to acupuncture in that it seeks to unblock the flow of Qi.

The difference between acupuncture and acupressure is that no needles are used in acupressure.

Acupressure is more like massage therapy, where a therapist will use their hands, elbows, feet and knees to apply pressure to certain precise portions of the patient’s body.

Another type of massage, Rolfing, uses strong pressure on deep tissues in the back to relieve tightness of the fascia, a sheath of tissue that covers the muscles. It seeks to improve posture and structure by manipulating the body’s myofascial system

Surgery for Back Pain- Alternative Therapy for Back Pain

While the majority of treatment for lower back pain is non-surgical, there are some conditions for which surgery is appropriate. As well, in some rare cases, surgery can be used to treat chronic back pain for which other treatments have failed. Below we list some common conditions that may be treated surgically, and describe the treatments used.

A herniated disc occurs when the hard outer coating of the discs, the circular pieces of connective tissue that cushion the vertebrae, are damaged. These discs may leak, irritating nearby nerves. A herniated disc is also known as a ruptured disc. A herniated disk can cause severe sciatica, nerve pain that radiates down the leg.

Herniated discs may be treated surgically by discectomy, either laminectomy, microdiscectomy or laser discectomy.

In a laminectomy, part of the lamina, a portion of the bone on the back of the vertebrae, is removed. The herniated disc is then removed through this cut.

In microdiscectomy a much smaller incision is made and the doctor uses a magnifying lens to locate the disc. The smaller incision may reduce pain and the disruption of tissues, and it reduces the size of the surgical scar. With a laser discectomy, a laser is used to vaporize the tissue in the disc, reducing its size and relieving pressure on the nerves.

Spinal stenosis is a condition where the spinal canal narrows, compressing the nerves inside. It is often caused by bone spurs which are a result of osteoarthritis. Compression of the nerves can lead to pain, numbness in the legs and the loss of bladder or bowel control.

A laminectomy may be used to open up the spinal column remove the lamina and any bone spurs. The procedure is major surgery that requires a short hospital stay and physical therapy afterwards.

Spondylolisthesis is a condition where a vertebra of the slips out of place. As the spine tries to stabilize itself, the joints between the slipped vertebra and adjacent vertebrae can become enlarged. This can pinch nerves, causing low back pain and severe sciatica leg pain. A spinal fusion may be used with a laminectomy.

In spinal fusion, two or more vertebrae are joined together using bone grafts, screws, and rods to prevent slippage of the slipped vertebrae. The bone used for the bone graft usually comes from the hip or pelvis of the patient, although a donor bone may be used. The fused area of the spine becomes immobilized.

Vertebral fractures can be caused by trauma or by osteoporosis. A vertebroplasty injects a cement-like mixture called polymethyacrylate into the fractured vertebra to stabilize the spine. Kyphoplasty inserts a balloon device to help restore the height and shape of the spine before injecting polymethyacrylate to repair the fractured vertebra.

Degenerative disc disease is an aging process where the discs between the vertebrae break down over time.

Intradiscal electrothermal therapy (IDT) involves inserting a heating wire into the disc to strengthen the collagen fibers that hold the disc together.

Spinal fusion may be used to remove the injured disc and immobilize the spine around it.

Finally, disc replacement is possible. Here the disc is simply removed and replaced with a synthetic disc.

Back Pain and Arthritis of the Spine- Alternative Therapy for Back Pain

Arthritis is inflammation of the joints. There are more than 100 rheumatic diseases and conditions that are types of arthritis. They affect joints, the tissues which surround the joints and other connective tissue. Arthritis is characterized by pain and stiffness in and around one or more joints. There are three main types of arthritis that affect the spine. They are osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and ankolyzing spondylitis.

Osteoarthritis is a disease in which the cartilage that cushions the ends of the bones at the joints wears away.

This causes the bones of the joint to rub together, causing pain, stiffness and bone spurs. The bone spurs can break off and float around in the joint, causing more damage and pain. The joint can become misshapen over time.

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis. Osteoarthritis usually first strikes after the age of 40, and becomes more likely with age. People with osteoarthritis usually have joint pain and limited movement.

Rheumatoid arthritis occurs when the body’s immune system attacks the tissue that lines the joints, the synovial membrane. White blood cells, the agents of the immune system, travel to the synovium and cause inflammation (synovitis).

During the inflammation process, the normally thin synovium becomes thick and makes the joint swollen and puffy to the touch, leading to joint pain and inflammation. The inflamed synovium leads to erosion of the cartilage and bone within the joint. The muscles, ligaments and tendons around the joint weaken, and provide less support to the joint.

Rheumatoid arthritis is usually accompanied by fatigue and fevers. It usually begins in middle age and is more common in women than men.

Ankylosing spondylitis is a chronic form of arthritis that affects the spine and the sacroiliac joint, where the spine meets the pelvis. It can also affect the hips and shoulders. In severe cases, bone spurs form on the vertebrae. These can fuse the vertebrae together, causing the spine to become rigid, resulting in a great loss of mobility. Ankolyzing spondylitis is most often first diagnosed in young men, usually under the age of 35.

Arthritis is typically treated with medication, either a pain reliever or an anti-inflammatory. Pain relievers include analgesic medications like aspirin and acetaminophen (Tylenol). Topical analgesics such as Zostrix, Icy Hot and Ben Gay can be effective in some cases where a pill-based medicine is not.

NSAIDs, or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, are used to reduce swelling. These include such nonprescription medications as ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil), ketoprofen (Actron, Orudis) and naproxen sodium (Aleve).

Stronger prescription-based anti-inflammatories are available, including COX-2 inhibitors like celecoxib, which may be easier on the stomach than traditional NSAIDs.

Exercises will also be used to increase range of motion. These include various stretching and strengthening exercises to reduce the damage of the arthritis.

Massage Therapy and Back Pain- Alternative Therapy for Back Pain

A registered massage therapist is a trained in the assessment and diagnosis of injuries of the soft tissue and joints of the body. They use a blend of modern science and ancient philosophies to treat many conditions. A massage therapist has many potential treatments at their disposal.

Massage therapy is becoming more widely accepted in the medical community as a credible treatment for many types of back pain.

Studies have shown that massage therapy can benefit back pain sufferers by increasing blood flow and circulation, decreasing tension in the muscles, reducing pain caused by tight muscles and even improving sleep. Massage therapy can provide relief for many common conditions that cause back pain, such as arthritis, fibromyalgia, sports injuries and various other soft tissue sprains and strains.

Massage is non-invasive and considered very low risk for most people.

In addition to physical benefits, massage is usually very realaxing. This can have profound psychologically benefits, particularly to someone suffering from chronic back pain. Depression is a symptom of chronic pain. Massage is thought to release endorphins, those natural chemical of the body that make you feel good and act as pain suppressors.

It is estimated that 75% of healthcare providers have sent patients of theirs to a massage therapist. If appropriate, you may want to ask your physician for a referral to a massage therapy professional in your area.

Most episodes of acute lower back pain are caused by muscle strain, such as from lifting a heavy object, or a traumatic injury like a sudden movement or a fall. The low back pain can be very severe and last anywhere from several hours to a couple of weeks. When back muscles are strained or torn, they can become inflamed.

With inflammation, the muscles in the back can spasm and cause both severe lower back pain and difficulty moving. Massage can help work out the spasm/irritation and improve range of motion. The large upper back muscles are also prone to irritation, either due to weakness or overuse.

Spinal arthritis is the inflammation of the joints of the spine. It can cause the breakdown of the cartilage between the aligning facet joints in the back portion of the spine. As the facet joints become inflamed they create frictional pain as bone rubs on bone.

Therapeutic massage can help reduce osteoarthritis pain by improving circulation and reducing stress and muscle tension. However, it is important to find a professional who is specifically trained in treating people with arthritis.

Fibromyalgia is a widespread musculoskeletal pain and fatigue disorder for which the cause is still unknown.

Fibromyalgia means pain in the muscles, ligaments, and tendons, and is usually characterized by pain, stiffness and fatigue. The patient typically feels both widespread pain and pain in specific points as evidenced by physical examination. Massage can target both the tender points and the more broadly distributed pain and stiffness.

Although massage therapy is relatively safe, it is always advisable for patients to first check with their doctor before any treatment. Massage may not be suitable to those who have had recent surgery or who suffer from osteoporosis.

Chiropractors and Back Pain- Alternative Therapy for Back Pain

Chiropractors treat health problems that are associated with the body’s muscular, nervous, and skeletal systems, especially the spine. The science of chiropractic is mainly based around spinal manipulation.

With manipulation, a practitioner will use their hands to mobilize, adjust, massage, or stimulate the spine or surrounding tissues. The purpose of spinal manipulation is to restore joint mobility by applying a controlled force into joints that have become restricted in their movement.

The word chiropractic comes from the Greek words chiro and praktikis, and roughly means done by hand.

This refers to how a chiropractor will use their hands to manipulate the spine. Chiropractic is a healing discipline based on science. Although its main focus is the relationship between the skeleton and the nervous system, chiropractic is concerned with the entire body.

Chiropractic is by far the most popular form of alternative health care, and uses a holistic approach in its treatment.

Chiropractors believe the correct alignment of the spine is necessary for the nervous system to function properly.

The theory is that the body cannot function and heal itself without the nervous system being free of interference. The interference with these systems impairs the body’s normal functions and lowers its resistance to disease. The spine is the most common site of nervous interference because nerves travel from the spinal cord through openings on either side of the spine to get to all of your cells and organs.

Chiropractic adjustments involve applying a controlled, sudden force to a joint. It is a non-invasive, manual procedure that utilizes the skills developed through intensive chiropractic education. Adjustment is a carefully controlled procedure delivered by a skilled practitioner. The primary goal is to decrease pain and to improve range of motion in the joints and supporting tissues.

Like other health practitioners, chiropractors will take the patient’s medical history, conduct various examinations; and may order laboratory tests in order to make a diagnosis and develop a treatment. X-rays and other diagnostic images are important tools to a chiropractor as they show the position of the spine and its alignment.

Chiropractors practice a drug-free, manual approach to health care that includes patient assessment, diagnosis and treatment. Chiropractors are also trained to recommend therapeutic exercise, to utilize other non-invasive therapies, as well as to provide nutritional, dietary and lifestyle counseling.

Some chiropractors use treatments in addition to spinal manipulation.

These include therapy using water, light, massage, ultrasound, electric impulses, acupuncture and heat. They also may apply supports such as straps, tapes, and braces. Chiropractors counsel patients about wellness concepts such as nutrition, exercise, changes in lifestyle, and stress management, but do not prescribe drugs or perform surgery.

Chiropractic training is a 4-year academic program. It consists of both classroom and clinical instruction.

Students are only eligible for chiropractic training after first completing at least three years of college. Students who graduate receive the degree of Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.). All chiropractors are regulated by their state’s license board.

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