According to the American College of Physicians (ACP), most Americans have experienced low back pain. And approximately one quarter of U.S. adults reported having low back pain lasting at least one day in the past three months. Just this month the ACP released new guidelines for treating back pain, favoring natural and alternative therapies first over drug treatments. For acute pain heat wraps, massage, acupuncture, tai chi, yoga, and spinal manipulation therapies are evidenced in the guidelines to help ease pain and discomfort without the need for costly and potentially addictive narcotics. For pain lasting more than three months, here is a look at several of the treatments recommended by ACP guidelines:
1. Massage. Massage therapy can help relieve tension and soreness through pressure on the affected muscles. As they are massaged blood flow increases, lactic acid is flushed from the muscles, ligaments and tendons are stretched, and nerves are relaxed, allowing the muscles to release and pain to subside.
2. Stretching and Strengthening. Regular stretching to elongate and release the tensions in the muscles can be crucial in relieving stress off the low back and hips and help stabilize the spine. It can also increase flexibility, decreasing your risk for future injuries. Always ask your health care professional which strengthening exercises are right for you.
3. Yoga. Yoga poses can help strengthen the body’s core or abdominal muscles, which can help prevent back pain, and make you less prone to future back injuries. Yoga can also elongate the cervical spine and promote proper spinal alignment—which is essential for maintaining the natural curve of the spine, which helps reduce low back pain.
4. Tai Chi. Tai Chi emulates the motions and ideas behind an ancient Chinese martial art called Tai Chi Quan which emphasizes slow and soft movements, and doesn’t involve jolting motions that create impact on the spine. (http://www.spine-health.com/wellness/yoga-pilates-tai-chi/tai-chi-posture-and-back-pain)
5. Acupuncture. Stimulating certain trigger points (the body is believed to have more than 2,000 points) in the central nervous system is thought to release chemicals into the muscles, spinal cord, and brain that help relieve pain and promote a sense of well-being.
6. Meditation. Meditation can help ease back pain by focusing on something else that is relaxing and tranquil. In addition, when the body is in a state of mindfulness, the muscle tension and heart rate decreases, which can slow but deepen breathing, influencing the effect of the pain.
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