Holistic Treatments and Practices for Back Pain

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Well Researched
Lots of Success Stories

Acupuncture is believed to stimulate the nervous system to release chemicals that change (reduce) the experience of pain.  There is a wide variety of anecdotal evidence for the efficacy of Acupuncture for back pain, and multiple research have shown positive results, particularly for lower and chronic back pain.

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Well Researched
Lots of Success Stories

The Alexander Technique is a proven method of self care that reduces pain, increases your mobility and provides long term relief. You learn to restore appropriate levels of muscle tension during common daily activities, such as sitting, standing up, and walking. By gaining improved awareness of your movement, you are able to reduce painful movements, while by reducing tension, you minimize the wear and tear on the muscles and other structures of the spine vulnerable to compression.

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Well Researched
Lots of Success Stories

Shiatsu is a method of Traditional Chinese Medicine massage that focuses on balancing the Qi, or energy of the body. Shiatsu can potentially relieve a variety of types of back pain by alleviating pinched nerves, improving circulation of the blood, relaxing the muscles, releasing endorphins and stimulating the immune system, and by stimulating the organs and muscles in the back.

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Well Researched
Lots of Success Stories

Tai Chi is one of the complementary treatments most commonly used to treat back pain.  Tai Chi exercises are a set of slow and deliberate, flowing movements that one practices repetitively.  Tai Chi has been shown to improved pain and disability outcomes for those experiencing long-term low back pain symptoms. There have been studies showing a positive impact of tai chi on back pain, muscle density, balance, and increased musculoskeletal strength, as well as self reported improvements in mood and decreases in pain. 

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Well Researched
Lots of Success Stories

Many back pain sufferers find yoga to be very effective in reducing their pain. Over time, yoga can increase your strength and flexibility, effectively counteracting the tightness and weak muscles that cause many types of back pain.

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Well Researched
Some Success Stories

Guided imagery is similar to meditation in that you are using your mind to help relax your body through mental practices that bring a feeling of relief and relaxation. This mental relaxation helps ease muscle tension and alleviate back pain.

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Moderate Research
Some Success Stories

Hydrotherapy is the use of water by external applications, either for its pressure effect or as a means of 
applying physical energy to a tissue. The stimulating effects of the water create energy shifts within the body known to effectively relieve back pain. 

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Little Research
Some Success Stories

Cupping is able to loosen stiff muscles, unblock pinched nerves, and unbind Myofascial adhesions (injuries to the soft tissue) by using suction to draw the blood to the surface helping to relax tight and bound muscle tissue.

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Moderate Research
Lots of Success Stories

Aromatherapy uses essential oils that are extracted from different plants, which have medicinal properties and work on the physical and mental levels to address back pain and to promote healing.  Aromatherapy can increase circulation, and relieve aching and tightness. Scents and oils can be effective because they work directly on the amygdala; the brain’s emotional center.   Aromatherapy is often used in combination with Massage or Acupressure or Acupuncture for back pain, and often as a complement to traditional medical treatment.

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Moderate Research
Some Success Stories

Biofeedback and back pain have been studied in terms of how biofeedback can help reduce muscle activity in patients with chronic low back pain, as well as in training the low back musculature to reduce chronic low back pain.

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Moderate Research
Some Success Stories

Chiropractic care is primarily used for back pain as a pain relief alternative for muscles, joints, bones, and connective tissue, such as cartilage, ligaments, and tendons. Chiropractors use hands-on spinal manipulation and other alternative treatments to correct the alignment of the body's musculoskeletal structure, particularly the spine so that the body can heal itself without surgery or medication.

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Moderate Research
Some Success Stories

Stress can causes us to tense up physically, and tense muscles can then pull on our back and cause pain. Massage therapy reduces stress and anxiety by relaxing both mind and body.

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Little Research
Lots of Success Stories

Triggerpoint therapy can reduce back pain, increase movement, and allow the muscles to lengthen and become stronger again. Trigger point therapy may take multiple sessions to be effective for back pain, but anecdotal evidence for it is positive.

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Little Research
Some Success Stories

Flower Essences realign the electromagnetic frequencies in the body, without using needles.   Properly combined, Flower Essences have dramatic results in helping the body to readjust itself to the vibration of health and harmony.

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No Research
A Few Success Stories

There are a variety of Juice therapies that are recommended for back pain.  The right juices help your body begin the process of reducing inflammation, detoxification, and a return to health. As a result, you will likely feel less pain, see a reduction in swelling, and be more active.  

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Little Research
Lots of Success Stories

Bowen Therapy is a type of bodywork (like massage) that involves gentle, precise movements performed by the practitioner. It relies on the concept that signals constantly circulate throughout the body, telling the various parts of the body how to respond under certain conditions. Bowen Therapy establishes healthy responses in all areas in the body including the back, thus relieving the causes of back pain. 

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Little Research
Some Success Stories

Ayurvedic treatments for back pain may include a combination of herbal preparations (to encourage equilibrium in the body), massage, herbal enemas, ayurvedic herbs and lifestyle recommendations, acupuncture and training in movement therapies like yoga.  The goal of Ayurveda, as in Traditional Chinese Medicine, is to treat the patient, not the disease.

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No Research
Lots of Success Stories

Qigong is a Chinese system of physical and mental training similar to yoga and tai chi, which promotes relaxation, flexibility and holistic well-being. 

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Little Research
Some Success Stories

Many patients report relief from back pain with reflexology treatments.  The goal of a reflexology session is likely to be the immediate relief from pain combined with an attempt to restore balance to the body to reduce the likelihood of further episodes. A reflexology session may also improve circulation within the body, which can reduce back pain. 

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No Research
Lots of Success Stories

Reiki is an energy healing technique based on the concept that the energy flowing through your body can become blocked, and unblocking this energy can cause healing and relief from pain. 

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No Research
Some Success Stories

The effectiveness of BodyTalk for back pain is anecdotal; with enthusiastic testimonials from people who say that BodyTalk relieved their back pain.   A BodyTalk practitioner offers no diagnosis or prescription, but instead a "rewiring" session using muscle testing and light tapping on the head and sternum to reestablish channels of communication within the body so that the body will return to optimal functioning.

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Research Level Indeterminate
Success Stories Not Rated

Traditional Chinese Medicine covers a broad spectrum of therapies and practices based mainly on the five element theories, eight principles, meridians and yin-yang.  Traditional Chinese Medicine uses these to diagnose and treat back pain with the most appropriate therapy (acupuncture, herbs, Qigong, etc.).

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Back Pain

Summary

Back pain is one of the most common ailments of people living in resource-rich countries.  It can range from a sharp pain to a dull, constant throbbing and can come on suddenly or be a chronic condition.  The pain can move around the back and radiate to the hands and feet. 

Back pain can be categorized as

  • neck pain, 
  • middle back pain, 
  • lower back pain or 
  • tailbone pain.  

It is the fifth most common reason for doctor visits in North America and two thirds of adults will experience back pain at some point in their lives.

Back pain can have many causes:

  • Over activity
  • Accident or Injury
  • Vertebrae degeneration
  • Disk injury
  • Infection
  • Disease

98% of people with back pain are diagnosed with nonspecific acute back pain which has no serious underlying pathology.  2% however, have secondary back pain which is caused by an underlying pre-existing condition.  The majority of back pain disappears on its own within 72 hours while acute back pain can last up to three months or longer and pain management becomes critical.

Because back pain is such a large field and can be related to so many other conditions, it is difficult to draw conclusions about which treatments will be best to help manage it, but many holistic therapies can provide relief from pain.  In addition, back pain and what works to relieve it can be very individual.  We do hope that the list of treatments made available here will help you to get a broader sense of what is available, and hopefully find treatments that you find  worthwhile.  If you do, please share your story to help others!

Also known as

Acute Back Pain, Back Ache, Back Spasms, Backpain, Lower Back Pain, Lumbar Strain, Sore Back, Strained Back