Back pain is not an uncommon problem in the modern world. There may be many underlying reasons for chronic back pain. It is recommended in the latest treatment guidelines that the people suffering from chronic back pain must go for drug-free remedies ranging from simple heat application to physical therapy before starting the medication. The recommendation emphasises more on the drug-free modalities to get pain relief. It is a common mistake that the patients over-treat their back pain. They use medicines before trying the non-drug pain-relieving methods which are not a good practice.
Common Causes of Back Pain
There are many causes of chronic back pain but some of the common ones are described as following:
- Arthritis of vertebral column which causes the progressive thinning of the cartilage inside the vertebral column.
- Spinal stenosis which is a condition in which narrowing of the central canal of the spinal column happens leading to nerve impinging and pain
- Any disc problem such as disc tearing, disc fracture and a herniated or bulging disc.
- Myofascial pain syndrome. It is unexplained muscle pain and tenderness.
Here we’ll describe some non-drug approaches for relieving your chronic lower back pain.
Physical therapy is a very efficacious first step in dealing with common causes of back pain. According to a study published in Health Services Research in May 2018, the persons suffering from chronic lower back pain who first visited a physical therapist had fewer chances to have opioid drug advice as compared to the persons who visited a primary care doctor first. A physical therapist advises you individualised workouts, body alignment postures and stretches that help in the relaxation of tight muscles which in turn enhances the range of movements and reduces back pain and joint stiffness.
Many studies have proven that yoga is very beneficial for back pain, especially for back pain. A study conducted in 2017 from the National Institute of Health discovered that the patients suffering from lower backache who attended weekly yoga classes for three months felt less ache and improved physical function as compared to the persons who seek for educational information regarding dealing with back pain. Yoga act to emphasise the poses to enhance the strength of back and core musculature.
It is the rule of thumb that pain always worsens by the reaction of the patient like anxiety and stress. Cognitive behavioral therapy can help the patient in managing and reacting to pain. It does not directly affect the underlying cause of the pain but it acts to reduce the perception of pain severity and also prevents the recurrent episodes.
Cognitive behavioural therapy teaches patients to give a response to negative thinking in a positive way. The therapist explores your negative thoughts, find out the triggering factor of these negative thoughts and your reaction to these thoughts. The therapist helps you in developing strategies for pain management and minimising the effect of these negative thoughts.
Massage therapy causes the relaxation of muscles and thus helps in the muscular pain as well as the pain which is aggravated by anxiety and stress. It is found from studies that after 2.5 months of massage therapy, 40% of the patients reported that their pain was completely relieved or reduced as compared to the only 4% of the persons of the control group who received the treatment with an anti-inflammatory drug. According to another study, 20 minutes gentle massage was given to the patients for two to three days after cancer surgery and it significantly reduced the tension, pain, and anxiety of the patients.
Chronic back pain gives both physical and mental stress. You may need a referral to a rehabilitation psychologist to manage irritability, depression, frustration, and other psychological aspects. The specialist may suggest meditation, yoga, tai chi or other relaxation techniques to keep your mind away from thinking about pain.
Some diets are rich in inflammatory substances like processed foods, refined sugars, and trans fatty acids. Take advice from your doctor to know if your diet is a contributing factor towards your chronic back pain and how you can correct it. Foods that have anti-inflammatory properties include
- Bright colored vegetables and fruits like tomatoes, oranges, strawberries, blueberries, sweet potatoes, carrots, and beets.
- Fatty fish for example mackerel, salmon and sardines.
- Green leafy vegetables, i.e. kale, collards, broccoli, and spinach.
- Monounsaturated fatty acids are much healthier. That include canola oil, olive oil, and avocado.
- Nuts which include peanuts in moderation, walnuts, and almonds.
- Seeds for example pumpkin, chia seeds, and sunflower seeds.
Maintain your Body Weight
It is very important to maintain your weight within the normal limit of body mass index if you want to keep your spine in a healthy condition. Extra body weight exerts extra pressure to the vertebral column. Back musculatures are also strained by the extra weight and back pain happens. Maintaining a healthy weight also contributes to your pain reduction by relieving stress from your vertebral column.
Get Enough Calcium
Calcium is the basic thing to get strong bones, joints and teeth. Taking an adequate amount of calcium and vitamin D help in the reduction of chronic back pain caused by degenerative changes that leave a bad impact on bone density and strength for example osteoporosis.
Adults should take 1000 to 1200 mg of calcium and 600 to 800 international units of vitamin D on a daily basis. It is good to take calcium from dietary sources. Foods rich in calcium are
- Canned salmon and sardines with bones
- Dairy that includes cheese, milk, and yogurt
- Green leafy vegetables
- Soybeans and tofu
If you feel difficulty in taking enough amount of calcium from the diet, you can use calcium supplements with the advice of your doctor.