This article originally appeared on Live in the Now.
It’s estimated that around 80% of people will suffer from back pain at some point in their lives, and for many it will become a recurring issue that has a significant impact on daily life.
The cause of back pain is different for each individual, so no single treatment can claim to be universally effective. Conventional medicine offers many effective techniques for dealing with back pain; however, the use of complementary therapies can make a huge difference for many people.
Here we look at a few complementary methods reported to be quite effective for alleviating back pain.
#1: Capsaicin Cream
Capsaicin is derived from chili peppers and is often used as a temporary method of pain relief. It depletes a pain transmitting neurochemical called substance P when applied to the skin, which helps to provide pain relief to the user. While it has been shown to provide effective temporary relief, there’s no evidence that it’s useful as a long-term solution to back pain.
Acupuncture has been a well-known, proven method of pain relief for hundreds of years. The practice involves the use of fine needles inserted at certain points in the body, designed to treat a network of energy that allows nutrients to better reach parts of the body. It has shown positive effects on lower back pain for many patients, and a study has shown that it can be more effective than traditional Western medicine in treating back pain.
Yoga is another ancient practice to have shown a positive correlation with a reduction in back pain. It involves a wide range of stretching exercises that improve flexibility, strength and balance. Much like acupuncture, studies have suggested that yoga can be extremely effective in reducing lower back pain. Current treatment of lower back pain recommends staying active, and improvements in core strength and flexibility make yoga an ideal solution.
#4: Vitamin D
Initially considered only beneficial for building strong bones, the role vitamin D plays in the body is far greater than previously thought. Alongside a wide range of other health benefits, vitamin D has been shown to have an effect on back pain. A study found that in a group of lower back pain sufferers, 83% were deficient in vitamin D — considerably above the average for the general population. When patients were given vitamin D supplements, 95% of subjects in the study witnessed some improvement in back pain levels.
#5: Alexander Technique
The Alexander technique involves fully assessing the way you use your body and optimizing your movements to protect your spine. Programs are tailored to your own unique circumstances (office workers will require different advice than construction workers) to help you take care of your back throughout the day.
Hydrotherapy relieves back pain by loosening muscles and aiding the body in removing the toxins that cause pain and inflammation. It can involve submerging the body in hot water, steam rooms and saunas, as well as the use of wraps. While these treatments are often offered by physiotherapy and physical rehabilitation clinics, a simple hot bath can have excellent pain relieving effects. It’s unlikely to be a permanent solution to back pain, but it can provide some relief in the short term.