Back pain therapy comes in a wide assortment, including both conventional and alternative styles. Unlike some physical complaints, back pain has received great attention – perhaps because it is the most common reason people visit a doctor. That attention has resulted in multiplication of back pain therapy forms. The back pain therapy of conventional medicine is usually centered in prescription pain relievers or surgery.
In this entry, we look at alternative back pain therapy. Please note that this is for educational purposes only. The author is not a medical professional, and does not recommend any one back pain therapy over another. Studies of alternative back pain therapy continue to prove inconclusive, but some have obtained relief from the treatments described here.
Japanese back pain therapy that has been used for centuries, acupressure involves pressure on specific body points. Pressure is applied with the finger tips and palm of the hand. The pressure is applied in a slow, rhythmical manner. It may be light, or it may gradually go deep into a muscle point. The Japanese term for this back pain therapy is “shiastsu”, which means finger pressure. Shiatsu was recognized by Japanese law in 1955, and this official definition of Shiatsu was published in 1957 by the Ministry of Welfare’s medical department:
Shiatsu technique refers to the use of fingers and the palm of one’s hands to apply pressure to particular sections on the surface of the body for the purpose of correcting imbalances of the body, and for maintaining and promoting health. It is also a method contributing to the healing of specific illnesses.
Shiatsu is not massage, although this back pain therapy is sometimes referred to as shiatsu massage. There is no rubbing, pushing, or pulling. The fingers or palm press gradually down on the desired points and as gradually withdraw. It is safe and effective back pain therapy.
This ancient Chinese back pain therapy is based on the belief that a life energy flows throughout the body. If at any point in the body that flow is interrupted, illness can result. Acupuncture attempts to unblock the life energy routes by insertion of thin needles at precise locations. This back pain therapy relies on that release of blockage to relieve back pain and restore health. In some practices, acupuncture needles are twisted after insertion to foster endorphin production. In other practices, a low-voltage electrical current is passed through the needles.
When conventional back pain therapy with medications fails, injections may be used to relieve chronic back pain. Some of the most commonly used injections include facet point injections, nerve root blocks, and trigger point injections. One injection type back pain therapy is termed “prolotherapy”. Prolotherapy is defined as a treatment in which a sugar or solution or other irritating substance is injected into the periosteum, the fibrous tissue covering the bones. This irritating solution is thought to strengthen the attachment of tendons and ligaments.
In Part 2 of this article, we will look at four more forms of back pain therapy.
Before trying alternative back pain therapy, please talk to your health care provider.