Back pain therapy comes, as noted in part 1 of this article, in a wide variety of styles. Conventional medicine provides back pain therapy in prescription pain relievers, surgery, and physical therapist-guided exercise.
Alternative back pain therapy includes those already discussed: acupressure (shiatsu), acupuncture, and injections of irritants to strengthen tendons and ligaments.
Alternative back pain therapy also includes the following four treatment
1. Rolfing Massage
Rolfing is a type of back pain therapy that relies on strong pressure massage. Unlike shiatsu, which is normally not painful, this back pain therapy can be uncomfortable. The practitioner applies strong pressure on deep tissues in the back, with a goal of structural integrity. In other words, by relieving tightness of the fascia, a sheath of tissue covering back muscles, the practitioner hopes to ensure that all organs, bones, and tissues are properly positioned within the body. This back pain therapy is said to improve posture also. Developed by Dr. Ida Rolf (1878-1979), the massage is thought to facilitate body alignment. Careful, systematic manual pressure is thought to relieve chronic restrictions, providing the body with the freedom it needs to “re-organize” at very deep levels.
2. Spinal Manipulation
Chiropractors and osteopathic doctors are most likely to use this type of back pain therapy. Spinal manipulation involves use of the hands to adjust, massage, mobilize, or stimulate the spine and the tissues that surround it. The belief is that this back pain therapy will restore joint mobility by applying a controlled force into joints that have become restricted in movement. If you have arthritis in your back, osteoporosis, or spinal cord compression, this back pain therapy is not a good choice.
The idea behind this back pain therapy is that back function will improve if the back is stretched through the use of pulleys and weights. The rationale is to pull apart vertebrae, allowing a bulging disc to slip back into place. For some people, pain relief is experienced while in traction, but the relief is temporary. Once traction has been removed, the pain returns.
4. Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS)
TENS back pain therapy uses mild electric impulses to stimulate the nerve endings under the skin in the area of pain. The sufferer administers this back pain therapy at home by placing electrodes on the skin near the area of pain. The electrodes are connected to a small, battery-powered TENS unit. It is believed that the low level of electrical current used in TENS works by stimulating the release of endorphins, the body’s natural pain-blocking chemicals. As endorphins are released into the spinal fluid, pain is numbed.
Back pain therapy can do actual damage if used in the wrong way or under the wrong conditions. Before trying alternative back pain therapy, please talk to your health care provider.
The information presented here 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 prove uncertain as to the outcomes, but some do obtain relief from the treatments described.