Schedule an appointment with a chiropractor or osteopath. Chiropractors and osteopaths are spinal specialists who focus on establishing normal motion and function of the small spinal joints that connect the vertebrae, called spinal facet joints. Manual joint manipulation, also called an adjustment, can be used to unjam or reposition facet joints that are slightly misaligned, which triggers inflammation and sharp pain, particularly with movement.
- Although a single spinal adjustment can sometimes completely relieve your back pain, more than likely it will take 3-5 treatments to notice significant results. Your health insurance may not cover chiropractic care.
- Chiropractors and osteopaths also use a variety of therapies tailored more towards muscle strains, which may be more appropriate for your back issue.
- Traction techniques or stretching of your spine with an inversion table may also help your back pain. Some chiropractors have inversion tables in their offices, which allows you to turn yourself upside down in a controlled and easy way, enlisting the help of gravity to decompress your spine. Consider buying an inversion table for home use
Get a professional massage. A strained muscle occurs when individual muscle fibers tear, which leads to pain, inflammation and some degree of guarding (muscle spasm in attempts to prevent further damage). A deep tissue massage is helpful for mild-to-moderate strains because it reduces muscle spasm, combats inflammation and promotes relaxation. Start with a 30 minute massage, focusing on your entire spine and hips. Allow the therapist to go as deep as you can tolerate without wincing.
- Always drink lots of water immediately following a massage in order to flush out inflammatory by-products and lactic acid from your body. Failure to do so might cause a headache or mild nausea.
Try an acupuncture treatment. Acupuncture involves sticking very thin needles into specific energy points within the skin / muscle in efforts to reduce pain and inflammation. Acupuncture for back pain can be effective, especially if it’s done when the symptoms first occur. Based on the principles of traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture works by releasing a variety of substances including endorphins and serotonin, which act to reduce pain.
- There is mixed scientific evidence that acupuncture is helpful in relieving chronic back pain, but there’s lots of anecdotal reports that many people find it extremely helpful.
- Acupuncture points that may provide relief to your back pain are not all located near where you feel the pain — some can be in distant areas of the body.
- Acupuncture is practiced by a variety of health professionals including some physicians, chiropractors, naturopaths, physical therapists and massage therapists — whoever you choose should be certified by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine.
- “Dry needling” is another type of therapy involving acupuncture needles, but without the Chinese traditional medical techniques. It may be helpful to relieve pain.
Consider relaxation or “mind-body” therapies. Stress-relieving practices like meditation, tai chi and breathing exercises have been found to help alleviate musculoskeletal pain and help prevent injuries in many people. Yoga is also great for relaxation and involves practicing specific postures or poses and helpful breathing exercises.
- Yoga poses can stretch and strengthen muscles and improve posture, although you might need to modify some poses if they aggravate your back pain.
- Try mindful meditation. Mindful meditation is a form of pain management that can be done anywhere at any time. One study found that three 20-minute meditation sessions over the course of three days not only reduced pain, it also appeared to have a lasting effect far beyond the 20 minutes spent in meditation.