Chronic back pain will affect approximately 80% of the population at some point in their lives. Although there’s been a crackdown on conventional medicine fuelling the opioid crisis, there’s also been growing evidence to show that opioid pain killers are not a superior treatment strategy for chronic back pain relief. (1)
So, what about natural options? This article explores the best 7 natural options for chronic back pain relief.
Chronic Back Pain Background
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Chronic back pain is the single leading cause of disability, worldwide (2) and is one of the most common reasons for missed work. In fact, one-half of all working Americans admit to experiencing back pain symptoms each year (3), and it is indeed a global burden.
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Understanding Chronic Back Pain
Before we look at the 7 best natural options to treat back pain, it’s important to understand what’s causing the back pain to begin with!
Pain in the back comes in 3 forms, and this is how back pain is categorized for easy identification:
- Acute Back Pain – This pain in the back can last up to 4 weeks, maximum
- Sub-Acute Back Pain – This type of severe back pain can last between 4 to 12 weeks
- Chronic Back Pain – This pain usually lasts far longer than 12 weeks
Different Back Pain Areas
Back pain can occur in 4 different areas – Cervical (which includes the neck), thoracic (upper back), lumbar (lower back) and pelvic (coccyx and hip area).
Is Your Chronic Back Pain Non-Specific or Mechanical?
Most chronic back pain is “mechanical” (the pain originates from the joints, bones or soft tissues in and around the spine). An example of mechanical back pain would be osteoarthritis.
Many people also experience “non-specific” back pain (where there’s no obvious mechanical cause). This type of back pain can be acute, but over time the back will generall heal itself, through proper stretching, physiotherapy and movement. When it doesn’t heal…that’s when it becomes chronic back pain.
As most of us either sit hunched over at a desk or on our smartphones, poor posture has a direct effect on causing back pain!
Chronic Back Pain Caused by Medical Conditions
Conditions that can cause back pain include:
- slipped (prolapsed) disc – where the disc of cartilage in the spine presses on a nerve
- A slipped disc causes back pain and numbness, tingling and weakness in other parts of the body
- spondylolisthesis – a bone in the spine slips out of position
- Spondylolisthesis can cause lower back pain and stiffness, in addition to numbness and a tingling sensation
- sciatica – irritation of the ne om the lower back to the feet
- Sciatica can cause pain, numbness, tingling and weakness in the lower back, buttocks, legs and feet
- ankylosing spondylitis – swelling of the joints in the spine
- Ankylosing spondylitis this causes pain and stiffness that’s usually worse in the morning and improves with movement
Opioids and Chronic Back Pain
The use of opioids (such as tramadol, codeine and morphine) have been widely used by conventional medicine to treat back pain. However, there have been studies proving that opioids do not cause any significant improvements over non-opioid therapies. (4)
As with all medications, opioids have their place in specific therapies, however, the misuse and over-prescribing of opioids in America has now caused the largest drug epidemic causing addiction and 130 deaths – a day.
One of the biggest issues regarding the opioid crisis, is that in many instances conventional medicine (and ultimately pharmaceutical companies) are not offering natural options to treat chronic back pain – they’re just offering opioids or non-opioid pharmaceuticals instead. In many cases making the situation worse, rather than better!
When Chronic Back Pain Goes Way Beyond the Physical Symptoms
Chronic back pain can also have a significant impact on an individual’s mental and emotional health.
The feeling of incapacitation that a person with chronic back pain experiences can trigger anxiety, depression, stress, and anger.
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How to Treat Chronic Back Pain – Naturally
Natural options to treat chronic back pain are becoming more and more mainstream. These natural options may include supplements and treatments such as spinal manipulation.
Many people assume that natural alternatives, (such as supplements vs prescriptions) aren’t very potent. However, that may not be the case! Should you wish to use a supplement always seek advice from a medical professional to ensure that the natural remedy or supplement doesn’t interfere with your current medications or health conditions. The information found in this article is not intended as medical advice, simply information.
A functional health practitioner (such as a naturopath, chiropractor or homeopath) is your #1 best option in getting specific treatments tailored to you and your needs. However, many of us don’t have that option, so we end up treating ourselves naturally on our own.
Hence why we’ve put together this article for the best 7 natural options for chronic back pain.
Here’s the Best 7 Natural Options For Chronic Back Pain Relief
1. CBD Oil
Cannabidiol (CBD) from the cannabis plant has been a natural remedy for a multitude of health issues, including the treatment of chronic pain. Not to be confused with THC (which is psychoactive), CBD is legally available in many countries and has been gaining popularity as an exceptional natural pain relief alternative.
Note: Not all CBD products are high quality! Many products on the market have been watered down and are of questionable origin! Look for an organic option from a reputable company, such as Joy Organics.Ps. Many CBD oils available on Amazon and eBay contain very little CBD and have been ‘watered’ down.
Here’s just a few potential benefits of CBD oil:
- Can provide pain relief including back pain
- Can reduce anxiety and depression
- Can help relieve cancer-related symptoms
- Might have neuroprotective properties
- May reduce acne
- Could benefit heart health
For further information, please check out HealthLine’s 7 Benefits and Uses of CBD Oil article.
Heat can help reduce back pain, and stimulates the healing of damaged tissues.
When you use heat for chronic back pain, it brings more blood into the area by causing the blood vessels to open wide (dilate). This brings more blood into the area to stimulate healing of damaged tissues.
Additionally, heat helps to relieve pain and spasms, and ease stiffness.
Although you can use a hot water bottle or a microwaveable pack with rice (or another ingredient), they tend not to stay hot for too long, and can be uncomfortable for back pain. That’s why I recommend a heating pad that you can use while sitting up, which covers your back and neck, like this Maxcare XL heating pad for neck and shoulder pain.
Arnica can help relieve back pain… This Arnica Montana from Amazon has great reviews. It is a homeopathic medicine that helps to temporarily relieve muscle pain & stiffness due to minor injuries, overexertion & falls. Also great for other types of pain, swelling, & discoloration from bruises.
Did you know that most of the population is magnesium deficient? And that Epsom salt is actually very high in magnesium? Having a soak in a tub for at least 20 minutes with 2 cups of Epsom salt can not only help reduce back pain, and other muscle pains, it can also help you to you sleep better, too!
This Dr Teal’s 3 pack bundle of Epsom salt with lavender, eucalyptus spearmint and rosemary mint can help you relax, unwind and soak away aching muscles.
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Topical application of menthol helps to improve blood flow while eliminating wastes in your blood. Improved blood flow helps to accelerate the rate of recovery for back pain.
Our #1 favourite way of treating back pain with menthol has to be Salonpas patches.
These comfortable, effective topical pain patches have 3 powerful pain fighters that work at the site of pain and the patches aren’t painful to remove and last at least 12 hours, too!
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6. Infrared (Red Light) Therapy
Infrared is truly amazing as it helps to heal your body from the inside out. And it feels sooooo good, too!
If you suffer from chronic pain, then infrared and red light therapy treatment offers a drug free treatment alternative, or at the very least an auxiliary treatment option. It is especially prescribed for arthritis sufferers – and it can work fast, too!
If you have the space, and can afford to invest in an infrared sauna, I cannot recommend doing this enough. Not only does it feel great, and helps to detoxify your system, it really does help to alleviate pain!
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This near infrared red light therapy device is designed for back pain and can be wrapped around the area of pain.
7. TENS Unit
If you’re looking for a simple, yet tried, tested and true back pain relief option that is drug-free, then a TENS unit is generally #1 on people’s list.
The great thing about a TENS unit is that once you’ve got the pads in place, you can wear the unit on the go. However…the bad news is, if you have back pain and want to use a TENS unit, then you will need assistance in getting the pads off and on.
This FDA cleared Healthmate Forever TENS unit is our best-seller on the One Stop Pain Shop. And for good reason! Because it works great on back pain, and other types of pain all over the body, too!
Specifically designed mode buttons make pain management quick and easy. Simple and easy to use! Safe, Non-Invasive, All-Natural and Drug-free.
How Does a TENS Unit Work?
TENS is an acronym for transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation. It’s a device used for the self-management of pain management. Each unit comes with sticky electrodes which you place on the painful area (on the skin), such as on the small of your back.
The pain cycle is interrupted by a non-painful sensation to the skin around the targeted site. Basically, the TENS modulates the way we process the pain sensations from that area. In fact, maternity wards use TENS machines to help with contraction pains! (In other words, hospitals use them for pain…because they work!).
What Does a TENS Unit Feel Like?
When the TENS unit is turned on a small current passes through the electrodes onto the skin and tissues just beneath it and you can set different types of modes delivering different pulsation types.
Brace yourself! Depending on the strength of the pulse you can feel anything from pins-and-needles tingling at lower settings to higher intensities which can make your muscles twitch.
With the use of a range of holistic approaches, together with gentle exercise, back pain can be greatly alleviated and improved. Physiotherapy, accupuncture and other drug-free options can also help to improve chronic back pain.
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