If you have chronic lower back pain, you may find that you need increasing amounts of medication to be comfortable. With this comes an increased risk of side effects from the medication. Another approach is to add one or more alternatives to medication to your back pain management. Talk with your doctor about adopting the following techniques as part of your overall back pain treatment plan.
This is an ancient Chinese medicine technique that many western doctors have ben trained to use. It's based on the concept of energy meridians, pathways in the human body through which vital energy flows. When these pathways become blocked, the energy can't flow through the body normally, causing pain or disease. The goal of the practitioner in using acupuncture is to open up those pathways to allow the energy to flow again.
Tiny needles are inserted just under the skin along these energy pathways. The blood circulation is improved and the body releases its natural pain relieving hormones, called endorphins, in response to the treatment. Some people respond well to this treatment to relieve pain and stiffness in their lower back.
Acupressure and Meridian Tapping
These two techniques also make use of the Chinese energy meridians. With acupressure, pressure from the fingertips or a special tool is applied to points along the pathways to gain relief from pain. Meridian tapping uses a light tapping of the fingertips along the energy pathways to remove blocks to the free movement of energy. An advantage of this technique over acupuncture is that you can learn to use them on yourself. This gives you a tool for pain relief whenever and wherever you should have a painful flare up.
Transcutaneous Nervous Stimulation (TENS)
This device sends a small electrical current into your lower back to disrupt the pain signals that your body is sending to your brain. If your brain doesn't receive those signals, it doesn't know to react to the irritated nerves in your back. This treatment provides no cure to your back pain. When the TENS device is turned off, your pain response returns. But this is a useful option to reduce pain when undergoing other treatments, such as physical therapy. It may also be a way to gain some temporary relief when you need to focus on a work project or a task at home.
Some people find that adopting meditation into their lives helps them cope with the back pain. A form of meditation, called mindfulness meditation, teaches you to detach yourself from the pain sensations. If you can visualize yourself and the pain as two separate entities, then you can choose how you react to the pain. When used successfully, you may choose to experience warmth in your lower back instead of the stabbing pain that accompanies a flare up of the back pain. A practitioner can teach you this meditation technique and then you'll have access to it any time to manage your painful lower back.