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Finding Relief from Back Pain

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Living with back pain can be a real struggle. A nagging back ache not only robs you of your daily routine, it even makes a good night’s sleep impossible. Certain types of back pain creep up slowly, while others come on suddenly when you least expect. Understanding back pain and finding ways to relieve it is the way to total relief.

Back pain is usually caused by a traumatic accident, a simple sprain or strain, fibromyalgia, arthritis of the spine, a fractured vertebra or ruptured disc. Seeking the right, timely medical help is crucial to keep back pain from returning.

Get help and medication
Take medication if you need it. Using medication at the right time can help ease your pain enough to get you up and moving.

Medications for back pain include:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Examples: ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn)
  • Analgesic (pain-relieving) drugs. Examples: over-the-counter acetaminophen (Tylenol), narcotic drugs such as acetaminophen with codeine (Fioricet), hydrocodone with acetaminophen (Lortab, Vicodin)
  • Antidepressants. Examples: amitriptyline (Elavil), nortriptyline (Pamelor)
  • Muscle relaxants. Examples: cyclobenzaprine (Flexeril), carisoprodol (Soma)
  • Topicals. Examples: capsaicin (Zostrix, Zostrix HP), salicylates (Aspercreme, BenGay, Flexall)

Too often people take medications as their only line of defense against pain, says Dr. Borenstein, author of Back in Control! A Conventional and Complementary Prescription for Eliminating Back Pain (M. Evans, 2001). “What medications are supposed to do is make your back less painful so you can do the things you need to do to get better.”

Most people who take medications for back pain don’t need them long term; however, if you take NSAIDs for arthritis, a disease-modifying drug for ankylosing spondylitis or an antidepressant for fibromyalgia, you may need to continue taking it for other aspects of your condition even when the back pain is better.

Physical Therapy
Physical therapy can help strengthen the muscles in your back to help relieve back pain or regain motion. A physical therapist will tailor exercises to your particular condition. Chiropractors and osteopathic physicians use manipulation to ease back pain, although the way they do it varies. Osteopathic manipulation often involves massaging the soft tissues (such as muscles), whereas chiropractic involves manipulating the ligaments and vertebrae of the spine.

Either type of manipulation can be effective for back pain, particularly if pain is caused by problems such as sprains (damage to the ligaments) or strains (damage to the muscles).

If osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis or ankylosing spondylitis weakens your spine, however, your doctor may advise you to stick to osteopathic manipulation, which is generally gentler than chiropractic manipulation.

Yoga & Tai Chi
Yoga’s breathing exercises, postures and meditation practices, when performed daily, have been shown to improve flexibility and balance, regulate heart rate, lower blood pressure and decrease anxiety, which can worsen back pain. For people with osteoporosis, in whom a fall could mean a serious and painful fracture, tai chi has an added benefit – improving balance.

Try Acupuncture
A key component of Chinese traditional medicine, acupuncture involves inserting thin needles at particular points (called acupoints) on the body. Sometimes the needles are connected to a low-level electrical current (electroacupuncture) for a more powerful effect.

According to Chinese theory, stimulating acupoints can correct the flow of essential life energy called qi to optimize health or block pain. Western doctors believe acupuncture more likely works by prompting the body to release pain-relieving substances called endorphins.

Acupuncture has gained credibility in the medical community. A National Institutes of Health panel concluded that acupuncture could help in the treatment of musculoskeletal conditions, such as back pain and even fibromyalgia without the side effects of medications. If you want to try acupuncture, make sure your acupuncturist is certified (the major certifying board for acupuncturists is the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine), is licensed by your state and uses sterile, disposable needles.

About Arthritis Center

This web site is run by an Arthritis Specialist based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. On this site you will find news about the latest in arthritis, information about research results in the field, tips and information and diet and exercise, and much more.



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