Consider psychological therapy
According to Dennis Turk, Ph.D., a professor of anesthesiology and pain research at the University of Washington in Seattle, patients with chronic pain sometimes fail to recognize the value of psychological treatments because they’ve been set up to expect a cure.
“Even the latest and greatest treatments don’t cure people with chronic pain,” he said. “Psychological interventions are not cures, but they do reduce pain and improve function and they are important components in the treatment of people with chronic pain.”
Turk added that psychological interventions are also cost-effective when compared to other treatments for chronic low back pain — a key finding, considering that estimates for treatment-related costs range from $20 billion to $80 billion a year in the United States.
“Surgery, opioids, nerve blocks, spinal cord stimulators, implantable drug delivery systems — every one of those particular alternatives is much more expensive and has poorer or at best equal outcomes compared to rehabilitation programs that include psychological components,” said Turk. “The paradox is that, despite data on the effectiveness of psychological interventions, insurers are less willing to pay for them.”
The bottom line is, back pain is a symptom of something going awry in the body, and the cause and cure could be as many as a dozen different things. Before considering expensive surgery and drugs that will likely mask the problem and just cover it up, think about the following alternatives:
- Much back pain is caused by repetitive motions or being sedentary in one place for an extended period of time - such as sitting at a desk all day long. Make sure you get up and walk around once an hour for a few minutes. Take a break or part of your lunch break each day and go for a brisk walk outside. Atrophy of muscles, tendons, and joints occurs with there are long periods of sedation. Proper blood flow to affected areas is also impeded due to inactivity. This causes stiffness, weakness, loss of circulation, and eventually inflammation.
- Perform stretching and back exercises daily.
- Eat a healthy diet. Eliminate refined sugars and processed foods (including breads, boxed cereals, pastas, crackers, bagels, pretzels, etc., all of which are enriched and extruded).
- Drink plenty of filtered water. Eat organic vegetables, fruits, raw nuts, raw cheeses, grass-fed meats, and safe source fish.
- Get plenty of rest.
- If you have too many things to do each day, reprioritize your schedule and let things go that are pushing you over your limit of time, energy, and available sanity with which to deal.
- Obtain moderate exercise several times per week, such as brisk walking, hiking, bicycling, or some organized activity such as yoga, pilates, or martial arts.
- If back pain persists, consider a natural approach such as acupuncture, body work, massage, or chiropractic care. These treatments work with your body and help to move it in the direction of healing rather than concealing the problem at hand, and actually boost your body's ability to deal with the handicap and heal itself more effectively.
- Don't jump into the drugs and surgery option until you have tried all of these remedies together for an extended period of time. Many doctors are quick to recommend surgery or drugs which may not solve the problem.