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Natural Remedies for Back Pain: Effective Treatments to Try at Home

All sorts of non-mainstream science remedies exist for treating back pain, from dietary supplements to the odd and bizarre, such as strapping dead fish onto your back for days. Most are ineffective.

First and foremost, weight reduction by obese back pain sufferers can be so beneficial that such patients have been known to avoid surgery and return to their usual activities of daily living and work. Significant weight loss, by whatever means, often results in a dramatic decrease in back pain for those sufferers who are grossly overweight.

Vitamins and herbal supplements are rarely of value, but to the extent that they improve nutrition or add to weight reduction, they can be helpful. Over-the-counter medications such as Tyleno™l, Alleve™, and Advil™ can be much more effective than herbal supplements. The use of marijuana typically does not reduce pain per se, but in some patients, it seems to reduce the "burden" of pain, making the pain more tolerable overall.

Exercise is essential for back health. Simply walking 7500 steps daily can help reduce back pain by increasing the strength of back muscles. Stretching activities are vital for maintaining a range of motion, especially in the face of pain, which can limit movement and lead to stiffness. Here is a good site for learning basic back exercises:

Hot and cold compresses can be helpful. As a physician, I have noticed that there is no way to tell which will be more beneficial in advance. About half of my patients tell me that heat to the low back helps reduce pain, but the other half say that only cold compresses work for them. The only way to know is to try both. Almost everyone benefits from one or the other.

In general, long-term use of back braces should be avoided because they can reduce the strength of low back muscles and lead to stiffness and decreased range of motion. Also, braces with shoulder straps are no more effective than low back bracing in preventing back injury. And the latter has questionable benefits. Bracing that reduces the range of motion should be avoided as a long-term solution. Here is a good site for learning basic

Massage of the low back area can reduce pain, mainly when pain is related to spasms of the lumbar muscles. This treatment typically does not produce long-term benefits but can help manage chronic back pain from day to day. Massage does not require the use of a professional. People with significant others, even good friends, can provide pain-reducing low back massages with very little education. The use of massage oils can help since a good message involves physical "rolling" compression of the deep low back muscles. Here is a good site for learning basic techniques:' \

Listening to your back is among the most essential naturopathic techniques. Pain has a protective benefit, which is as true for acute pain as for chronic pain. When performing an exercise or activity that leads to new onset or worsening back pain, it's best to build up a tolerance over time or even to avoid specific activities than to ignore the warning signs of pain blithely. Perhaps the best adage here is "everything in moderation," but avoid activities that cause severe low back pain, particularly if the back pain becomes increasingly intense with ongoing participation.

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