Back pain has a very high prevalence, which is why it is called a 21st century ailment. Its causes and symptoms can be very varied, but it is lumbago, an often non-serious condition located in the lower back, that is the most prevalent. It is estimated that more than 80% of people will eventually suffer from low back pain. Discover the natural solutions that can relieve back pain.

Natural solutions for back pain

Osteopathy, the preferred therapy for back pain

Osteopathy is a therapy that consists of palpating the body to detect tensions or imbalances that cause discomfort and disease. Its use is widely recognized in the relief of back pain.

A study conducted in 20131 compared the effectiveness of osteopathy in the treatment of back pain, compared to a placebo equivalent, on 455 people suffering from chronic low back pain (constant pain that lasts more than 3 months) for 12 weeks. Results showed that osteopathy provided more relief from low back pain than its placebo equivalent, and patients who received osteopathy sessions used less pain medication than patients in the placebo group during the 12-week observation period.

Another study2 tested osteopathy in patients also suffering from chronic low back pain, but of varying intensity. The results were measured using a questionnaire. At the end of 12 weeks, they showed that osteopathy had reduced the pain felt by the patients, and to a greater extent the high intensity pain.

Chiropractic to relieve low back pain

Chiropractic consists of manipulations to the cervical, dorsal and lumbar regions and other parts of the body in order to adjust the vertebrae, clear blockages and restore physiological balance.

A Swedish study carried out in 20121 observed the effectiveness of chiropractic in cases of acute low back pain (pain of short duration, up to 4 weeks) and chronic low back pain. The patients observed, who had not undergone any particular therapy in the 3 months prior to the start of the study, followed 3 months of chiropractic care and completed a questionnaire and pain assessment scale at different points in the study. Overall, whether they had chronic low back pain or acute low back pain, patients recognized an improvement in their pain within the first week of therapy, although those with acute low back pain reported greater relief. These results were confirmed at the end of 3 months, where all patients experienced overall improvement, with acute low back pain being relieved more quickly than chronic low back pain.

Another study conducted in 2014 tested chiropractic care for pregnancy-related back pain2 , in which 115 pregnant women had chiropractic sessions for 3 months and were then followed up for up to one year after the start of the study. Results were estimated using a questionnaire and a pain assessment scale. At the end of one week, the pain of 52% of them had improved, 70% of them at 1 month, 85% at 3 months, 90% at 6 months and 88% at 1 year.

Massage therapy to treat subacute or chronic low back pain

Massage therapy is a therapy using massage, the main objectives of which are to promote relaxation (muscular and nervous), blood and lymphatic circulation, assimilation and digestion of food, elimination of toxins and the proper functioning of vital organs. It therefore has many fields of action, such as reducing anxiety, or reducing the risk of injury to the perineum during childbirth, but it could also help relieve lower back pain.

In a study conducted in 20141 , 30 women suffering from subacute low back pain (pain that generally lasts from 4 weeks to 3 months) or chronic low back pain had sessions of either massage therapy or more conventional therapy. The results showed that massage therapy reduced low back pain more significantly than conventional therapy.

A group of studies2 compared the results of several studies on the effectiveness of massage therapy on low back pain. The results of this research suggest that massage therapy is effective for low back pain when compared to placebo, especially in the short term. However, its effectiveness is controversial when compared to acupuncture or conventional medical management.

Acupuncture effective on back pain in the elderly

Acupuncture is one of the five branches of traditional Chinese medicine. It aims to strengthen the self-regulating and healing processes that malfunction when the body is subjected to aggression. Stimulation of certain acupuncture points - often with needles - is used to treat various problems, including back pain.

A group of 32 studies conducted in 20131 attempted to evaluate the effectiveness of acupuncture on low back pain. In general, acupuncture significantly reduces the pain experienced by patients compared to its placebo equivalent. When compared with drugs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, analgesics) and standard treatment, differences were noticeable but too small to provide clinical evidence of the superiority of acupuncture over conventional treatments.

Acupuncture was also studied more specifically in elderly people in a study conducted in 20142 for its effectiveness on back and knee pain. 32 patients (24 women and 8 men) with an average age of 69 years for women and 73 years for men received 10 acupuncture sessions, with one session every 2 days. The results showed that lower back pain was significantly reduced.

Yoga to relax the back

Yoga, among many other techniques, is part of the mind-body approach. It is a method of personal development and a science of spiritual practice. Body-mind approaches have the advantage of helping patients to better manage their stress, to relax and to have a positive attitude, in order to relieve chronic pain. In addition to contributing to the treatment of asthma, the improvement of cardiovascular health, among others, this discipline would help to relax the back and would therefore have benefits on low back pain.

In a study conducted in 20141, 95 adults aged 20 to 64 years and suffering from low back pain received either 1 or 2 yoga sessions of 75 minutes each per week for 12 weeks. Regardless of the group, the intensity of the pain, age or gender, yoga reduced the participants' low back pain, according to the questionnaire they were asked to fill out.

In another study conducted in 20152 that sought to compare the cost-effectiveness of several therapies, 159 participants with low back pain were divided into 3 groups: 52 in a yoga group, 52 in an exercise group, and 55 in a self-care counselling group. After 6 weeks of observation, yoga was found to be the most cost-effective treatment for low back pain compared to the other two therapies.

Tai-chi to relieve acute low back pain

Tai-chi is a body discipline of Chinese origin which is part of the mind-body approach. This practice aims to improve flexibility, strengthen the musculoskeletal system and maintain good physical, mental and spiritual health. It would thus contribute to reduce lower back pain.

In a study carried out in 20111, 160 people aged 18 to 70 years and suffering from persistent low back pain either participated in Tai-chi sessions (18 sessions of 40 minutes delivered over a period of 10 weeks) or received traditional care. On a 10-point scale, the discomfort caused by low back pain was reduced by 1.7 points in the Tai-chi group, pain was reduced by 1.3 points, and the feeling of disability was reduced by 2.6 points on a scale of 0 to 24.

In another study carried out in 20142 , the effects of Tai-chi were evaluated on 40 men between 20 and 30 years old suffering from acute low back pain. Half of them followed Tai-chi sessions while the other half followed stretching sessions, 3 sessions of 1 hour per week for 4 weeks. Pain was assessed using the Visual Analog Scale, a scale from 0 to 10 that allows the patient to self-assess the intensity of the pain he or she is experiencing. Participants in the Tai Chi group had their Visual Analog Scale increased from 3.1 to 2.1, while in the stretching group, the Visual Analog Scale increased on average from 3.4 to 2.8.

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