7 Natural Ways to Ease Back Pain
HealthCentral Editorial Team Sep 28, 2012 (updated Sep 27, 2013)
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Capsaicin is the substance in chili peppers that gives them their red-hot "burn" when you eat them. Researchers have found that when this substance is used in a cream and smoothed onto the skin, it reduces the levels of a neurochemical compound that transmits pain signals. In a recent study, pain sufferers who were given capsaicin cream experienced more pain relief than those who were given a placebo.
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The bark of the white willow tree (Salix alba) contains a substance called salicin, which the body can convert to salicylic acid. This is the same compound that aspirin becomes once it's been metabolized by the body. Salicylic acid is believed to be the active compound in aspirin that relieves pain and inflammation, making white willow tree bark a possible natural alternative to the painkiller.
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There is some evidence that vitamin B12 may help relieve back pain. In a recent study, Italian researchers gave either vitamin B12 or a placebo to people who suffered from lower back pain. They found that the vitamin B12 users experienced a statistically significant reduction in their level of pain and disability. They were also less likely to use painkillers than those given the placebo.
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Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicine practice designed to unlock energy pathways that are causing pain. British researchers found that pain sufferers who received acupuncture reported less pain and less worry about their pain compared to people receiving standard care. After two years, the acupuncture group was significantly more likely to report being pain-free and less likely to use painkillers.
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Chiropractors use spinal manipulation to restore joint mobility and relieve pain. To do this, these doctors of chiropractics manually apply a controlled force to joints that have become damaged or constrained by muscle injury, inflammation, and pain. These "adjustments" have been found in many studies to relieve pain and muscle tightness and encourage healing.
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Yoga is the practice of physical postures or poses that are designed to have specific effects on the mind, body, and spirit. A study of people with chronic mild low back pain compared patients who did Iyengar yoga to those who received only back education. After 16 weeks, investigators found that there was a significant reduction in pain, disability, and use of pain medication in the people who did yoga.
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Balneotherapy is one of the oldest forms of pain relief. This type of therapy involves bathing or soaking in warm water or mineral water to relieve pain. A recent study looked at balneotherapy's effectiveness for low back pain and found promising benefits. But balneotherapy may not be for everyone. People with heart disease should not use it unless they are under the supervision of a physician.