10 Natural Ways to Ease Back Pain

Health Writer
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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost 12 million adults in the United States live with frequent and severe low back pain each year. Many turn to pain medications to feel better. However, there are many natural remedies for pain relief. Read ahead to learn more.


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Capsaicin cream

Capsaicin is the substance in chili peppers that gives them their red-hot burn when consumed. Capsaicin can also be added to a cream and used topically for various pain conditions. While the exact mechanism of how capsaicin works to treat pain is still being studied, it is believed to relieve pain in several different ways. Low-concentration capsaicin creams, lotions, and patches have been used successfully for several decades. A new higher-concentration patch is showing even more promise.


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Willow bark

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 toxic if taken in large quantities, but in small quantities it can be used as an anti-inflammatory agent. Salicylic acid comes in many different forms, but always consult with your doctor before using.


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Vitamin B12

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

Acupuncture is one component of the practice of Chinese medicine and has been used successfully for thousands of years. Acupuncture usually involves inserting very thin needles at various places in your body by an experienced practitioner. Research involving nearly 18,000 participants supports acupuncture’s role in pain relief from common forms of pain. Many insurance plans now cover acupuncture. Asking your insurance provider about an approved practitioner in your area may be a good first step.


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Chiropractic

Chiropractors use spinal manipulation to restore joint mobility and relieve pain. As one of the alternatives to pain-relieving drugs, the American College of Physicians low back pain guideline recommends spinal manipulation along with heat, massage, and acupuncture to treat low back pain.


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Yoga

Like acupuncture, yoga has also been practiced for thousands of years. While the research is relatively sparse on the impact of yoga on lower back pain, some small studies show promise. Because yoga can involve movements that you may not have done before, it is important to talk to your doctor before you begin and to learn from a certified yoga instructor.


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Balneotherapy

Balneotherapy involves treating health problems by bathing, usually in natural mineral water or a hot spring. A review of clinical trials utilizing balneotherapy showed a remarkable rate of success for low back pain. However, balneotherapy may not be for everyone. If you have heart disease or are pregnant, you should only use balneotherapy under the supervision of a physician.


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Swimming

Swimming, also referred to as aquatic exercise, is an effective activity for reducing pain in a number of disorders. There is also evidence to suggest that getting in the water and moving around can relieve low back pain. In a review of eight trials, the results showed a relief of back pain after aquatic exercise. Physical function was also significantly improved in the research participants.


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Physical therapy

According to recent research, physical therapy should be the first stop to treat low back pain. Compared to patients who saw a physical therapist later or never, those with back pain who saw a physical therapist first had a lower probability of having an opioid prescription, advanced imaging services, and emergency department visits. All 50 states and the District of Columbia allow you to contact a physical therapist without a physician’s referral.


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Heat and ice

Heat therapy (thermotherapy), and cold therapy (cryotherapy) are two of the simplest forms of natural treatment for sore muscles and joints. Heat treatment promotes blood flow and can help muscles relax. Cold therapy can reduce inflammation by decreasing blood flow. Sometimes alternating heat and cold therapy may be helpful. Which temperature provides the most relief can be very individual. It can also depend on the time that has elapsed since the pain began and the root cause of the back pain.