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Beth Fowler

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Back Pain Relief the Natural Way
by Beth Fowler   

Last edited: Friday, August 02, 2002
Posted: Monday, November 05, 2001

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By the time we are twenty-one years old, four out of five of us have suffered back pain. Millions of dollars are wasted on pharmaceutical and surgical procedures that have low success rates. Drugs and knives don't always work because from 60% to 90% of disease isn't the result of structural injury, but rather, the mind-body response to stress. Stress is any external stimulus—an old forgotten injury (physical or emotional), sitting in an office chair, too much caffeine. Find out how to relieve back pain naturally.

"Chronic back pain is not 'all in the mind,'" says Dr. Andrew Weil. "A lot of pain in the back is in the form of real, physical distortion of muscle anatomy and physiology." The respected master teacher of self-healing goes on to explain that the cause of the pain isn't in the back; it's in the nervous system connecting the mind and emotions…the realm in which natural healing methods excel.

Relief from backaches might be a matter of changing one's posture. Bad posture and unnatural movement habits over time can bring about back pain. The way we sit in chairs, stand in lines, bend to tie our shoelaces, reach for phones, chop carrots, drink tea, walk from here to there and sleep can strain muscles and put undue pressure on nerves and joints.

Effectively reducing or eliminating pain depends on its root cause, finding the right treatment for the cause, the health practitioner's competence, the client's state of mind, and practitioner/client compatibility. Relief also depends on the client's willingness to change habits built up over decades and willingness, in some cases, to attend numerous therapy sessions over a period of time. Sometimes beneficial change is dramatic, sometimes gradual. Major life changes—even falling in love—can make chronic back pain disappear.

If being swept off your feet isn't in the stars, then investigate these treatments proven to alleviate back pain.

Acupressure¸ a form of Traditional Chinese Medicine, is a non-invasive application of pressure to "zones" using fingers, rollers, balls, bars and needle-beds (without puncturing the skin). Acupressure encourages the body's innate ability for self-regeneration. Clients learn to self-administer acupressure to relieve muscular pain and relax tense muscles, a leading cause of backaches.

Acupuncture, a Chinese medical technique at least 4000 years old, aims to correct imbalances of energy (physical, emotional and spiritual) by inserting fine needles into the skin and flesh at specific points along one's energy channels. Warming the needles with smoldering herbs (moxibustion) or stimulating them with weak electrical currents is also done. Acupuncture helps musculo-skeletal disorders, lower back pain, and osteoarthritis among other complaints.

Alexander Technique, originated by Frederick Alexander of Tasmania, is a process for releasing unnecessary tension in the body and directing it to useful energy. The importance of the proper relationship of the head, neck and back is taught in order to achieve muscular harmony. Students learn how to rest their backs, how to care for their backs and neck, and ways to increase body awareness as well as ways to move with natural ease. Habits of body use that cause backaches can be undone.

Ayurveda, with roots in India, means "science of life." By placing pressure on different parts of the body with their feet and sometimes their hands, Ayurvedic therapists stimulate or subdue the body's organs whose imbalance lead to disease. Ayurveda practitioners treat the whole person and often give advice about diet, exercise and other lifestyle changes, bringing about relief from pain caused by nerve, muscle and joint disorders, among other body systems.

Biofeedback is the treatment system based on monitoring and evaluating the body's biological signals with an electronic instrument that displays the body's activity. An awareness of otherwise invisible physiological activities in the body allows the client to change habits that contribute to chronic stress. Changing the habits can, in turn, relieve back pain, especially in the neck and shoulders.

Chiropractic is based on the premise that the nervous system coordinates all the body's functions. A misaligned spine puts abnormal pressure on nerves, lowering the body's resistance to pain. Therefore, chiropractors manipulate the spine (a major nerve pathway) with their hands to realign the vertebrae. Chiropractors normally take x-rays before commencing with treatment. Chiropractic treatment can release muscle spasms in the back and neck.

Cranial Osteopathy (or Craniosacral Osteopathy) tends to the client's cranial rhythm that is an involuntary, cyclical expansion and contractions of all the body's tissues. This rhythm is separate from other body rhythms such as pulse and breath rate. Cranial osteopaths can detect the cranial rhythm, evaluate it and provide treatment based on the evaluation. Practitioners using this method can help with many health conditions including back and neck aches.

Reiki is Japanese for "universal life force." Healers facilitate the flow of energy or life force from the universe, through themselves and to and within the client. The practitioner does not regulate the energy flow: the higher intelligence of the universe does the regulating. The practitioner creates the space and conditions allowing the energy to flow. After proper training, individuals can treat themselves using Reiki. Reiki can heal many health problems, back pain being one of them.

Rolfing, named after Dr. Ida P. Rolf, is a method of manipulating the client's myofascial (myo means muscle, fascia means bundle) system to achieve improvements in posture and structure. In other words, the body is reorganized and habitual movements (hunched shoulders, jutted chin, swayed back) are changed. Clients achieve relief from pain, including lower back pain and chronic stress.

Other natural methods include Bowen therapy, breathing exercises, Feldenkrais Method, a firm mattress, guided imagery, kinesiology, magnets, maintaining proper body weight, naturopathy, orthopedic cushions on chairs and car seats, Pilates exercises, physiotherapy, qigong, shiatsu, tai chi, Trager Approach, yoga and, of course, proper nutrition and exercise.

Good posture is essential for back health. Check in libraries, bookstores, on the Internet and with health practitioners for information, diagrams and exercises on balancing the body's weight in relation to its own center of gravity.

Before deciding on a particular treatment and practitioner, ask to see the practitioner's certification and credentials. Don't be afraid to ask for references. A consultation session before opting for one type of treatment over another is your right.

The common goal among the myriad methods for getting rid of back pain is stimulating the body's natural processes toward wholeness, toward healing.

Web Site: Natural Health Society (Australia)

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Reviewed by fionnagh oaks (Reader)
interesting and informative read but paragraghs could be easier read if they were seperated by a blank line.
Reviewed by Paul Breau (Reader)
Excellent Article Beth! Very useful and easy to assimilate.
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