Alternative Medicine for Back Pain

Alternative medicine encompasses a wide variety of technologies, movement and exercise systems, and nutritional supplementations that are designed to improve health. In the past, alternative health options were very different from those offered through the switchboard of our primary care physicians. In the past, patients who had gone to their doctor for back pain were first given some combination of conservative options including icing, heat therapy, anti-inflammatory medications, and physical therapy. Those that would have taken the approach of alternative options would have tried nutritional options such as herbal and vitamin supplementation, hands on treatments such as Yoga and Acupuncture, or spiritual-type treatments such as meditation. Alternative experts and medical type professionals were at odds for a long time on this. Alternative healthcare practitioners pointed out the toxicity of the pharmaceuticals the doctors put in patient's bodies. Western doctors pointed out the non-existent clinical evidence that the Eastern-type even worked.

Today, the sciences of western and alternative medicine have come closer to getting on the same page, and new information continues to come out that both healthcare sciences offer numerous benefits. Today, doctors continue to become more likely to recommend that patients take nutritional supplements, including glucosamine with chondroitin, omega-3 fish oils, and herbal treatments such as cramp bark, black cohosh, lobelia, and kava kava. Alternative therapists, in their newfound role of being supported by doctors, have begun to incorporate their treatments into western medicine programs as complementary treatments. Today, a patient's comprehensive back treatment program may include anti-inflammatories, glucosamine and fish oil supplementation, physical therapy, acupuncture, and massage. Doctors and alternative therapists are more frequently on board to work together to solve the complicated medical problem of chronic back pain.

Alternative medicine for back pain may be an option for patients with back disorders such as spinal stenosis with radiculopathy, arthritis of the synovial joints of the spine, facet arthropathy, and lumbar pain related to stress. Here are some of the types of treatments that may be available in your area.



Chinese Medicine: Not all varieties of alternative medicine are based on the treatments from Asian cultures. Some alternative systems are derived from natural medicinal treatments that have been used around the world for millennia. Some alternative systems are based on the use of new technologies that have only recently become available - via the world of modern science. But many alternative treatments are based on Chinese Medicine and far eastern treatments. Many of these Asian health systems, including Acupuncture (China) and Ayurveda (Asia) incorporate physical treatments on the body, exercises, and spiritual factors in their treatments of patients. In Western medicine, doctors and therapists zero in on the part of the patient's body that is in pain and devise treatments accordingly. In ancient Asian medicine approaches, the experts consider the whole physical body and spirit of the patient when trying to determine why the patient exhibits symptoms of disease.

For example, in acupuncture theory, the idea behind patient disease is that patients experience the effects of disease when their whole energy system is thrown out of balance. This energy system is known as our qi, and its parts are composed of individual energy channels known as Meridians. When the energy flow through these Meridians is continuous and pure, we experience physical and emotional health. When this energy flow becomes disrupted or blocked, we may experience the symptoms of disease. Various factors in our lives may disrupt the flow of this vital energy, including a poor diet, bad posture, toxins in our environment, depression, etc. we may unblock the flow of energy through various type of spiritual methods, (e.g. meditation, yoga) or by physical treatments that involve the stimulation of specific points in these energy channels. These specific points in these energy channels are known as Meridians. Luckily, These Meridians are located close enough to the body surface that they may be manipulated through the use of touch (acupressure), needle puncture (acupuncture), electrical stimulation, and the placement of herbs.

Homeopathy: Another type of alternative medicine that helps many people is homeopathy. Homeopathy is the belief that certain chemicals and substances that make healthy people sick will cure people that are unhealthy. This seems like an insane science since the physical and chemical makeup of all human bodies are so similar. Yet there is some evidence that certain chemicals and substances affect people in different ways. For example, we do know that while Ritalin makes "normal people" hyper, it has the effect of making people with Attention deficit disorder more able to focus and pay attention.