Seeing a chiropractor, acupuncturist, or massage therapist for back pain has
become increasingly popular. For certain individuals, these methods may be
beneficial, especially if you have a strong belief that one of them will work.
Each of us responds to pain (and the various methods available to relieve
it) differently. Here is a brief overview of what the science is saying about
specific pain control methods.
- Spinal manipulation by either a chiropractor or an osteopathic doctor
may be helpful if you have had low back pain for at least 2 - 3 weeks. Manipulation
is a manual technique that moves a joint beyond the end point of its normal
range of motion. Spinal manipulation refers to manipulation of the vertebrae
- Acupuncture, a technique that involves inserting extremely thin
needles into "energy" points in the body, has become very popular for pain
control. There are only a few small studies that have looked at the value
of acupuncture for back pain specifically. At this point, it is hard to draw
conclusions from the research. Some individuals may benefit by using acupuncture
to relieve back pain. In particular, it may be worth trying if you cannot
take medications (for example, if you cannot take NSAIDs).
- Massage therapy, especially when combined with regular exercise,
can help relieve both acute and chronic low back pain. Talk to your doctor
about when it is safe to try. Look for a licensed, certified massage therapist
in your area. Also, most physical therapists do limited, local massage around
the area of your pain.
There are conditions for which surgery may be considered. These include:
- Herniated disk
- Narrowing of the spine (spinal stenosis)
- Degenerative or failing disks that are painful
- Arthritis of the spine
- Instability of the spine
Review Date: 4/6/2007
Reviewed By: Benjamin D. Roye, M.D., M.P.H., Orthopaedic Surgery, The Mount Sinai Hospital, New York, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.
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