Back pain is a common issue that millions of people suffer from. It can range from mild discomfort to severe, debilitating pain, leading some to look for “miracle cures” to rid them of their symptoms. These treatments may include herbal supplements, posture support devices, ancient wellness practices, special diets, new surgical techniques and other forms of alternative medicine that have not been extensively evaluated by medical experts.
In certain cases, these “cures” may actually do more harm than good. Therefore, you should be cautious about trying out any treatment that has not been rigorously tested or recommended by your doctor.
In this blog post, we’ll explore a few common questions about miracle cures for back pain, such as:
What are “miracle cures” and do they work?
What are some common treatments for back pain?
What alternative back pain treatments should I avoid?
It’s important to know that experiencing back pain can be due to numerous causes, from age-related issues to herniated discs to poor sleeping. Taking unproven treatments could lead to further complications if the back pain has an underlying cause that is not addressed. When searching for a solution to back discomfort, you should avoid trying out “miracle cures” that guarantee quick relief and instead seek out the advice of a medical professional.
WHAT ARE “MIRACLE CURES” AND DO THEY WORK?
A miracle cure is anything that promises to cure or heal a health condition without proper medical research or evidence to back up the claim. This could be a cure-all balm, herbal remedy, exotic holistic techniques or even a mental hack. The term can also be used to describe procedures like newly developed laser spine surgery techniques or ancient wellness practices that have not undergone rigorous research and testing.
More than 50 million adults in the U.S. live with chronic pain, according to
the National Institutes of Health, and there are a multitude of scenarios that can trigger back pain. Unlike those promoting unfounded miracle cures, a doctor will likely conduct testing to identify the root cause of your pain and make appropriate recommendations or develop a treatment plan from there. Some of the health factors that can cause back pain include:
Lack of exercise
Ruptured or bulging discs
Muscle or ligament strain
Improper lifting of objects
Poor sleeping positions
People dealing with moderate to severe back and neck pain may be susceptible to the unverified guarantees of miracle cures in a desperate attempt to find relief.
It’s easy to imagine how waking up to ongoing pain can provoke you to want to find a quick and easy solution. However, it’s important to use caution so that you don’t inadvertently suffer serious side effects or experience other unfavorable outcomes. For example, someone suffering from sciatica may have a fracture or tumor as the underlying cause. Trying out a risky treatment without consultation and recommendation from a doctor could potentially exacerbate these conditions and trigger more health problems.
WHAT ARE SOME COMMON TREATMENTS FOR BACK PAIN?
There are numerous potential pain generators in the spine, such as bones, discs, nerves, muscles and arthritis inflammation. As such, there are various ways to treat back pain depending on the severity and cause. Common treatments for mild back pain include over-the-counter medicine, exercise and hot/cold applications.
For chronic pain, surgery may be necessary, but it’s not the only option. It’s estimated that around 500,000 lumbar spine surgeries occur each year in the United States yet more than 90% of back pain is successfully treated without surgery. The best place to start is a consultation with your doctor to identify the source of your pain and come up with an appropriate treatment plan.
Based on your condition, you may not need surgery and could potentially find relief through prescription medicine, lifestyle changes or another non-invasive method. In mild cases, there are quite a few options available as well.
COMMON TREATMENTS FOR MILD BACK PAIN
Hot/Cold Treatments: Treatments like heating pads, ice packs and heating/cooling balms can be a good combination for back pain relief. You can also try taking a warm shower to relax your muscles and reduce pain. Soaking in an ice bath to alleviate inflammation and increase your range of motion is another option.
Exercise: Regular exercise can improve mild back pain. It’s important to consult your doctor, because depending on the cause and intensity of your pain, some exercises may not be recommended. Still, there are several exercises for back pain that can strengthen leg, abdominal, stomach, and leg muscles. And since these muscles support your spine, these movements can help relieve back pain.
Over-the-Counter Medicine: In some mild cases, back pain can be treated with common over-the-counter pain relief medicine such as ibuprofen, Aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).mThere are many NSAIDs sold in drug stores and though their strength varies, most can offer relief for brief periods and episodes of back pain.
Chiropractic Adjustment: Research shows that spinal manipulation can help relieve pain and improve function in people with acute low-back pain, which is one of the most common types of back pain. A common treatment that many chiropractors use is spinal manipulation or chiropractic adjustment. This hands-on treatment involves massaging and applying pressure to the spine and joints.
Sleep Improvement: Improving your sleep positions, purchasing a quality mattress or using weighted neck pillows can be beneficial for people suffering from chronic pain in the neck and back. These adjustments can be a great compliment to medical treatments. For example, weighted neck pillows provide pressure to the body's natural pressure points located around the head, shoulders and upper back. This helps relieve tension in the muscles and can allow for better sleep.
Massages: Massaging the muscles in the back can increase blood flow, improve circulation and reduce tension. There are numerous massage styles and techniques. And while it’s best to consult your doctor for recommendations, it’s generally okay to try out different techniques until you find the one that works best for your mild back pain.
WHEN IS SPINE SURGERY THE BEST OPTION?
In complex cases and for certain conditions, surgery is the most appropriate and effective treatment for back pain. There are a lot of misconceptions that back surgery is always a major procedure with an extended hospital stay and a long recovery period. In reality, many patients can be treated with minimally invasive surgery and only the most complex cases require open surgery.
Atlantic Brain and Spine is committed to helping patients find relief and return to normal life. Our center provides some of the safest and most accurate procedures, such as endoscopic spine surgery and minimally invasive spine surgery (MISS).
Endoscopic spine surgery is a minimally invasive procedure that uses micro-incisions along with specialized visualization and surgical tools to treat a wide variety of spinal conditions. This cutting-edge technique is used at the affected portion of the spine with minimal muscle and tissue disruption. Additionally, minimally invasive spine surgery offers benefits like minimal scarring, less postoperative pain, less need for narcotics and shorter hospital stays.
WHAT ALTERNATIVE BACK PAIN TREATMENTS SHOULD I AVOID?
When it comes to alternative treatments, you should proceed with caution, as there are several that may promise hyperbolic results. As a general rule of thumb, look out for any procedure or medicine that is promoted as a “miracle cure” yet has limited scientific research and testing to validate such claims.
People often turn to these sorts of treatments in hopes of finding quick, easy or non-surgical relief from their back pain. However, some alternative treatments can be more harmful than helpful when it comes to back pain. It is important to do your research beforehand, consult with your doctor and only consider treatments that have been proven effective in treating chronic back pain.
Let’s take a look at what you should avoid when searching for back pain treatments.
Here are a few examples of alternative treatments for chronic back pain that should be approached with caution:
Acupuncture: While acupuncture has been shown to provide relief from chronic pain, it should not be used as a “miracle cure” for back pain. Instead, it should be seen as a possible complementary treatment alongside other therapies that have been recommended by your doctor. It’s also important to verify that the provider offering acupuncture is a licensed specialist. For instance, a 2019 review published in the Acupuncture in Medicine journal analyzed 14 trials of over 2,100 patients with acute or chronic lower back pain. It found that those who used acupuncture had significant reductions in discomfort immediately after treatment. Yet those who used “sham acupuncture” (where needles that look similar to real acupuncture needles are used but not inserted into the skin) did not have favorable or notable results.
New Surgical Techniques: Surgery is often seen as an extreme measure and should only be considered after all other treatments have been ruled out by your doctor as being ineffective or unsafe. New techniques like laser spine surgery that promise amazing results should be thoroughly considered with information on the potential complications. Though lasers can cut disc tissue, they can be more difficult to control and the risk of damaging the nerve root with a laser is higher compared to electrocautery or micro-instruments. Always consult with a trusted medical professional before making any decisions about surgery for back pain relief.
Herbal Supplements: Herbal supplements may seem like a harmless alternative to traditional medicines, but they can have serious side effects if taken without consulting your doctor first. Some may contain ingredients that can interact with medications or cause allergic reactions, so it’s important to be aware of the potential risks before taking any supplement for back pain relief.
Other alternative, “miracle cure” treatments may include cupping, dry needling, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), special diets, weight loss pills or spinal manipulation treatments that promise remarkable results with limited scientific research to substantiate their effectiveness.
Overall, back pain is no joke and no matter how determined you are to relieve the discomfort, it’s important to remember that some treatments may do more harm than good if used without the advice of a medical professional. Before trying any new treatment option for back pain relief, make sure to talk with your doctor or physical therapist about the pros and cons so that you can make an informed decision about what will work best for your condition.
Chronic back pain can be debilitating and have a serious impact on your quality of life, so it is understandable to want to improve your condition as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, there are many treatments that promise results that can not be guaranteed.
The key to treating back pain successfully is to identify the underlying cause and then undertake appropriate treatment, which could range from physiotherapy and exercise therapy to medications and lifestyle modifications. In more severe cases, back surgery may be necessary, but there are multiple minimally invasive techniques available today.
Back pain sufferers may be able to look toward alternative treatments – like herbal supplements or acupuncture – when traditional measures have been ruled out. But most of all, a non-traditional approach should only be considered with the recommendation of a trusted medical professional.
To learn more about the scientifically-proven back pain treatments offered at Atlantic Brain and Spain, or to see if you might be a surgical candidate, contact our office to set up an initial consultation.