Natural Treatments For Low Back Pain
If you are reading this post, it’s probably because you have been suffering from uncomfortable low back pain for some time and now are looking desperately for a different, alternative natural treatment that potentially could alleviate your daily torment.
Maybe you have arrived to the right place!? These methods you are about to read have worked for me and for lot more people, I hope it does for you too.
First of all, don’t worry, you are not unique neither alone with this. Low back pain (LBP) is the second most common cause of disability for adults in the US,1 and the leading cause of activity limitation and work absence throughout much of the world. LBP imposes a high economic burden on individuals, families, communities, industry, and governments, but there are solutions and you can recover!
At present, low back pain is treated mainly with analgesics, NSAIDs or opioids, and the true causes of lower back pain are rarely addressed. Taking analgesics can be a slippery slope, and if not taken correctly one can very easily become too reliant on these drugs and may even develop a whole host of other problems affecting digestion, hormones and the inability to stop using them. Disc surgery remains a popular last option when all other strategies have failed, but the outcomes are not always the expected ones.
Since low back pain has become a new epidemic in our societies, and for those of us, whose experience with allopathic medicine treatment has not been successful, expanding our beliefs about effective healthcare can be a good way to give more holistic ways of treating our pain a chance.
Here you have a list of my favorite therapies, which in combination, could offer a good solution where others have failed.
1. Thai Massage
Thai Traditional Massage is a great solution for any physical problem that involves joints, muscles, tendons, nerve system etc. and I’m going to explain the way Thai Traditional Massage understands the body, so you will see why it is so effective at resolving injuries and chronic pain.
Imagine a spine with all its vertebras freely moving in harmony, adapting the body to its normal activities, and then one day, at one level of the spine, usually in the low back, you experience pain. How did this pain come about? The immediate thought is that where you have the pain, is where you have the problem. However, the pain in your low back or the pain in some joint may not, in fact, be the source of the problem but rather is the result of what your body has been doing to compensation for an old blockage for a long time. Bad habits like sitting for long hours at your computer, sleeping on a bad mattress, or not getting enough exercise or even eating unhealthy, start to take a toll on the body. These bad habits create problem areas, and if these problems don’t get corrected, the body is going to protect itself by immobilizing the area, creating a blockage. This blockage may not be painful but can be the start of a chain reaction to make other parts of the spine, hips, or knees move more than they should in order to compensate that blockage or lack of movement. If these blockages are not addressed at some point, someday when you least expect it, your body can no longer sustain the compensations it has put in place and suddenly your back goes out.
The area of the breakdown produces a lot of pain and suffering, but it is not the origin of the problem! If the therapist just focuses on the area of the breakdown, in this case, your low back, (which is the normal way to proceed), you will probably only experience temporary relief and with time the problem may get much bigger, go much deeper and become more chronic. So the best way to fix this is to start by finding the original blockage and resolve it. Thai massage is very good at finding blockages because a skilled Thai massage therapist reads and treats the whole body, massaging all muscular chains, finding all muscular blockages so that your body can naturally come back into alignment.
Because of the tourist attraction from Thailand, people normally have the wrong ideas about Thai massage. But real Thai massage is a healing art with more than a thousand years of tradition. In the country of the eternal smile, it is used to treat not only muscle and joint problems like back pain, tendinitis, scoliosis, etc. but also nerve system problems like paralysis, Parkinson, insomnia, and even digestive problems. Thai people consider this ancient therapy as a universal remedy for almost everything and most Thai’s regard massage, herbal medicine, and traditional medicine as an integrated part of keeping healthy.
In my professional experience, I have had thousands of patients with different levels of back pain and the majority of them have felt relief and liberation from their problems.
Normal timing to recover:
- Acute pains: From 3 to 5 sessions.
- Chronic pains: From 10 to 30 sessions, depending on the situation and the origin of the pain.
- Severe chronic pains: Severe cases need to be combined with other treatments like nutritional changes, acupuncture, Mora therapy, strengthening and stretching exercises like yoga, pilates or calisthenics. Time to recover can be from 6 months to a year.
MThai Portland offers 60 minute and 90 minute treatments that is customizable to address your body’s specific imbalances and truly treat your low back problems.
2.- Chi Nei Tsang
Chi Nei Tsang is a wonderful and super effective technique even though it is pretty unknown in western society. Chi Nei Tsang is an ancient Chinese massage based on the theory that the origin of all problems in the body is rooted in the gut. Disharmonies and emotional problems are stored in the guts but can be released through deep belly massage. Chi Nei Tsang is a massage I have been practicing since 2012 with amazing results, especially when combining with other treatments and even more with dietary changes that reduce sugar, dairy and gluten intake.
It is so surprising to see how much back pain can be reduced with just belly massage! Very often Chi Nei Tsang works better than any other technique especially for patients with high stress and emotional fatigue because this tension tends to be held in our abdomens. I highly recommend giving it try!
I haven’t experience Chi Nei Tsang therapy in the US, but there is a famous school in California https://www.chineitsang.com , and you can find a few therapist that practice it in Portland area.
3.- Chinese Medicine:
Acupuncture is another wonderful treatment used for a wide range of conditions.
For LBP, acupuncture may have very good results, and again especially when it is applied in combination with other treatments like massage, Mora therapy, nutrition changes, etc. From my experience, acupuncture accelerates recovery time and improves the effectiveness of other treatments. Acupuncture is also extremely effective and opening up and removing blockages in the body, particularly long time chronic injury and pain.
Acupuncture works by bringing energy balance to your body, promoting blood circulation, tissue regeneration, and pain relief. No matter if you believe in it or not, if you find a good acupuncturist you will feel the benefits after the first treatment, and you will fall in love with this medicine. People who dismiss this thousand-year-old medicine just haven’t found the right acupuncturist, but when you do, they will change your life.
We are fortunate in the Portland area because there are a ton of outstanding acupuncture options for all economic levels, health concerns, and styles to choose from. Don’t let economic hardship prevent you from getting treated!! There are affordable options!
NUNM school clinic – http://nunmhealthcenters.com/acupuncture-chinese-medicine/
OCOM school clinic –
Working Class Acupuncture –
Working Class Acupuncture is a great option and has very affordable prices. They only focus on acupuncture points from elbow to hands and from knee to feet, which is very comfortable for patients who don’t have a lot of time and need to be treated frequently.
3.2. Chinese Herbs
Chinese medicine theory says a problem in an internal organ can produce pain and stiffness in a muscle or in a joint. So many chronic pains originate or are rooted in an internal organ disbalance, and a great way to deal with this is through Chinese herbs. A good herbalist it will accelerate our recovering by addressing our internal disharmonies that have developed from our not so healthy western diets. If you have access to a very good Chinese herbalist, she or he could ease your back problems mainly with herbal treatment. Herbs can either be ingested via pills, powders, decoctions or tinctures depending on your preference. In addition, herbs can also be applied topically and there are so many good topical oils, liniments and muscle patches made with Chinese herbs that are very good at relieving, calming and reducing pain symptoms.
Here is a list of herbal resources in the Portland area:
- OCOM Herbal Medicinary and Herbal Clinic are known for having the largest herbal apothecary on the west coast.
- Wing Ming Herbs- https://wingmingherbs.com/ is another great not too expensive place where you can find good herbalists, the only issue I’ve had is the occasional difficulties with a language barrier, the herbalists are great professionals, but their English is not the best.
- The Vital Compass http://www.thevitalcompass.com/ is another great place with very knowledgeable and professional staff.
Why do we eat food? Because our bodies must get nourishment in order for our cells function correctly! Having a healthy diet is important for everybody, our daily food can be our best medicine or our worst poison. There are many foods that produce inflammation in the body and aggravate pain, like sugar, white flours, saturated fats, dairy products… and there are others that can naturally reduce inflammation, like Curcuma, ginger, blueberries, whole grains…etc. Diet and nutrition is a very hot topic! But regardless, everybody should consider what they eat, but especially people with chronic pain.
An intoxicated and inflamed gut is a continuous source of inflammation and it is unrealistic not to address dietary habits in treating pain in the body like arthritis, arthrosis and even low back pain! A good diet alone may not solve the problem, but without a good diet that includes anti-inflammatory foods, it will be more difficult to heal chronic pain. Every person is unique, and if your healthcare provider is not addressing your nutritional needs, he or she is doing you a disservice.
5.- MORA Therapy
What is Mora therapy?? Mora therapy is a bioresonance treatment and was first developed in the 70’s by two German doctors. What is bioresonance?? Bioresonance is a “non-invasive therapy which involves placing electrodes on your skin for diagnosis and treatment. The electrodes are connected to a Bicom machine which checks the energy wavelengths coming from your body, and then counteracts bad frequencies by restoring the optimum balance”. Since then, ‘MORA’, which is the combined names of the two German doctors, has continued to evolve and is on the forefront of medicine in Europe and China. Bioresonance Mora is based on the principles of Chinese medicine in which the Bitcom machine can identify where deficiencies are located in a patient’s body, either in organ systems or meridian channels, and initiate healing processes by specifically targeting those areas by changing our cellular frequencies. This is holistic medicine and technology combined and the future of medicine!
I have had personal experience with Mora Therapy in Spain, having the great fortune to receive many sessions of treatment over the course of a few months, but immediately after just a handful of sessions realized great relief and was out hiking in the mountains. I have had three years of debilitating SI joint and low back pain, managing flare-ups with massage, herbs, acupuncture, and yoga, but I believe Mora was the thing that brought my healing full circle. I don’t know anyone doing this therapy here in the US, but I can’t speak highly enough about it and I only hope that one day it will be available for everyone here. For more information on Mora Therapy…
6.- Strengthening and stretching exercises.
Stretching and strengthening is always a good idea, having a strong and flexible body is key to being healthy and free of pain. The most important area of the body is the core and the glutes, and the second most important part is the legs, especially flexible hamstrings. Why do I mention the core, glutes, and hamstrings? Because these areas are frequently the culprits for the destabilization of the lower back. The easiest ways to strengthen and stretch these areas are with yoga, pilates or calisthenics. There are so many kinds of exercises and tons of videos and tutorials online, but really if you have a problem you should go to see a good professional. There are no shortcuts, particularly if you have an injury, you need to go to see a professional, at least at the beginning until you learn how to do the exercises properly to avoid further damage of your back.
I have had good experiences with yoga, especially with Iyengar Yoga. I like Iyengar because it is so focused on the perfection of the posture, which is fundamental to avoiding further injuries and getting the full benefits from exercise. In Portland, I truly recommend Jewel Yoga – https://www.jewelyogapdx.com/ They are very professional with amazing instructors and affordable prices! Yoga has been clinically proven to improve musculoskeletal problems and reduce stress. After a month practicing you will feel the difference, people feel stronger, more flexible and with lot less pain.
If your problem doesn’t even allow you to practice yoga, it is important to see a good physical therapist that can show you the best way to strengthen and stretch for you so that in the future you can continue with these other modalities.
Meditation could be the best choice of all and at the same time the most underrated and difficult practice to cultivate. This is because it requires a lot of willpower to do it every day and takes time to start feeling the benefits, but it can also be the most effective, for sure the cheapest, and most accessible for everybody. In our crazy modern world, we are continually overstimulated. We tend to ignore our aches and pains until they are so incredibly debilitating that our bodies are screaming at us to pay attention. Pain is a terrible thing, so why would be want to pay attention to it? But like any problem, the longer you ignore it, the more horrible it will become and it will not go away on its own. Besides the physical discomfort, chronic pain is emotionally and psychologically draining. I can attest to the frustration, anger, sadness, and depression of being in pain and the inability to live and enjoy my life the way I did before my back went out. How can you emotionally will yourself to go to your appointments, stay strong, continue with therapy, and cultivate joy in your life when you’re constantly in pain? Meditation is that aspect of dealing with chronic pain because when it comes down to it, we are not just our physical bodies, we are conscious feeling beings that are ruled by emotion. Meditation can truly help with our ability to cope as we journey on our healing path. Mindfulness, acceptance for what is at the moment, believe in what is possible, and cultivation of positive outlook is really the icing on the cake and made possible through mediation.
I strongly recommend the book You Are the Placebo: Making Your Mind Matter by Dr. Joe Dispenza, http://www.drjoedispenza.com/, and his guided meditations. I have not found anybody like him with the ability to explain the benefits of meditation. He presents tons of testimonials from people recovering from terrible conditions and his explanations from a neurologist point of view.
If low back pain or any other chronic pain for that matter is preventing you from living a healthy happy life, it can be seen as a cursed nightmare. But it is my deepest wish that you have found some ideas here or opportunities to try new modalities to take charge of your pain and improve your life. If it hasn’t been made clear, I really believe there is no one miracle solution, no pills, no surgery that is a cure-all. We must break free from the idea that pain can simply be cut away or masked with drugs. The body has the innate ability to heal itself, but sometimes it needs help! There are other options out there that have true lasting results without further damage and are usually best when combined together, naturally.
Good luck and best wishes to you!
* These articles are for information purposes only. By providing the information contained here we are not diagnosing, treating, curing, mitigating, or preventing any type of disease or medical condition. Before beginning any type of natural, integrative or conventional treatment regimen, it is advisable to seek the advice of a licensed healthcare professional.