Nearly 80 percent of Americans will experience back pain at some point in their life, using paracetamol as their first go-to medicine to soothe the pain. However, a recent study published in The BMJ (British Medical Journal) found that paracetamol is one of the most ineffective ways to treat back pain and osteoarthritis, and it increases the risk of liver issues.
“Patients were nearly four times more likely to have abnormal results on liver function tests compared to those taking placebo pills,” said Gustavo Machado, one of the researchers.
As paraphrased by the BBC, Dr. Christian Mallen, from Keele University in the UK, noted, “Options other than drugs should be the ‘cornerstone’ of managing back pain conditions.”
7 ways to naturally alleviate back pain
Exercise is one of the best medicines to treat back pain. However, avoid strenuous activities and any movements that caused the pain in the first place.
1. Physical activity
According to one study, a simple walking program can help alleviate back problems. Many people go swimming to help ease their back pain, and research supports this. The water actually takes the stress off the joints, while strengthening the back and core muscles.
Another study published in The Clinical Journal of Pain found strong evidence that mild yoga stretches may be an answer to back pain as it strengthens muscles and increases flexibility of the spine and back. Yoga, or other relaxation practices such as meditation, deep breathing and tai chi, may also be helpful as they all induce the relaxation response, which helps reduce pain.
3. Limit resting time
Too much rest will cause more pain and difficulties in daily tasks compared to people who stay active, registered osteopath Antonia Boulton revealed in a Daily Mail article:
“Keeping moving is the best advice. Inactivity leads to stiffer joints and sitting for long periods compresses them further, potentially causing morer damage.
“Even going for a gentle walk for five minutes can do wonders”
4. Improve posture
Many people don’t give much attention to their posture during the day but bad posture puts extra strain on the back and can over time add up and cause chronic pain.
“One of the most common mistakes we make is thinking of our backs only when we lift something heavy,” said Adam Dallison, a private osteopath from Surrey, in the Daily Mail. “You’re actually more likely to injure it getting a roast out of the oven or picking something up off the floor.”
“Even something simple such as opening a sash window can cause damage because you’re usually leaning over something and the back is forced into an unnatural position,” he added.
5. Devil’s claw
Also known as wood spider or grapple, devil’s claw works as an anti-inflammatory and has shown some great results in treating pain, especially when located in the lower back. Scientists found it to be as effective as Vioxx when taken daily on a short-term basis. However, while devil’s claw may generally be a safe option, people with a sensitive stomach, stomach ulcers, low blood pressure or an increased heart rate should avoid using it.
6. Comfrey root
A study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that an ointment which contains comfrey root extract reduced the intensity of acute lower and upper back pain by up to 95 percent when used for five days. However, don’t use it more than 10 days at a time to avoid toxicity.
7. Alexander technique
The Alexander technique shows great long-term results in treating patients with chronic back pain. The Alexander technique is a form of physical activity that teaches people how to adjust their posture to reduce muscular tension and stress. However always discuss with your physician first before treating conditions with any of these remedies to avoid adverse effects.