Living with chronic back pain is a nightmare too many people are forced to live through.
Whether from a high school sports injury, a car accident, a work injury, or bad luck of the draw, those who suffer from chronic back pain know how badly it can interfere with everyday life.
However, long-term use of pain relievers can be dangerous too, even deadly.
People who suffer from back pain shouldn't be forced to choose between two negative options.
Fortunately, with an open mind and a willingness to try new things, they don't have to.
Read on for our top 7 options for pain management without drugs.
Why Pain Management Without Drugs is an Important Option
Long term pain relief drug use has a large potential for negative side effects.
First, many pain relievers, especially opioids, are addictive and potentially dangerous. Opioids can manifest addiction in as little as three days of use and cause side effects such as nausea, respiratory depression, and paranoia.
Long term opioid users can suffer from liver damage, brain damage, and dependence. Even taking too much Tylenol can eventually lead to liver damage.
It's absolutely vital that we begin to explore the relevance of pain management without drugs.
1. Strength Training
You probably dislike exercise. It's okay, you're not alone, most people agree with you. In fact, 77% of Americans don't get the recommended amount of weekly exercise.
However, just because something is commonplace, doesn't mean it's right.
If more people exercised, kept up their muscle mass and heart health, there would be far fewer health conditions in the world. That's not to say your back problems are related, but being physically fit certainly wouldn't hurt.
Lifting weights is one of the best ways to build and maintain muscle mass.
Most people picture some version of Arnold Schwartzenneger when they think of lifting weights, but it's a complete over-dramatization.
Building up lower back and core strength fortifies your body and helps support your body weight, taking some of the pressure off your back.
If your back pain is injury related, you will most likely benefit from physical therapy.
Physical therapy helps you gently build up strength in injured or inflamed areas while also boosting mobility and agility.
Body Weight Training
If you don't like weights and don't want a physical therapist, try bodyweight training.
Bodyweight training allows you to build up strength outside of a gym and without and weight equipment.
The benefits of yoga far exceed pain management without drugs. However, for those looking to heal themselves, yoga is a great place to start.
Yoga helps you physically on many levels. It improves balance, flexibility, mobility, and strength.
Yoga also improves circulatory and cardiovascular health while promoting a stronger metabolism which can lead to weight loss.
For someone who suffers from chronic back pain, yoga is a must. However, consistency is king and always will be. Try to make a habit of at least three yoga sessions a week.
The scientists, healers, psychologists, and spiritual leaders alike have barely begun to brush the surface of meditation.
While Tibetan monks have been said to go years without eating due to intense states of meditation, we can take a step back and look simply at it's healing and pain relieving properties.
First, understand that by advocating meditation to decrease pain doesn't imply your pain isn't real. It very much is.
Meditation is simply a way of learning how to deal with and experience pain differently. As you focus on the pain itself, we become less aware of the suffering it causes. By observing that simple truth, you can already begin to control your pain.
Directly put, we can't control our pain, but we can control our suffering.
4. Alternative Healing Methods
Many alternative healing methods exist. Some are more common and accepted than others. Though, depending on who you ask, you can find someone who swears by every one of them.
One of the most commonly accepted and well-known methods of alternative healing is chiropractic care. Procedures such as spinal decompression therapy work to gently move and stretch the spine, providing pressure relief for the spinal disks.
Energy healing practices, such as Reiki, are an Eastern approach to medicine. They focus on the energy in our bodies, often referred to as Qi to help us heal.
Also originating from the East, acupuncture is a procedure in which tiny needles are inserted along our meridian lines. This premise of this procedure also deals with the movement of energy.
5. Fix Your Diet
Although we all get tired of the word "diet" (and with good reason), let's look at the importance of diet and its roll in pain management without drugs. Understand too that despite its negative connotation, the word diet doesn't' need to be a negative thing.
Some food actually has anti-inflammatory properties. And wouldn't you know it, these are all healthy foods such as colorful fruits and vegetables, salmon, and green, leafy vegetables, seeds and nut. Basically, all the foods everyone else is telling you to eat for alternative reasons.
High-fat, high-sugar, and overly-processed foods, on the other hand, have the opposite effect, causing inflammation.
Eating healthier food also helps you lose weight, which in and of itself is an added bonus. However, less weight also means less strain on your back. Even 10 extra pounds off your body can make a big difference!
6. Topical Treatments
Topical treatments of all kinds exist for pain reduction, each one working in its own unique way.
> Biofreeze - uses menthol to produce a cold sensation, which stimulates receptors to block pain
> CBD oil - a derivative of hemp, CBD can be activated transdermal to provide pain relief through creams, lotions, and patches
> Dit da jow - an Eastern topical herbal remedy to help heal injured areas of the body
7. Adjust Your Lifestyle
Lastly, to fully incorporate pain management without drugs, you need to practice high forms of awareness and consciousness. This doesn't necessarily mean turning into a Buddhist monk, it means knowing your body and mind.
Know Your Triggers
Know what triggers flare-ups and pain episodes and avoid them when you can. If your job requires you to stand, crouch, kneel, or sit in a position that causes flare-ups, it may be time to look for a new job.
Accept Your Limitations
Accepting your limitations is key to living with chronic back pain. While miraculous surgeries, treatments, and healing phenomena exist, not everyone is so lucky. The truth is, many people live with chronic back pain their entire life. It comes down to how you handle it.
Accept that you have limitations and embrace them into your life.
Be Open Minded
On a final note, don't close yourself off to any options for pain management without drugs. Just because something seems strange or odd to you, doesn't mean it won't work.
Go see the chiropractor even if your neighbor had a terrible experience. Try spiritual or energetic healing even if "you don't believe in that nonsense."
At the end of the day, your back already hurts, what do you have to lose? Try anything and everything until something clicks. Just remember, the more you believe something will work, the more likely it will. For more ways to help with that pain contact us.