Science

Massage Therapy, Yoga And Tai Chi Help Reduce Lower Back Pain

By Hilda Scott , Apr 06, 2013 03:24 PM EDT
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In the U.S., back pain is the second most common form of neurological disorder, according to the National Institutes of Health. Any disorder of the body's nervous system is considered a neurological disorder and headaches rank at the top in this category.

When you have back pain, your primary care doctor should properly assess your condition. Causes of back pain can range from mild muscle strain to a herniated disc, osteoporosis, even a tumor. Finding out the cause of the back pain is important to do to make sure you begin the correct treatment plan.

There are some natural remedies that may offer some relief for mild to moderate pain often found in the lower back. When used with conventional forms of treatment especially, these popular alternative remedies can be beneficial:

Massage Therapy:

Massage therapy is an effective treatment for lower back pain, according to a study from 2011. Researchers found that the benefits were rewarding, pain relief lasted six months and beyond.

"We found that both types of massage were equally effective in helping people improve their function and diminish their symptoms," epidemiologist Daniel Cherkin said. Cherkin led the study that examined 401 people that had chronic lower back pain.

Participants were randomly divided to receive one of three back pain treatments. Some patients received a full body relaxation massage, a deep tissue massage or the standard treatment of medication and physical therapy. 10 weeks of treatment and almost two thirds of the patients who received the massage said that their back pain minimized or disappeared. Just about one-third of the patients that received the conventional medication and physical therapy treatment experience relief.  

Yoga:

According to a study, twelve weeks of yoga was found to reduce back pain systems in people who suffered from chronic back pain. For the study, 228 participants were assigned randomly to three groups. Yoga classes were taken by 92 participants, 91 took stretching classes conducted by a licensed physical therapy expert. Both groups' classes were for 12 weeks and lasted 75 minutes. The 45 remaining participants were given a self care books that educated them on lifestyle changes and exercise to reduce back pain. After 3 months, the group that took the yoga classes showed the results of minimized back pain. The stretching classes showed similar results to yoga, suggesting that muscle stretching and strengthening had an effect on back pain relief.

"Our results suggest that both yoga and stretching can be good, safe options for people who are willing to try physical activity to relieve their moderate low back pain," Dr. Karen J. Sherman of the Group Health Research Institute in Seattle said.

Tai Chi:

Tai Chi is ancient martial art involving slow and graceful movements along with meditation and deep breathing. Tai chi has been found to benefit people who suffer from chronic pain. There is some evidence that practicing in tai chi helps to alleviate back pain according to an Australian study. The study involved 160 participants from age 18 to 70 with chronic lower back pain. Tai chi classes lasting 40 minutes were assigned to 78 of the participants. Classes were taken twice a week for eight weeks and then reduced to once a week for two weeks. The remaining participants were assigned to continue with their normal fitness and health routines. After 10 weeks, the group that practices tai chi reported a 25 percent reduction in pain.

"Even though a 25 percent [improvement] may not seem like a big deal in general, in the pain world it is significant. What tai chi does, in my opinion, is it works with postural and body awareness. It also works on dynamic stability and core strength, which have in the past shown to decrease load in the lumbar spine," Jennifer Solomon, MD, an assistant attending physiatrist at New York City's Hospital for Special Surgery said.

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