Nonsurgical Pain Treatments

Acupuncture for Pain Relief

For those who suffer from chronic pain, you may want to try acupuncture, an alternative approach to pain relief that has been practiced in Asia for many centuries.

Neck pain is usually associated with car accidents but the wear and tear of daily living can also result in periodic or chronic neck issues. Fortunately, there are a wide variety of non-surgical treatments available options for back and neck pain.

One treatment is injections. An epidural steroid injection into the spine can provide lower-back-pain relief. It works by decreasing inflammation around the nerves. There are also facet injections. Facet joints are pairs of small joints situated at each vertebral level. Nerves from the facet joints carry signals, such as pain signals, from the spine to the brain. Facet joint injections are normally prescribed to identify a pain source. Trigger point injections are designed to reduce pain caused by a muscle spasm. The little knots that can form in muscles or in the fascia tissue are called trigger points, which can be the source of pain. Sometimes a doctor will suggest nerve blocks, which temporarily interrupt the pain signal.

For those who want to try a more natural approach, a chiropractic practitioner can devise a personalized treatment that includes acupuncture, stretching exercises, and physiotherapy to relieve pain and promote overall physical—and emotional—wellness.

Even though the Chinese have used it for thousands of years, over the last couple of decades in the United States acupuncture has gone from a fringe alternative treatment to mainstream acceptance. In May 2009, research published by the Center for Health Studies found that 60 percent of patients given acupuncture for back pain still felt better a year after treatment; only 39 percent of those who did not get the treatment reported improvement.

Exercises can also help alleviate pain while strengthening back muscles to help prevent future pain from recurring. And not all exercise is aerobic. One effective muscle work out is to lie on your back and elevate your legs by resting them on a chair, couch or coffee table, making sure the knees and hips are aligned and at a 90-degree angle. Called the 90-90 position, it takes pressure off the lower back that could be a factor in neck, shoulders, or back pain. The 90/90 position is considered a passive realignment of the spine that is relaxing and that promoted good posture.

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