Back pain is the worst. No, actually, it is one of the most common and irritating types of pain that humans get. Depending on how bad it is, back pain can waylay us from doing our favourite activities for weeks or even months. Sometimes it’s just a dull ache that stays with you all day, sometimes it’s a sharp pain that makes it difficult to walk for a day. Around 80% of us will experience lower back pain, specifically, at some point in our lives. For this reason alone, it’s really important that we learn more about what causes back pain, and then how we can go about preventing it.
Let’s take a look at symptoms of back pain so that everyone is on the same page, and then dive into some of the innovative back pain relief techniques that can get you feeling better, quickly.
Back pain can show its ugly face in many different ways. Some of the most common symptoms of back pain include a dull, muscular ache that lasts for hours or days, or shooting and stabbing pain. The more dull pain can often improve by laying down in a reclining position or by stopping an activity, and can get worse by bending, lifting or walking for long distances. Shooting pain often radiates down the body, with many people experiencing pain all the way down one leg especially with those diagnosed with sciatica.
Depending on the type of back pain that you have, as well as how long you’ve been experiencing it, there are countless options for treatments on the market right now. The biggest problem is deciding whether that physio is right for you, or if you should try over the counter options before diving in with a specialist. If you aren’t seeing any kind of improvement with the basics like rest, ice and other self-care techniques, it may be time to seek out professional help. Let’s now look at some of the most innovative options out there to help you find the best option for you.
Pain disruption therapy
DRG (dorsal root ganglion) stimulation therapy is a relatively new and innovative treatment for treating lower back pain in particular by targeting nerves with small electric pulses. This treatment is often used for those with chronic back pain who have tried other options and seen no results. With actual leads implanted on your nerves and a battery powered implant under your skin, the treatment is pretty full on, but it is reversible and can seriously reduce pain for those chronic patients that have relied upon drug treatment for a long time. You can read more about this treatment here.
While certainly not a new treatment, physiotherapy itself has been ever evolving with providing innovative treatment to back pain sufferers. Sports physio in particular can be an excellent option for those of us who experience back pain while exercising, as certain weakness or form issues can be causing the pain. For chronic back pain sufferers, however, physiotherapy may not be the best bet, as passive care alone won’t help the problem.
As we’ve just mentioned, fixing your back by just laying around will likely not happen. Back pain requires a proactive approach, and often this includes exercises. We highly recommend working with a professional, perhaps even a physiotherapist, to help prescribe the right exercises to strengthen your core and back muscles to support your spine. These can help you in your day to day activities as well. For example, if you are an avid skier every winter, trying out a ski exercise programme to strengthen those muscles can help your back feel better after a long weekend of hitting the slopes. Same goes for snowboarding exercises, or core exercises for runners. Make sure you’re geared up well for these, including knee braces and sublimated shirts to make sure you aren’t injured or get into an accident which will increase your back pain.
Chiropractors use spinal manipulation and other manual therapies to get you feeling better quickly. While traditional chiropractic care hasn’t changed much over the decades, other treatments that chiropractors use have. Many are starting to use things like laser therapy, which uses infrared light to reduce pain, or extracorporeal shock wave therapy which sends strong shock waves to the affected areas to break up any calcification.
While the jury is still out for many on the benefits of alternative therapies for back pain, others swear by them. Some of these treatments are anything but innovative, as they are far from being new! Acupuncture, for example, has been around since about the first century AD, so it’s safe to say that many people believe in its power. Other alternative treatment, like Gua sha, helps promote blood flow and is said to reduce inflammation. Some people even swear by an inflammation free diet, and increasing protein supplements.
You can also try some self-care treatment with various tools like foam rollers and trigger balls. A trigger ball, which is often just a fancy name for a tennis ball-like tool, is great for back pain. Well, by great we mean that it will hurt like crazy when rolling around on hot spots on your back, but will help release those trigger points and get deep into your muscle knots to release them. The preciseness of a ball over a foam roller means you can get deep into the spots that really hurt, rather than simply rolling over the area with a large foam roller. Foam rollers work well for large muscles like your IT band and hamstrings.
Please remember that seeing your GP about your chronic back pain is the first step for getting treatment. You may also require a combination of treatments like we’ve listed above, and one size does not fit all here. We hope that you find the treatment that works best for you and gets you back doing what you love, pain free, in no time!