If you've been suffering from back pain for years, you may be tired of relying on prescription medication simply to allow you to perform your regular daily activities. In other cases, you may be looking for alternative sources of pain relief after finding that your primary care physician is no longer willing to prescribe the heavy-duty medications you require to live a pain-free life. Fortunately, advances in medical technology and an increased understanding of how pain can impact other bodily systems can help you reduce your pain levels without living in a narcotic fog. Read on to learn more about some of your drug-free back pain treatment options.
A former athletic coach, personal trainer, or even doctor may have once told you that pain is all in your mind. While this may seem like a dismissive way to respond to genuine complaints, it is technically true -- pain is simply the way your brain interprets certain types of signals from your nervous system. In some cases, your brain may even perceive a total absence of nervous system activity as pain or discomfort (such as with amputees who may report "ghost pain" from the missing limb for months or years after the amputation).
This complex relationship between the nervous system and pain receptors in the brain is one reason why back pain can be so problematic for doctors to diagnose and treat. While back pain can often be caused by injury or chronic overuse that may be clearly visible on an X-ray, in other cases it may simply be due to misfired receptors or poor communication between your spinal cord and brain.
A new type of "scrambler therapy" aims to change the way your nervous system responds to pain signals by scrambling these signals before they ever reach your brain. This therapy is generally performed for 30-45 minute sessions up to 10 times, although some patients report significant improvement in pain symptoms after only one 30-minute treatment. If you've suffered from back pain for a very long time, you may benefit from additional treatments, whereas if your pain is fairly new in origin, you may be able to achieve permanent relief from your symptoms after just a few sessions.
While this type of treatment has been around for centuries, it was not until recently that medical professionals truly understood what often made chiropractic care so effective in the treatment of spinal and pelvic pain. Not only can this manual or mechanical manipulation of your spine help put your spinal and cervical vertebrae back into proper alignment, many believe that "releasing" these vertebrae and joints from constriction caused by scar tissue or fluid buildup can improve the communication between your spine and brain, diminishing the amount of back or neck pain you regularly experience.
This release is often accomplished by the chiropractor applying pressure to several areas on your spine in quick succession. You may hear a cracking noise or feel a popping deep within your back, followed by a nearly instant sensation of relief. If your back pain is caused in part by spinal stenosis or osteoarthritis, the chiropractor will likely use much gentler techniques to achieve the same result, as some traditional chiropractic manipulation may be contraindicated for those with already-weakened bones.
As another bonus, both scrambler therapy and chiropractic treatment are fairly inexpensive, accessible in most areas of the country, and have no known long-term side effects -- allowing you to try either or both of these methods as an alternative to narcotic pain medication without fearing addiction, further harm to your spine, or other potential negative consequences.
For more information, you may want to contact a back pain specialist at a clinic like Chiropractor Plus.