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A meta-analysis also found that acupuncture provides relief for chronic pain that may continue to work well over time. The back muscles, bones, and joints work hard to support the body as a person moves, sits, and stands. Being overweight can cause back pain due to increased pressure on the spine and strain of the back muscles.

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One study found that obesity has links to high levels of low back pain and disability in men. Losing weight could help alleviate some or all of a person's back pain if weight is a contributing factor. If a person is overweight, they may wish to work with their doctor to find ways to lose weight. Studies have shown that higher levels of inflammation have a close connection to certain types of chronic pain.

11 ways to treat back pain without surgery

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs NSAIDs , such as ibuprofen and naproxen, work well for some types of pain. Inflammation has many causes. One way to help lower inflammation in the body is to follow an anti-inflammatory diet. Evidence suggests that some foods, especially sugary and processed foods, can make inflammation worse. Research suggests that certain foods can help lower inflammation in the body, including:. Similarly, studies show that processed foods and sugar can promote inflammation, which could make the pain worse.

People with back pain may wish to try focusing on whole foods and avoiding processed foods, trans fats, and sugar. Incorrect posture could be the cause of back pain for some people, so taking steps to correct it may bring relief. Studies show that incorrect posture contributed to low back pain in adolescents.

In one study , researchers found that participants who completed an 8-week exercise program that corrected posture experience relief from back and shoulder pain. People can purchase wearable devices that gently pull the shoulders back, reminding them to correct their posture. There are many types to choose from in online stores. In some cases, a person may need to make changes to their workspace if their desk or computer does not have proper ergonomics. Read some tips for correcting posture here and learn about correct sitting positions for good posture here.

Although a person may find being active difficult when they are living with pain, movement is one of the best natural treatments for many types of pain. Studies have long supported the fact that exercise can release endorphins. These natural brain chemicals help stop pain by binding to opioid receptors in the brain. This has a mild effect similar to opioid pain medications. Research suggests that exercises that strengthen the back and neck muscles can reduce pain in people with chronic back and neck pain. Read about back-strengthening exercises here.

Preparing for Low Back Surgery - OrthoInfo - AAOS

Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation TENS involves a person placing sticky electrode patches onto their back. When a person activates the battery-powered device, it sends electrical impulses to the electrodes, which can interrupt pain signals. One study found that a minute TENS session provided significant relief from low back pain.

A meta-analysis found that TENS provided "significant pain reduction" for people with chronic low back pain.


A person may purchase a TENS device from their doctor or online. Stress can cause a person to tense their muscles, which can cause back pain or make existing back pain worse. The American Institute of Stress lists back pain among the symptoms of stress. One study also explains that stress can cause changes in the body's perception of pain. People who experience high levels of stress may wish to try methods that can help with relaxation and stress relief, including social support, meditation, and exercise.

Wearing the wrong type of footwear can cause the legs, hips, and back to misalign.

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This misalignment can lead to back pain. High heels, shoes that are too tight, or shoes that offer poor support are possible back pain culprits. One study found that people who wore custom orthotics in their shoes for 6 weeks saw a significant improvement of back pain. Physical therapy involves doing specific stretches and exercises under the guidance of a licensed physical therapist. These exercises may relieve tension or strengthen specific areas to help relieve pain.

Dr. Matthew Neal: Minimally invasive spine surgery

A large study found that people who used physical therapy for low back pain were less likely to need other health care services for their pain later. Cannabinoids are substances derived from the cannabis plant. THC is commonly found in marijuana and is the chemical responsible for the feeling of a "high. People use CBD oil to treat a variety of ailments, including pain. A systematic review found that cannabinoids provided a significant effect on pain reduction. However, researchers need to do more studies before experts can recommend CBD oil as an effective pain reliever.

CBD oil is not legal in all states. A person should check their local laws before purchasing or using it. Although back pain affects many thousands of people, doctors do not follow a set "standard" for deciding whether surgery is necessary for back pain. If home remedies, medication, and noninvasive treatments have not helped, and back pain is interfering with life, a person may wish to discuss surgical options with their doctor.

Surgery does not necessarily correct all types of back pain. It can help with back pain that is caused by particular physical issues in the spine. It may help people who have a bone spur, a bulging or ruptured disk, a spinal issue, or a nerve that is under pressure. Often, back pain is a result of a minor injury or overuse of the back muscles. This will usually get better over time and heal faster with treatment. If a person has back pain as well as other symptoms, such as fever , numbness, foot drop, or if it occurs after an accident, see a doctor.

Article last reviewed by Fri 28 June Visit our Back Pain category page for the latest news on this subject, or sign up to our newsletter to receive the latest updates on Back Pain. All references are available in the References tab. Ahmad, A. Pain in times of stress. Calder, P.

Cambron, J. Shoe orthotics for the treatment of chronic low back pain: A randomized controlled trial. Childs, J. Implications of early and guideline adherent physical therapy for low back pain on utilization and costs. Chou, L. The association between obesity and low back pain and disability is affected by mood disorders: A population-based, cross-sectional study of men. Daenen, L. Exercise, not to exercise, or how to exercise in patients with chronic pain? Applying science to practice. Dreisinger, T. Exercise in the management of chronic back pain.

Jauregui, J. A meta-analysis of transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation for chronic low back pain. Karst, M. Cannabinoids in pain medicine. Kim, D. Effect of an exercise program for posture correction on musculoskeletal pain. Liu, L. Acupuncture for low back pain: An overview of systematic reviews. Low back pain fact sheet Lynch, M. Cannabinoids for the treatment of chronic non-cancer pain: An updated systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Meziat Filho, N. Association between home posture habits and low back pain in high school adolescents.

High-heeled sandals, pumps, and stilettos might be fashionable but can push the lower back, spine, and hips out of alignment, which leads to muscle overuse and back pain. Even shoes with platform or block heels can be bad for your back over time. You could also choose lower heels, avoid pointy toed-shoes that squish the feet into an awkward position, and use gel or padded inserts to reduce the impact on your hips and spine. Regardless of the type and severity of your back pain, yoga can significantly reduce your symptoms.

Some patients are able to avoid pain medication and surgery altogether.

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