10) Alexander Technique
Alexander Technique is a type of therapy that teaches people to improve their posture and eliminate bad habits such as slouching, which can lead to pain, muscle tension, and decreased mobility.
There is strong scientific support for the effectiveness of Alexander Technique lessons in treatment of chronic back pain, according to a research review published in the International Journal of Clinical Practice in 2012. The review included one well-designed, well-conducted clinical trial demonstrating that Alexander Technique lessons led to significant long-term reductions in back pain and incapacity caused by chronic back pain. These results were broadly supported by a smaller, earlier clinical trial testing the use of Alexander Technique lessons in treatment of chronic back pain.
You can learn Alexander technique in private sessions or group classes. A typical session lasts about 45 minutes. During that time, the instructor notes the way you carry yourself and coaches you with verbal instruction and gentle touch.
Also referred to as "hypnosis," hypnotherapy is a mind-body technique that involves entering a trance-like state of deep relaxation and concentration. When undergoing hypnotherapy, patients are thought to be more open to suggestion. As such, hypnotherapy is often used to effect change in behaviors thought to contribute to health problems (including chronic pain).
Preliminary research suggests that hypnotherapy may be of some use in treatment of low back pain. For instance, a pilot study published in the International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis found that a four-session hypnosis program (combined with a psychological education program) significantly reduced pain intensity and led to improvements in mood among patients with chronic low back pain.
One of the oldest therapies for pain relief, balneotherapy is a form of hydrotherapy that involves bathing in mineral water or warm water.
For a 2006 report published in Rheumatology, investigators analyzed the available research on the use of balneotherapy in treatment of low back pain. Looking at five clinical trial, the report's authors found "encouraging evidence" suggesting that balneotherapy may be effective for treating patients with low back pain. Noting that supporting data are scarce, the authors call for larger-scale trials on balneotherapy and low back pain.
Dead Sea salts and other sulfur-containing bath salts can be found in spas, health food stores, and online. However, people with heart conditions should not use balneotherapy unless under the supervision of their primary care provider.
An ancient mind-body practice, meditation has been found to increase pain tolerance and promote management of chronic pain in a number of small studies. In addition, a number of preliminary studies have focused specifically on the use of meditation in management of low back pain. A 2008 study published in Pain, for example, found that an eight-week meditation program led to an improvement of pain acceptance and physical function in patients with chronic low back pain. The study included 37 older adults, with members meditating an average of 4.3 days a week for an average of 31.6 minutes a day.
Although it's not known how meditation might help relieve pain, it's thought that the practice's ability to induce physical and mental relaxation may help keep chronic stress from aggravating chronic pain conditions.
One of the most commonly practiced and well-studied forms of meditation is mindfulness meditation.
14) Tai Chi
Tai chi is an ancient martial art that involves slow, graceful movements and incorporates meditation and deep breathing. Thought to reduce stress, tai chi has been found to benefit people with chronic pain in a number of small studies.
Although research on the use of tai chi in treatment of back pain is somewhat limited, there's some evidence that practicing tai chi may help alleviate back pain to some degree. The available science includes a 2011 study published in Arthritis Care & Research, which found that a 10-week tai chi program reduced pain and improved functioning in people with long-term low back pain symptoms. The study involved 160 adults with chronic low back pain, half of whom participated in 40-minute-long tai chi sessions 18 times over the 10-week period.
15) Music Therapy
Music therapy is a low-cost natural therapy that may reduce some of the stress of chronic pain in conjunction with other treatment. Studies find that it may reduce the disability, anxiety, and depression associated with chronic pain.
A 2005 study published in Annals of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine evaluated the influence of music therapy in hospitalized patients with chronic back pain. Researchers randomized 65 patients to receive, on alternate months, physical therapy plus four music therapy sessions or physical therapy alone and found that music significantly reduced disability, anxiety, and depression. Learn more about music therapy and find out the 6 health benefits you may not know about.
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