An article published recently in the SMH casts doubt on the efficacy of using non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for treating back pain. It turns out that taking common painkillers like panadol and nurofen actually does more harm than good. On the one hand, they don’t even work very well, offering only slight relief for only very short amounts of time; and on the other hand, using them causes incidence of serious gastro-intestinal disease to sky-rocket by 250%. They are also implicated in causing kidney failure, liver failure, and heart attacks as well. Its a huge risk you’re taking for only a tiny benefit. Indeed the company that sells Nurofen was fined $1.6 Million in 2016 for false advertising when claiming that their products can target back pain: they can’t.
NSAIDS are so ineffective at treating back pain that many people have to take it to the next level and start using opioids such as panadeine or nurofen plus which contain codeine. Unfortunately these drugs are highly addictive, and so as of next year (2018), they will be unavailable for purchase over the counter in Australia.
Surely there has to be a better way! Surely there is a treatment for back pain which is both safe and effective!
Thankfully there is. The American College of Physicians guidelines have now been updated, and a number of interesting new recommendations are made. As well as specifically saying that pharmaceutical interventions like NSAIDS and opioids should NOT be used, it also goes on to recommend yoga, massage, acupuncture and heat therapy as first line treatments against back pain.
Finally some common sense from the conventional medical community!
When it comes to yoga for back pain, I just love the potent effects of the plow pose for stretching out and relieving those muscles along the whole spine. When you get your legs fully over and placed out on the floor behind you, the feeling in the lower back especially is intense.
Massage obviously has a beneficial effect for back pain, anybody who’s ever had a good massage can tell you that. Acupuncture too works hand in hand with massage to fully and completely relax tight muscles and relieve pain.
But what I find especially interesting is the ACP’s recommendation for heat.
Heat is actually their number one recommendation, and for good reason. It really works well melt tension out of muscles and provide relaxing relief. It also aligns with the theory in Traditional Chinese Medicine that lower back pain is often caused by Kidney Qi and Yang deficiency, which can be strengthened by applying heat to the meridians in the area.
The problem with just using heat by itself though is that you really want to get the heat into the muscles and tissues and meridians internal to the body itself, not just on the surface. If you apply heat just to the surface, the skin will get too hot and feel uncomfortable. Meanwhile the barrier of the skin prevents the superficial heat from penetrating deeply enough to be maximally effective.
This is yet another area where acupuncture can to really to boost the effectiveness of another treatment method exponentially, working in tandem with heat to provide the most beneficial effect possible. This is because the acupuncture needle is made of metal, and metal is a conductor of heat. Thus by inserting the acupuncture needle into the belly of the muscle and along the energy meridians, you can get heat to penetrate into the deeper tissues much more effectively, without heating up the skin and causing discomfort.
By synergistically combining all these elements of stretching, massage, acupuncture and heat therapy into one session, you can fully experience their powerful healing effects, and finally feel lasting relief from back pain.
Make a booking at Inner Zest Sydney Acupuncture-Massage today!