Health professionals &
This backpain professionals section offers a basic insight into some
of the professional disciplines which may be helpful in treating back
Not all these disciplines are medically recognised but just as everyone
experiences back pain in their own way and no too sufferers are the
same, it would be foolish to dismiss any treament without some knowledge
of it. Note that many of these therapys overlap so massage, for example,
may be practiced by backpain professionals in different disciplines.
We welcome contributions from backpain professionals working in any
discipline and will expand the section as necessary to cover the many
practical therapys which are available to offer pain relief.
Probably originated in China although there are also Japanese, Tibetan
and Korean versions taught and practiced.
In acupuncture, very fine needles are inserted into specific parts
of the body where theory claims there are meridians along which qi,
a vital energy flows. This is done with the intention of relieving pain
in other, related, parts of the body and also for other general health
While there is no proven scientific confirmation of the theory, extensive
research does seem to suggest that the treatment is successful in relieving
back pain in some - but not all - cases.
The 'Alexander Technique' is based on the teachings of F. Matthias
Alexander, who first observed and formulated its principles between
1890 and 1900. It is a mental and physical discipline for the self-prevention
of unhelpful or harmful habits that interfere with the condition of
the individual as a whole.
Useful as a long term lifestyle philosophy but not suited to short
term pain relief.
Aromatherapy uses essential oils - aromatics made by crushing and distilling
a single herb or flower - in holistic treatments to improve physical
and emotional well-being. It is claimed that these oils have therapeutic
properties, which can used to improve health.
The oils are most commonly used in massage, or in baths, using a few
drops in the warm water. There is some evidence that these oils can
be absorbed into the blood stream and then become metabolised into the
is probably an effective treatment for stress-related problems which
are often the cause of back pain.
Chiropractors focus on manual manipulation therapy including spinal
adjustment and other joint and soft-tissue manipulation. There are two
main groups and many sub-styles within the profession.
A chiropractor may use X-Rays prior to starting a course of treatment,
or may solely depend on what his hands tell him about the patient's
condition. Treatment can occassionaly be painful and there are suggestions
that there is a small element of risk in this therapy.
General Practioners - Doctors
Should always be your first line of defense! GP's - General Practioners
- like their title suggests, are fully trained across a whole range
of health problems. They are best placed to give advice about your particular
circumstances and they know and can refer you to suitable specialists
in back pain and effective treatment.
In the UK., NHS Direct is
a 24/7 free medical advice service. A 'phone call to them might help
you decide if a visit to your GP is necessary, or if you would benefit
from alternate treatment.
Osteopathy recognises the importance of the link between the structure
of the human body and the way it functions. Osteopaths use a developed
sense of touch called palpation to focus on the bodys skeleton
and joint function along with the muscles and soft tissues.
Gentle stretching and mobilising techniques are used in addition to
the manipulation of joints in order to relax muscles and stiff joints.
Some gentle massage is used and the osteopath may also carry out manipulation
using short, quick movements to spinal joints.
The practice of treating 'Like with Like' - taking natural substances
which have been so diluted to the point where non of the original substance
is measurable. The concept theorises that the resultant dilute fluid
still retains the 'spirit' or memory of the original substance.
While not specific to back pain treatment, it may be prescribed in
conjunction with other therapy.
Reflexology involves a similar philosophy to acupuncture therapy. Based
on a theory that all the body's organs are mirrored in the feet, relexologists
believe that massage of specific areas of the feet will result in clearing
blockages in the corresponding areas of the body.
Physiotherapists diagnose problems in the joints and soft tissues of
the body, and carry out a assessment and generate a treatment plan for
your particular problem. Physiotherapy for back pain can ofer a broad
range of treatments to relieve pain, promote relaxation and help to
Physiotherapists may use a range of techniques include manipulation,
mobilisation and massage. They may also oversee a full exercise programme
to increase general fitness or to strengthen muscles which support the
Occupational therapists are generally concerned with the longer term
management of health problems on an individual or community basis.
Perhaps the least contentious health therapy and one which has probably
been with us for longer than any other form of treatment. There are
many different forms from the classic 'Swedish' style massage which
uses stroking, wringing and cupping movements to stimulate blood flow,
to the most gentle stroking and application of vital oils such as some
See the article on massage and
back care by Geof Warren.
Too often overlooked and usually very cost effective! Your local pharmacist
is highly trained and is licensed to give professional advice. While
not a back pain professional, he or she is well qualified to say if
you need see your doctor and will be able to advise on non prescription
medication, which in most cases will be all you need.
Pilates focuses on building your back, abdominal and pelvic muscle
strength and improving your posture through a series of low repetition
low impact stretching and conditioning exercises.
Pilates provides a complete body workout and helps you develop an awareness
of how the body works, encouraging your mind and body to work in harmony.
The word comes from the Sanskrit and means a union or conjunction between
mind, body and spirit.
The most commonly taught form of in the West yoga is Hatha Yoga where
students exercise to stretch and flex the body, develop breath awareness
and learn relaxation. It may also involve meditation.
Yoga teachers are not specifically backpain professionals. The exercises
they promote may be gentle or physically very demanding. In relation
to back pain, yoga should be considered as a long term lifestyle option,
not a treatment.
Note - Backpain professionals
In the majority of countries, medical professionals in most of these
disciplines have undergone a full course of study and are government
licensed. This ensures that they are qualified to practice - it does
not mean that they are all equally experienced or skilled.
Wherever possible, speak with your GP prior to placing your health
in the hands of anyone who is unknown to you. Your doctor will have
local knowledge and can almost certainly suggest a backpain professional
with whom he is comfortable. And remember; just because someone may
have helped your friend, your own problem may be quite different.
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