Arm yourself with Arnica. For people who’ve experienced back injuries, Arnica is among the most effective homeopathic medicines, says homeopath Dana Ullman. He suggests using Arnica orally and topically, in pellet and ointment forms, according to the package directions. He may also recommend oral doses of Hypericum, Rhus toxicodendron, or Bryonia, depending on a person’s individual symptoms. To find out which homeopathic medicines will work best for you, consult a homeopath.
Zero in on the source. Practitioners of Chinese medicine attribute back pain to one ofthree causes: overuse; invasion of Wind, Cold, or Damp; or weakness in the Kidney organ network, which governs the bones. For overuse, Efrem Korngold, O.M.D., L.Ac., prescribes strengthening herbs such as astragalus. To expel Wind, Cold, or Damp, he recommends Chinese herbs such as Angelica pubescens, clematis root, gentian root, chaenomeles fruit, and cinnamon twig. To support the Kidneys, he suggests the herbs dry ginger, eucommia, dipsacus, and drynaria.
Let your fingers do the working. So many studies have proved acupuncture to be an effective treatment for lower-back pain that it has won the endorsement of both the World Health Organization and the National Institutes of Health. Of course, acupuncture must be administered by a professional. If you prefer a self-care approach, try acupressure. Apply steady, penetrating finger pressure to each of the following points for 3 minutes.
Kidney 7, located on your inner leg, two thumb-widths above your anklebone
Bladder 40, located at the back of your knee, in the hollow of your knee crease
Bladder 60, located on the outside of your leg, in the hollow between your anklebone and Achilles tendon
Only 1 percent of people who have back pain require surgery, Dr. Shiple says. If your doctor recommends surgery, don’t rush into it. Get opinions from several back-care specialists before making your decision. Back surgery is traumatic and requires an extended recovery period. It works best for people who have clear symptoms of nerve damage-primarily numbness, tingling, or weakness on one side of the body. It doesn’t do much for anyone else.
Consult your doctor if you experience persistent pain or pain that becomes more severe over the course of a week or two, despite home care. You may have an underlying health problem that’s making your back hurt.
The following also warrant immediate medical attention.
Back pain that’s accompanied by fever, leg weakness, bladder or bowel problems, abdominal pain, or unexplained weight loss
Back pain that develops after abdominal surgery
Unrelenting back pain that interferes with sleep