Innovative therapies for easing back pain

Most of us know someone who is suffering from back pain. In fact, about 80 per cent of us will be afflicted with back pain at some point in our lives. It interferes with daily living and is responsible for 35 per cent of all days taken off from work.

  • Feb. 3, 2011 8:00 p.m.

Most of us know someone who is suffering from back pain. In fact, about 80 per cent of us will be afflicted with back pain at some point in our lives. It interferes with daily living and is responsible for 35 per cent of all days taken off from work.

Why You Hurt: Your spinal column is made up of bones (vertebrae) that are separated by round spongy pads of cartilage called discs that act like shock absorbers to cushion your body as you move. Tendons, ligaments and muscles help to hold the bones in alignment. If any of these physical pieces are strained, swollen or broken, you get pain.

You don’t have to get hit by a falling piano. Simple things like bending, lifting and twisting, and daily activities such as yard or housework, are sufficient to cause pain. Sports-related injuries or the jolt from a vehicle accident (even low speed) can stress your back. Other causes are degeneration due to arthritis and osteoporosis, and congenital conditions of the spine such as scoliosis. Additional factors include obesity, smoking, stress, toxicity, bad posture, poor physical condition, diet and sleeping positions. And as you age your bone density and muscle elasticity decrease. Your discs gradually become dehydrated and less flexible, impairing their ability to cushion the vertebrae.

Acupuncture, laser therapy and injections of natural medicines are proven and effective treatments for pain. Patients also benefit from traditional spinal manipulation by a chiropractor. There are, however, new and exciting therapies that provide exceptional relief for back pain (as well as neck, hip, knee and leg pain). The following innovative therapies could make a real difference for you.

Flexion-Distraction: Developed by Dr. James Cox, D.C., flexion-distraction requires a special treatment table with moveable parts. You lie face down on the table, your legs are strapped in and the table gently separates in the middle. The doctor gently stretches your spine with slow, careful movements. The lower half of your body is moved down and up, to each side and sometimes even in a circular motion. All of these movements are tested by the doctor to make sure that you experience no pain during the process. Patients say they feel “stretched out.” Flexion-Distraction differs from traditional spinal manipulation in that there are no quick movements or thrusting. Studies have reported that for maximum results, the average number of treatments is 12 over a period of 29 days.

Kaufmann Technique: This gentle hands-on therapy was perfected by Dr. Stephen Kaufmann, D.C. When you are in pain or have trigger points (spots of sharp pain), the muscles responsible for the pain are in a state of contraction (like a cramp). Using your body’s natural reflexes, the doctor elicits relaxation in contracted muscles responsible for your pain. This decreases and eliminates trigger points and pain.

Prolotherapy: An advanced injection technique, Prolotherapy treats chronic pain around the joints and areas of muscular attachment. The injections contain medicines that stimulate the injured area to increase the healing process. This procedure stabilizes, strengthens and supports traumatized tissue, restoring proper function. Also known as regenerative injection therapy, it’s an excellent choice when nothing else has worked.

Fast Acting Pain Relief: If you are consistently having to use drugs and/or physical therapies to stave off your back pain, or if you have pain that just won’t go away, you should seriously consider these innovative therapies, offered at our centre that can help resolve your pain. A bonus is that they can work relatively quickly, so you won’t need months of therapy to determine what the best treatment is for you.

Dr. Denise De Monte is a naturopathic physician in Vernon at the De Monte Centre Natural Medicine.