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Lower back pain is not something you should be experiencing alone. Nearly all adults will experience lower back pain at some time in their lives. Sciatica, or lower back pain, is the leading cause of disability in job positions and the largest contributor to absenteeism worldwide. It is second only to headaches in the United States as the most common neurological condition. Most lower back or lumbar pains disappear within a few days. However, some cases may require more time or lead to more serious conditions.

Acute pain is short-term and can last from a few days up to a couple of weeks. It’s usually caused by a trauma to the lower back, or other conditions such as arthritis. Trauma to the back can be caused by injuries sustained during sports, housework or gardening.

Low lumbar pain and sciatica can sometimes be caused by sudden jarring or stress to the lower back bones or tissues. Lumbar pain can manifest as aching muscles, sharp stabbing pains, restricted mobility and/or range, and inability to stand straight. Sometimes the pain in one area of the body can be caused by an injury or disorder in another. Sometimes, acute low back pain syndromes can become more severe if they are not treated.

Although there are many definitions of chronic back pain, pain that persists for more than 12 weeks is generally considered chronic.

The cause of back problems is often not understood and can sometimes progress. The good news is that most cases can be treated without the need for surgery. Analgesics are used to treat back pain. They can also be used to reduce inflammation and restore proper mobility and strength. There are many back pain products and treatments that can be used to prevent recurrence.

Most patients with lumbar pain are able to recover completely and do not experience any permanent impairment. If the pain persists after three days, it is a good idea to call your GP. There are many therapy products, medications, and therapy tools that can be used to help.

Some of these back pain remedies, such as Magnotherapy and aromatherapy, could be called ‘alternatives’ or pseudoscientific. They have very few scientifically or empirically supported benefits. However, many of them were developed using sound medical principles and theory. It is worth asking your GP about any possible treatments. Also, make sure the cause of the problem is not worse.

Back pain therapy devices PGAT

Inversion tables

Inversion is a natural type of passive gravity assisted traction. It uses the patient’s weight and gravity to decompress any weight-bearing joints. The patient is suspended and rotated, and gravity creates traction. This allows for a customized stretch of the spine that extends from the sacroiliac to cervical joints. This increases the space between vertebrae and relieves pressure on the nerve roots and discs. This reduces interference with the spine nerves, which can result in lower lumbar pain. An effective treatment is inversion. This is usually done on an inversion table.

You can lie down on the table with your back straightened, or in an inverted position. Depending on how far back your body is, this position can reduce or eliminate gravitational compression. Inversion therapy can relieve back pain. It works best when used as part of a comprehensive therapy plan that targets specific muscle imbalances. It is also highly effective by itself. Newcastle University recently found that inversion therapy was able to cancel back surgery appointments for over 70% of patients.

CPM Mobilisers

Backlife

Backlife uses a Continuous Passive Movement to relieve lower back pain. This is similar to what a healthcare professional would use in his back pain therapy. CPM is applied by the user lying on their back, bending their knees to the upper part of the machine. The upper section of the machine gently rotates the pelvis, allowing the joints and muscles to move. Backlife is a pain relief product that reduces stress and pressure on the lower spine, improves mobility, and provides stability. Regular use of Backlife reduces lumbar pain, improves posture and reduces muscle tension.

Mobilizer back in action

The Back in Action Mobiliser, a powerful medical-grade spinal joint mobilization system, is available for professional or home use to relieve back pain. It is said to be very effective in reducing the symptoms of chronic and long-term musculoskeletal issues. It applies pressure to the muscles on either side of your spine. This mimics a practitioner’s thumbing technique. The system also mobilises the spine and allows you to flex and extend the spine.

The continuous passive motion (CPM), which the mobilise offers, is thought to be beneficial for health and healing. It has been used to treat conditions like lumbago, prolapse/slipped disc, sciatica, scoliosis; whiplash injuries, fibromyalgia, and other disabling conditions. The mobilise has been extensively tested and is endorsed by doctors, making it one of the most highly regarded back pain treatment systems. The only problem is that they are limited in number and expensive, but they can be rented.

Backstretcher

The Backstretcher (also known as the Rolastretcher) provides relief by using a combination massage and stretching movements. It allows the user to move up and down the frame and stretch different areas of the spine. The rollers can also apply pressure (acupressure), to the back muscles on either side of the spine, where dysfunctional trigger point (knots), often occur. It allows back pain sufferers to supplement their treatment with a portable device. The scientific studies of the University of Iowa’s Spine Centre have confirmed its effectiveness.

Flexibak

Flexibak, a back support cradle, is designed to alleviate lower back pain, reduce discomfort, promote relief, and encourage relief. It decompresses key joints to allow natural movement to return to the user. Flexibak was developed by two leading British osteopaths. It is intended to open the lumbar, sacroiliac and other joints and allow natural movement to return as the pressure is released from inflamed muscles.

Back cushions, wedges and support cushions

Back pillows

These soft cushions are made to fit the body of the user and are designed to provide support while maintaining an ergonomic and comfortable position.

Seat wedges

In a passive way, seat wedges offer lumbar pain relief. The seat wedge moves the pelvis forward, which causes the spine to take a more upright position. For car drivers with lumbar pain, seat wedges can be used to orient their backs in more comfortable driving positions. They also work well in sedentary environments where they may need to maintain a suitable posture for long periods of time, such as call centre workers. This is a great option for anyone who sits, particularly PC users. The coccyx wedge, which is a variant of the seat wedge, incorporates a cutaway section to relieve or prevent pressure from the sacrum or the coccyx. This could cause lower back pain or tailbone pain.

Back Braces

These braces are designed to reduce the pain in the lower back and correct bad posture.

TENS units

Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) refers to the application of an electric current by a device to stimulate nerves for therapeutic purposes. This refers to handheld stimulators that are used to treat back pain. The unit is typically connected to the skin with one or more electrodes, or semi-adhesive pads. The first TENS units were developed in the USA to test the tolerance of patients with chronic back pain to electrical stimulation. However, many patients have reported relief from the TENS. After the commercial success of Meditronic’s device, a number of companies started manufacturing TENS units.

TENS is considered a safe, non-invasive nerve stimulation that can reduce acute and chronic pain. There is some controversy about its effectiveness in the treatment of chronic lower back pain. A 2007 Pain Journal article concluded that ENS was effective in treating chronic musculoskeletal pain. However, the journal Neurology recommended against recommending TENS treatment for chronic lower back pain. However, other neurologists from the same journal agreed that TENS can be useful in certain cases. Baxolve sells TENS units that provide immediate relief of lower back pain. They are available at high-street retailers.

Products for back pain relief from heat and cold

Although there is no evidence to support the claims that cold and hot compresses can relieve back pain conditions, some studies have shown that they may be effective in reducing lower back spasms, inflammation and pain. This could lead to better mobility for back pain sufferers. The victim would apply a cold compress (generally ice pack or refrigerant gel), to the area affected by the lower back pain. This could be done immediately after the injury.

It may take up to 20 minutes per day for the compress to work. After a few days, the back pain sufferer will apply heat to the area using a variety heat lamps, heat pads, and heat lamps for short periods. The heat causes blood vessels to dilate, increasing blood flow to the affected tissue and encouraging healing. The effect is similar to a warm bath after exercise. Before you begin any treatment for back pain, it is a good idea to consult your doctor.

Magnet therapy

Magnet therapy is a pseudoscientific alternative to back pain treatment. It uses magnetic fields on the body for back pain relief and healing. However, it has a perceptible, but not fully understood, positive effect on blood oxygen. Although there is no scientific evidence to support the claim that static magnets can relieve pain, it has its roots in Traditional Oriental Medicine (TOM), which dates back more than 2000 years. It’s based on ‘Chi’ or ‘energy flows’ and is instrumental in health, well-being, and magnetic wave therapy being associated with acupuncture and/or acupressure.

It is still viewed with some scepticism because of its apparent biological and physical implausibility. However, therapeutic magnets are licensed in Eastern countries as medical devices. There is evidence that it is starting to gain recognition in the US medical community with a published example of positive research in the MDBR Journal of Rheumatology. This has the downside of not being able to blind test magnets, and any associated ‘placebo’ or Hawthorne effects in test groups. Take a look at the available options, but be skeptical.

Ultraviolet

Ultrasound can be used by physios and other therapists to relieve pain. It is sometimes combined with other treatments such as manipulation, massage and interference (electrotherapy). Ultrasound uses millions of sound waves to penetrate tissue to promote healing of injured or inflamed muscles, tendons, and ligaments. According to some claims, ultrasound can decrease tissue inflammation, stimulate blood flow and promote healing through stimulation of soft tissue. It also aids in the absorption of analgesics and reduces pain. There is still some debate about the effectiveness of lower back pain treatment. This conflict comes with mixed user testimonials and inconclusive meta analyses. See Physical Therapy article Jul 2001, New Zealand Journal of Physiotherapy July 2008

Ultralieve

Ultralieve Pro, a portable medical grade handheld device that can be operated from a mains outlet, is designed to ease pain and promote healing. The device can be used in a simple manner, but it is best to have had previous ultrasound treatment from a physiotherapist or healthcare professional. There is some debate about the effectiveness of this device for back pain relief. Both positive user testimonials and inconclusive meta analyses are proving to be conflicting.

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