Many veterans deal with back pain on a daily basis. Whether the problem is caused by injury, or from carrying a heavy pack while hiking, the result can be life-long suffering.  Now there is new evidence that physical therapy, spinal manipulation and yoga can be as helpful as surgery or drugs, while posing far fewer risks.  In a Consumer Reports survey, 3,562 individuals with back pain were surveyed, with 80% of those who had tried yoga, tai chi, massage therapy, chiropractic intervention, or physical therapy finding the treatment helped reduce their pain.

In the past, these types of treatments were considered fluff in comparison to conventional treatment which usually consisted of drugs to mask the pain or surgery. Now, it is evident that a combination of supportive alternative therapies can be just as effective.  Tai chi and physical therapy strengthens muscles that support the back, while improving balance and flexibility.  Chiropractic intervention can realign the spine and improve posture and balance as well.  Massage therapy helps muscles relax, and reduces inflammation.  A combination of these alternative therapies can bring relief when traditional methods fail.

In the past, alternative therapies were not regarded as viable treatment options. Now they are taking their place as legitimate treatments and are being recognized by medical professionals as valued forms of treatment.

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A REAL PAIN IN THE BACK!

Even if you haven’t already, sooner or later it’s likely you are going to experience some back pain. I’ve had two terrible times in my life when I hurt my back and I’ll never forget them; I hurt so badly I couldn’t get my shoes on! It’s left me with a lot of sympathy for people that have long term back pain. Unfortunately, with hiking while carrying huge packs and equipment and all the ways that serving in the military requires lifting, toting, twisting, bending, etc., many veterans have back pain too.

In most cases, back pain isn’t that serious and there are things you can do to help the problem. However, since it can be the result of a slipped disc or other more serious problems, make sure you talk to your doctor first before trying any self-care. You also may want to look at your posture since it can have a big effect on back pain.

If you have an event which leaves you with a sore back, take some time off and pamper yourself – you’ll be glad in the long run that you did. Use ice for the first few days after a back strain, then switch to heat. Once healing begins, you may want to look at losing some weight and beginning some exercises to strengthen the muscles that hold your spine in place. That’s a great preventative for future pain.

If your pain continues, is stabbing, or produces numbness in your leg, call your healthcare provider. This may indicate a more serious problem. Most back pain can be managed though and over time can be prevented.