#15-03 Mt. Elizabeth Medical Centre
3 Mt. Elizabeth, Singapore 228510


Back Pain Relief Without Pain Killers

Back pain; including neck pain, mid back and low back pain is an increasing problem in our modern world. This is a byproduct of our 21st Century lifestyle with too many hours of sitting and computer/smartphone/tablet use in a day, states Dr. Prem Pillay, a Spine Specialist based in Singapore. For others, back pain is from a sports injury or an accident.

It is normal for those who suffer from back pain to take pain killers. These range from panadol, to NSAIDS: Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (ibuprofen, voltaren, arcoxia, celebrex, etc.). The stronger pain killers are based on narcotics and include codeine, morphine and tramadol. Unfortunately, it is not a good plan to depend on pain relief by taking these medications for too long. Side effects and dependence may occur. NSAIDs are associated with gastritis, esophagitis and gastriculcers and bleeding.

Alternatives to pain killers are present in our modern world. It is important though, cautions Dr. Prem Pillay, for those with persistent pain to seek proper medical advice. If physical therapy such as massage, traditional manipulation or treatments are tried and pain relief does not occur satisfactorily by three sessions, you should see a specialist dealing with that problem. For instance, if back pain is troubling and persists see a medically trained spine specialist. The application of the principles of RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) can be used for acute injuries causing pain. For more persistent pain, the use of heat from hot pads and even a hot shower or bath or a hot sauna can relieve pain. In ancient times people traveled to hot springs to relieve their body aches and pains!

There are several types of foods that can reduce inflammation or swelling and relieve pain. Ginger has been known for thousands of years as useful for its anti-inflammatory properties. Sage is a herb with anti-inflammatory action as it contains flavonoids. Both ginger and sage can be used in cooking as in the preparation of a chicken dish! One cup of Black coffee in the morning can reduce pain, including headaches. It is rich in anti-oxidants. Tea including green tea is also rich in anti-inflammatory substances including anti-oxidants that can reduce pain. Fish, especially salmon, is rich in omega-3 which can fight inflammation and help with the joints. In general, colorful fruits and plants are more likely to have natural biochemical agents that can reduce pain. This includes cherries, carrots and beetroot. This is not an exhaustive list of foods. There are many others as well as herbs that are helpful. Drinking plenty of water, for example, will hydrate the body including the muscles and reduce muscle tension, states Dr. Prem Pillay. This can reduce neck pain and back pain.

Removing bad habits can also reduce pain, states Dr. Prem Pillay. Smoking can make chronic pains, including back pain, worse. For those who have had spine procedures, smoking can obstruct a good recovery by slowing bone and tissue healing. Lack of sleep is also a factor that if corrected can help with pain. A restful 7-9 hours of sleep can reduce pain the next day. Losing weight can reduce stress on the back. A healthy diet with the adequate right exercises not only can help with weight reduction but can also help strengthen postural and core muscles that support the spine, explains Dr. Prem Pillay, a Spine Specialist.

Stress is especially common in our modern lives and is an important factor to control to reduce pain. Having a positive outlook, adequate sleep and regular exercise can reduce stress. Even the action of laughing can be positive. There are laughter clubs (first started in India) where people meet and just practice laughing. Being with friends who can make us happy and laugh is perhaps a simpler alternative. Meditation can also reduce stress. It can be done in a non religious way by finding a quiet place, closing your eyes and thinking of a simple pleasant experience. Or by visualizing a point of light like a candle and trying not to let random thoughts interfere.

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