Massage Massage can be a great help with acute and chronic lower back and hip pain in various ways. Massage induces deep relaxation, reducing tension in the affected muscles. Massage increases endorphin levels, endorphins are the body's natural painkillers. Massage helps to increase the circulation of the blood in the affected area which again helps to reduce pain. There are many schools of massage therapy from Swedish massage to shiatsu and they are all effective to varying degrees. My personal favourite and the one I find most effective is Chinese energy massage (an mo). However any form of massage will help with the pain, get a friend or partner and some walnut or grape seed oil, get them to massage gently down the back and sides of the body towards the feet. Avoid massaging the spine directly. Massage Chairs Massage chairs have improved beyond recognition in the last few years, manufacturers like Sanyo, Panasonic and Human Touch have created chairs which can perform various massage techniques such as percussion, kneading and grasping, shiatsu and vibration, many come with heating integrated which can be of extra benefit to those suffering from back pain. After even a short session in a good quality chair you'll feel like you are floating on air. Acupressure and Acupuncture
Acupuncture can be very effective for treating lower back pain. However in my experience finding a practitioner who fully understands the principles can be difficult. Many practitioners of acupuncture and acupressure (especially western doctors who have added acupuncture to their resume) have learnt it by rote, relying on a chart and a list of symptoms to apply the needles whilst not understanding the underlying principles. There are Chinese Medical Centres in the major cities of most countries using these or practitioners who had been personally recommended to you may be the best way to proceed. A simple technique which can be very effective and easily done by a friend or partner is to apply pressure to an acupuncture point found at the base of the buttock at the centre of the back of the leg (see illustration below). A knot or lump will often be found at this point and applying gentle yet firm pressure for five minutes every day will greatly increase the circulation in the lower back muscles and reduce pain. Salves and Balms here are many proprietary salves and balms available on the market. Most of these work as counter-irritants, the main active ingredient is usually some form of Menthol (extracted from mint or synthesised) or Capsasin (extracted from chilli). These work by irritating the skin surface and thereby increasing the circulation to the underlying areas. They can be quite effective in reducing lower back pain but avoid overuse and do not use just before bed if you are sensitive to them, as they can have a stimulating effect on the body. Tiger balm, Icy Hot, and the Chinese tincture Zheng Gu Shiu are all inexpensive and effective. Hot and Cold Packs Another good method is to alternate mild heat and cold on the affected area. Gel packs which can be heated or cooled are inexpensive and easy to use. Heat one pad as recommended by the instructions and cool the other in the fridge or freezer. First apply the cool pack to the painful area of the lower back for two or three minutes then replace it with the hot pack for a further two or three minutes. Repeat this procedure three or four times. This will increase the circulation to the area and reduce the pain. Good shoes An important aspect of reducing lower back and hip pain that is often overlooked is making sure that you have good shoes. Wearing high heels or ill fitting shoes can quickly cause back pain. Lose Weight Another factor in lower back and hip pain can be excess weight. If you are overweight for your height this can contribute to back pain. Obesity is a growing problem in the world and amongst the many health hazards that it can cause, back pain is often forgotten. Losing a few pounds might well contribute to reducing the pressure on your back and hips thereby reducing the pain. Exercise
Exercise is also important in preventing back pain. People suffering from back pain often avoid exercise but simple stretching exercises or yoga can greatly contribute to reducing the pain. Consult your doctor before beginning any new exercise regime.
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