2005-01-21 / Columnists

Health & Harmony

CAM For Back Pain
By Dr. Nancy Gahles


DR. nancy gahlesDR. nancy gahles A recent study in the British Medical Journal showed that spinal manipulation followed by exercise yielded the greatest improvement in back pain. This combination of treatments also saw improvements in the disability and pain scores, back pain beliefs, fear-avoidance beliefs and improvement in mental health scores. Another paper published on the BMJ website examined the cost-effectiveness of adding manipulation, exercise or both to the usual “best care” practice for back pain. The conclusion was that “manipulation alone probably gives better value for the money than manipulation followed by exercise.”

Dynamic Chiropractic reports, “together these papers provide new evidence that manipulation of the spine, either alone or in conjunction with an exercise program, is an efficacious and cost-effective form of care for people suffering from low back pain.”

Spinal manipulation and exercise provides the powerful combination of freedom of movement within the context of balance and direction. Add to this the practice of specific yoga postures and the flexibility factor increases.

The key to management of back pain has always been a multi-modal approach. Every person is unique and their back pain and it’s inherent provocations have to be addressed individually. Thus the CAM approach.

The sedentary nature of our lives has lent itself to less movement and hence more fixation of joints and weakness of muscles. Inflammation is a natural consequence. The leading anti-inflammatory drugs like Vioxx and Celebrex are not available leading us to consider the alternatives. The anti-inflammatory protocol that I use in supporting the chiropractic manipulation and in pain management works quite well in most cases. Turmeric, ginger, garlic, bioflavinoids, Ester-C and bromelain are powerful anti-inflammatories and have anti-oxidant properties as well. Different types of inflammation and varying phases of tissue repair require individual assessment. These are effective when used in the dosage and within the treatment protocol designed by your Doctor of Chiropractic.

Back pain that does not resolve with conservative management within a reasonable time period may need a constitutional homeopathic remedy. Your Doctor of Chiropractic will be able to refer you to a qualified Classical Homeopath or you can find one at www.homeopathic.org.

Mind/body intervention in the form of meditation, guided imagery and visualization are fast becoming top on the list of home remedies that reduce stress and enhance well-being and are certainly cost effective.

Last but surely not least, indeed, it may be first, is prayer. NCCAM studies showed that 67% of people who use CAM modalities rely on prayer in some form to ease their pain. When you do not have an organized religion that you ascribe to, I have found that communing with nature in any way works well to put you in a higher state of consciousness. Being blessed to live on this peninsula provides us with easy access to a walk on the beach or in the nature preserve.

Focused stillness. Silence. Listening to the small voice within. The seeds of the solution lie within each problem. All the answers are within. It’s a matter of being courageous enough to look at what’s there. To be present. That implies purpose, intent. The desire to be well. “Prudence”, says C.S. Lewis, “means practical common sense. Taking the trouble to think out what you are doing and what is likely to come of it.” Prudence is a virtue that is in short supply today. We are in the era of No Time. Quick fixes.

The path to wellness is hard work and it takes commitment on your part and personal responsibility. Find the right practitioner to work with you, like a guide in unfamiliar territory offering support and accountability. You don’t have to go it alone. Use the gift of discernment, the divine ability to see what is actually going on and to know what really needs to be done in any given situation.

Find the key, open the door and walk out into the Light. Into freedom.

Freedom of movement within the context of balance and direction.

May The Blessings Be!

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