Lower back pain will afflict almost two out of three people in their lifetime. As Bupa explains, the cause isn’t normally serious and most of the time the pain improves within four to six weeks. But for some people, it can continue for months or even years.
If more than six weeks has elapsed since you first developed lower back pain and you’re still experiencing discomfort, it is worth seeking out more specialised solutions.
A lesser-known approach to lower back pain relief is to take herbal supplements.
Herbal medicines are widely used for the treatment of pain, although there is often a scarcity of research supporting their efficacy.
Research supporting the use of willow bark extract bucks this trend, however.
Willow bark – the bark of several varieties of willow tree – has been used for centuries as a pain reliever.
A study published in The American Journal of Medicine sought to evaluate the effectiveness of willow bark extract for treating back pain.
Researchers enrolled 210 patients with an exacerbation of chronic low back pain who reported current pain of five or more (out of 10) on a visual analog scale (VAS).
The VAS is a validated, subjective measure for acute and chronic pain.
Scores are recorded by making a handwritten mark on a 10-cm line that represents a continuum between “no pain” and “worst pain.”
They were randomly assigned to receive an oral willow bark extract with either 120 mg (low dose) or 240 mg (high dose) of salicin, or placebo, with tramadol (a strong painkiller) as the sole rescue medication, in a four-week blinded trial.
Salicin is the active ingredient in willow bark that is thought to be responsible for its pain-relieving effect.
To gauge the effectiveness of willow bark extract, researchers assessed the proportion of patients who were pain-free without tramadol for at least five days during the final week of the study.
By the end of the study, significantly more patients in the placebo group required tramadol during each week of the study.
This finding suggests that willow bark extract provides pain relief for lower back pain.
There are a host of self-help measures you can adopt that may provide lower back pain relief.
According to Bupa, one key tip is to try and avoid sitting for long periods.
“Doctors used to advise bed rest, but now we know this can make back pain worse,” warns Bupa.
“You may want to try applying heat or cold treatments to your back. Don’t put ice directly on your skin,” advises the health body.
If you sleep on your side, you may find it helps to sleep with a small cushion between your knees, it adds.
Other key tips include:
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