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10 ways to treat back pain without surgery

Spinal manipulation, or chiropractic manipulation, involves using the hands to adjust, massage, or stimulate the spine.

The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH)Trusted Source state that some studies have shown that spinal manipulation may help with low back pain.

However, spinal manipulation is not safe for everyone, including people who have osteoporosis, arthritis, or spinal cord problems.

Only a trained and licensed provider should perform these treatments. People who can perform these techniques include:

  • licensed chiropractors
  • physical therapists
  • osteopathic doctors
  • some medical doctors

When a trained specialist performs spinal manipulation, serious side effects are rare. Any minor side effects, such as discomfort in the area, will usually resolve within 1–2 days.

2. Acupuncture

Acupuncture is a Traditional Chinese Medicine practice. An acupuncture practitioner inserts thin needles into specific points on the body. People use acupuncture for a variety of ailments, from chronic diseases to chronic pain.

An overview of systematic reviews states that acupuncture may help restore function and relieve pain in some people who have chronic low back pain. A meta-analysis also found that acupuncture provides relief for chronic pain that may continue to work well over time.

3. Weight loss

The back muscles, bones, and joints work hard to support the body as a person moves, sits, and stands. Being overweight can cause back pain due to increased pressure on the spine and strain of the back muscles. One study foundTrusted Source that obesity has links to high levels of low back pain and disability in men.

Losing weight could help alleviate some or all of a person’s back pain if weight is a contributing factor. If a person is overweight, they may wish to work with their doctor to find ways to lose weight.

4. Anti-inflammatory diet

Studies have shown that higher levels of inflammation have a close connection to certain types of chronic pain. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen and naproxen, work well for some types of pain.

Inflammation has many causes. One way to help lower inflammation in the body is to follow an anti-inflammatory diet.

Evidence suggests that some foods, especially sugary and processed foods, can make inflammation worse. Research suggests that certain foods can help lower inflammation in the body, including:

  • vegetables
  • fruits
  • nuts
  • fish
  • whole grains

Similarly, studies show that processed foods and sugar can promote inflammation, which could make the pain worse. People with back pain may wish to try focusing on whole foods and avoiding processed foods, trans fats, and sugar.

5. Correcting posture


Although back pain affects many thousands of people, doctors do not follow a set “standard” for deciding whether surgery is necessary for back pain. If home remedies, medication, and noninvasive treatments have not helped, and back pain is interfering with life, a person may wish to discuss surgical options with their doctor.

Surgery does not necessarily correct all types of back pain. It can help with back pain that is caused by particular physical issues in the spine. It may help people who have a bone spur, a bulging or ruptured disk, a spinal issue, or a nerve that is under pressure.

If other issues are causing back pain, surgery may not be an appropriate treatment.


Often, back pain is a result of a minor injury or overuse of the back muscles. This will usually get better over time and heal faster with treatment. If a person has back pain as well as other symptoms, such as fever, numbness, foot drop, or if it occurs after an accident, see a doctor.

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