80% of Americans either currently suffer from back pain or will fall victim to it sometime in their lives. With numbers at epidemic levels, you can be sure that the market is full of gadgets, prescription drugs, holistic therapies and other products that claim to be panaceas. This has prompted one leading expert to weigh in on which ones may hold true therapeutic value and which to steer clear of.
Board-certified orthopaedic spine surgeon Hooman Melamed, M.D., a go-to authority on matters relating to back pain for “The Doctors,” “Dr. Oz,” “Fox & Friends,” and many other media outlets, says that those seeking pain relief should carefully research the product in question and consult with their family physician or orthopaedic specialist before making a purchase.
Melamed weighs into some of the newest and most popular back pain relief products:
· Copper Fit Compression Back Support ($12 - $30) – While most compression braces resembling this product offer some back pain relief, there is no evidence to support the claim that copper, when rubbed against the skin, can somehow alleviate pain. VERDICT: NO
· Trigger Point Therapy Self Massage Tool ($60) – This S-shaped handheld tool claims to relieve muscle tension and stress through self-massage. You can achieve the same deep tissue massage using a tennis ball or foam roller. VERDICT: NO
· Plexus Wheel Sport ($100) – These padded wheel devices that come in 3 sizes are intended to help you stretch and dig deep into your muscles for pain relief. It’s more effective to properly stretch your muscles without any apparatus and, again, the deep muscle massage can be achieved using a tennis ball or foam roller. VERDICT: NO
· Natural Pain Relief Products ($20 - $90) -- Non-prescriptive pain relief products can be effective. check label for ingredients like Arnica, Boswellia Serrata and Cetyl Myristoleate. Bear in mind, frequent use can cause diarrhea, nausea and stomach pain. VERDICT: YES (but understand the side effects)
· Acupressure Mat ($18 – $70) -- Acupressure mats have small raised plastic points that are intended to increase circulation, relax stiff muscles and decrease pain. Mats like these offer very mild relief if any. Actual acupuncture and massage are better alternatives though the cost is greater. VERDICT: NO
· Inversion Therapy Table ($70 - $120) – Those with back pain, scoliosis or and sciatica often find relief with inversion tables. They decompress the spine by reversing the effects of gravity through natural force. Make sure the product is sturdy enough for you. This is not a good option for those with high blood pressure, heart disease or hernias so ask your family physician just in case for possible other reasons not to do this. VERDICT: YES
· TENS devices ($20-$40) – Deliver electrical nerve stimulation to points of pain in the back. While they can relieve aching muscles due to strain or normal day-to-day activities, they aren't effective for more serious conditions like slipped discs or stenosis. VERDICT: YES (for mild to moderate back pain)
Inducted into the “Leading Physicians in the World,” and Castle Connolly "Top Doctor," Melamed specializes in minimally invasive spine surgery and treats a wide range of conditions. He is co-director of the spinal surgery program at D.I.S.C. Sports & Spine Center in Marina del Rey and Director of Scoliosis at Cedars Sinai Marina Del Rey Hospital, and lectures worldwide before colleagues in his field, has published numerous research papers in prestigious medical journals and shared his expertise as a guest on national and local media. His nonprofit, “Back To You,” has helped treat those who do not have the resources or health insurance. For more information, visit www.thespinepro.com or call (310) 574-0405.
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