Back Pain Relief Imposters
IF IT SOUNDS TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE…
When you’re in pain, you might try just about anything to feel better. Claims of miracle cures that instantly relieve back and neck pain are tempting, but they often fall short of their promises.
Save your money and steer clear of the products featured promising to eliminate your spine-related pain.
Copper bracelets and wristbands have attracted a following of arthritis sufferers because of their perceived ability to reduce joint pain.
The key word here is perceived.
A 2013 study in the UK examining the effects of copper bracelets in patients with rheumatoid arthritis found no difference in pain outcomes between those wearing copper bracelets and those using a placebo.
While the bracelets won’t do you any harm, they’re more for looks than clinical benefit. There’s no solid medical evidence available proving they reduce pain or inflammation.
From magnetic shoe inserts to bandages, magnets have been heavily marketed as a miracle cure to zap away a variety of back pain conditions, including fibromyalgia and arthritis. However, no proof exists to back up magnets’ health claims.
While studies have examined magnets’ impact on pain, the results are mixed—and the quality of some of the research is questionable. Additionally, magnets are not safe for some people, including those who use pacemakers or insulin pumps.
Silver jewelry? Classic. Silver home furnishings? Sure thing. Colloidal silver for your spine pain? Never a good idea.
Colloidal silver for back pain is typically found as a topical cream containing small particles of silver. In 1999, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommended that people not use colloidal silver to treat any medical condition because it’s neither safe nor effective.
Even worse than the false claims of back and neck pain relief are colloidal silver’s strange and serious side effects. This product can interfere with the absorption of some prescription drugs and even permanently tint your skin a blue-gray color.
DMSO AND MSM DIETARY SUPPLEMENTS
If you have spondylosis (osteoarthritis), you may have heard of the dietary supplements dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) and methylsulfonylmethane (MSM). Some believe this pair of supplements can block pain and inflammation, but no real medical evidence shows these substances actually relieve painful arthritis symptoms.
Instead of eliminating your arthritis pain, MSM and DMSO might cause some unwanted side effects. Both have been linked to causing upset stomach and skin rashes, while DMSO may also leave you with garlic breath and body odor.
A WORD ON DRUG-SUPPLEMENT INTERACTIONS
Speaking of supplements, it’s important to understand that dietary supplements may not mix with over-the-counter or prescription drugs. Some interactions result in mild side effects, but others can be much more serious—even life-threatening.
If you’re using a dietary supplement—even if it’s a seemingly benign herbal or vitamin—always let your doctor and pharmacist know before taking it with an over-the-counter or prescription medication. They will share any dangerous interactions, and ensure you’re safely addressing your back and neck pain.
THE REAL DEALS: ALTERNATIVE TREATMENTS THAT WORK
Many who fall prey to the products listed in this slideshow have an interest in alternative or complementary therapies for back and neck pain. While some non-traditional treatments should be avoided, many have been proven to reduce spine pain.
Scientists from the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health at the National Institutes of Health reviewed 105 U.S.-based trials from the past 50 years that included more than 16,000 participants. They found the therapies below effective at controlling pain:
• Acupuncture • Massage • Relaxation techniques • Tai chi
If you prefer alternative methods to manage for your spinal condition, explore the therapies above. They are effective, safe, and will help you live a healthier life.
Claims of miracle cures that instantly relieve back and neck pain are tempting, but they often fall short of their promises.
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Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, CCST, IFMCP*, CIFM*, ATN*
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Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, CIFM*, IFMCP*, ATN*, CCST
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