Back pain: we’ve almost all had it at some point, and everyone knows that sinking feeling when you realize you’re going to be in pain and with limited movement for a while. Statistics suggest that 80% of people worldwide will experience lower back pain in their lifetime, lasting for anything from a few days to several months . 8% of us will go on to develop chronic back pain which is bad enough to limit our day to day activities  – intensely physically debilitating but also psychologically distressing.
The normal treatment for back pain in our mainstream healthcare systems ranges from nothing at all – the go away and put it with it model – to the use of opioid painkillers, physical therapy (physiotherapy, chiropractic, osteopathy) and self-help stretches. Sometimes people are offered cognitive behavioural therapy to help deal with the psychological effects of the pain. Surgery is sometimes an option if the pain has a specific, identifiable cause. However, the efficacy of all of these interventions is questionable in the long term, not to mention that they are economically expensive and, in the case of drug interventions, potentially harmful.
However, a new review has highlighted how “movement-based mind-body interventions”, such as yoga, tai chi and qigong, can be effective treatments for back pain. Yoga is popular worldwide for its physical and mental health benefits, while tai chi combines gentle exercise with mindfulness. Qigong blends slow movements with body awareness. The review, carried out by Florida Atlantic University and the Lynn College of Nursing, has been published in Holistic Nursing Practice, and calls for more research into this potentially promising area .