There isn't a lot of research on the Alexander technique, but one study published in the journal BMJ showed that people given one-on-one training in the technique reduced their back pain. "This is an effective technique to improve pain and function in the long term," one of the study's authors, Paul Little, PhD, professor of primary care research at the University of Southampton in England, told WebMD in an email. But "it's not a magic bullet. It requires time and application."
Biofeedback. This high-tech treatment can help you learn to loosen tight muscles by using your mind to control your body. To learn biofeedback, sensors are applied to your body that give continuous feedback about body functions such as heart rate, breathing, blood pressure, muscle tension, and brain wave activity. A biofeedback therapist teaches you relaxation techniques so you can see how to control a specific body function. As you become aware of the connection between the mind and the body, you may be able to reduce muscle tension and relieve pain.
Although there’s no compelling evidence to show that biofeedback works specifically for chronic back pain, there is evidence that it can ease chronic pain generally. It’s worth a try, Cherkin says.
Chiropractic. Chiropractic’s signature treatment, spinal manipulation, may help relieve back pain. The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine reports that spinal manipulation “appears to be as effective as conventional treatments.”
“We don’t know what’s going on in the body [during spinal manipulation],” says William C. Meeker, DC, president of Palmer College of Chiropractic in San Jose, Calif. “But we know that it alleviates sensations of pain and soreness and increases joint mobility.”
During your first visit, the chiropractor will usually take a medical history and do a physical exam that focuses closely on the spine. In subsequent visits, the chiropractor will use twisting, pulling, or pushing movements to adjust the bones and joints in your spine. The chiropractor may also use heat, electrical stimulation, or ultrasound to relax your muscles.
Physical therapists, osteopaths, and even some conventional medical doctors use spinal manipulation, too. Health insurance plans often cover the cost of chiropractic care.