Are you having back pain with any of the following?

  • Severe pain, weakness or tingling in your leg(s).
  • Difficulty stopping urination or loss of control of bladder or bowels.
  • Unexplained fever, nausea or vomiting.
  • A history of cancer or unexplained weight loss.

We understand that you are experiencing one or more of the health issues that might be impacting your back pain.

We recommend that you discuss these health issues with your doctor before proceeding with this program.

Once you are cleared by your doctor to do this program, we hope it helps you find relief from your back pain.

Content loading spinner

Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM)

Some people prefer treatment options that complement traditional medicine such as acupuncture or herbal supplements that can help you stay healthy, feel better, and manage medical problems safely. To ensure the best possible treatment, please talk to us about your options.


There is a strong link between your thoughts and feelings and your physical and emotional health. Both pleasant and unpleasant thoughts can affect your body. Becoming aware of how your thoughts affect you is a powerful step toward improving your health. Approximately 18 percent of Kaiser Permanente members report using at least one mind-body medicine practice.

What is mind-body medicine?

Mind-body medicine means paying attention to your experience in the present moment, without judgment. Your active participation is what makes mind-body medicine effective. Like other patient-centered means of healing, the more time you devote to your practice, the more benefit you can receive. There are many practices in mind-body medicine including:

  • Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR)
  • Deep breathing
  • Guided imagery
  • Laughter
  • Healthy communication
  • Changing thought patterns and moods
  • Mindful eating

While there are many similarities between medications and mind-body approaches, mind-body practices offer some major advantages such as:

  • Fewer side effects and adverse reactions.
  • Improved sense of overall well-being.
  • Low-cost or free instruction or no cost to practice.
  • Longer lasting benefits than medications may provide.
  • Taking a more active role in your own health.

Mind-body medicine techniques are most effective when used to prevent symptoms and disease.

You don't have to choose between medications or mind-body medicine. You can use either one, or both. In fact, mind-body techniques can enhance the effectiveness of appropriate medications and other medical treatment.

Health Benefits

Mind-body medicine is an effective way to manage a variety of symptoms including stress, anxiety, and pain. Mind-body programs can also help prevent disease, speed recovery from illness, improve your sense of well-being, and may even extend your life.  It’s important to remember that unlike medication, where your symptoms might improve after taking a single dose, the benefits of mind-body medicine are greatest when you use these practices regularly.

These practices can help decrease symptoms of:

  • Anxiety and stress
  • Depression or future depression
  • Chronic pain
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Pain from medical or dental procedures

 These practices can help improve:

  • Communication with others
  • Labor and/or discomfort with childbirth
  • Ability to deal with anger and other strong emotions
  • Sleep and health problems related to sleep loss
  • Recovery time from surgery
  • Self-confidence
  • Quality of life among patients with diabetes, asthma, and other chronic  conditions.
  • Chance of quitting smoking or drinking

Relaxation and Stress Relief

Everyone responds differently to the causes of positive and negative stress. Just as there are many types of stress, there are also many ways to relax.

Most of us react to stress with both our bodies and minds. Notice the type of tension you feel and match your relaxation strategy to it. This will help you relax more easily.

There are 2 primary modes of reacting, although you may experience both of these at different times. 

Body reactors are people who tend to experience stress more in their bodies. These people may have:

  • Shakiness or the jitters
  • Tight muscles, aches, and pains
  • A nervous stomach
  • A racing heartbeat

For body tension, you might try muscle relaxation, walking, deep breathing, or a hot bath or sauna.

Mind reactors are people who tend to suffer from:

  • Excessive worry
  • Anxiety-provoking images
  • A racing mind
  • Difficulty concentrating

If this kind of worry and mental fatigue is your problem, you might try:

  • Meditation
  • Visualization and imagery
  • Watching non-violent movies or TV
  • Listening to music
  • Reading
  • A hobby or game

Whether you're dealing with mind or body stress, you can experiment to find what works best for you and be sure to balance the stresses of your life with leisure activities you enjoy.

Guided Imagery

Guided imagery is a type of relaxation that uses your imagination and relaxation to create calming, energizing, or healing responses in your body. Relaxation and imagery can help you:

  • Reduce anxiety, fear, and panic
  • Decrease chronic tension
  • Decrease pain and the need for pain medications
  • Reduce stress-related hypertension
  • Decrease heart disease risk
  • Improve comfort during medical, surgical, and dental procedures
  • Reduce the discomfort of childbirth
  • Speed recovery from surgery, injury, or skin problems (such as warts or psoriasis)
  • Boost immune function
  • Improve chronic disease management

You can do imagery on your own and you do not need any special equipment. It's free, and it can be done anywhere, at any time.

Deep Breathing

There is a strong connection between your breathing and emotions. Changing your breathing can help you:

  • Improve your mood
  • Let go of stress and worry
  • Focus quietly on the present moment
  • Calm your mind and relax

Most of the time we take our breathing for granted. But becoming aware of the link between your breathing and your emotional state can help put you more in control. Follow these steps:

  • Make a tight fist or pinch your leg hard enough to cause mild pain. Observe what happens to your breathing. Does your breathing stop or become shallow?
  • Relax for a moment. Make another tight fist or pinch yourself again, but this time, continue to breathe slowly and deeply. What happens to the tension in your fist or to your sensation of pain? With slow, deep breathing, it should be reduced.

Breathing in a relaxed way helps reduce tension, pain, anxiety, or anger. When you feel stressed or in a bad mood, notice your breathing. Awareness and control of your breathing can be a powerful way to gain control over stress and emotions.

Healthy Thinking

Optimism and pessimism are learned habits. Changing how you think and talk can improve your physical and emotional well-being. Deliberately creating a positive outlook has many benefits:

  • Improving your mood and self-esteem
  • Decreasing depression, anxiety, and hostility
  • Decreasing pain and other bodily symptoms
  • Speeding recovery from surgery
  • Enhancing your immune function
  • Possibly extending your life
  • Improving relationships with family and friends

Improving mood and overall happiness

Want to improve your mood and overall happiness? Try one of these techniques:

  • Make a list of 5 things that happened during the week that you are grateful for.
  • Pick 1 day a week and go out of your way to perform 5 acts of kindness to other people, animals, or the environment.
  • When you feel stressed about something, ask yourself "How important will this be in 1 hour, 1 day, and 1 year?"
  • When you’re angry, ask yourself "Is this important enough to get really angry about, and will getting angry make a difference?"

Using these simple techniques or asking yourself these simple questions is often enough to shift your perspective and lighten your mood.

Laughter as Medicine

Laughter is not only enjoyable, it is good for you. It improves your mood by releasing tension. There is nothing like a great laugh to sweep away the stress of daily life.

There are many benefits to enjoying humor and laughter regularly. You may experience:

  • Improved sense of well-being
  • Ease in social interactions
  • Decreased anxiety, tension, depression, anger, and hostility
  • Decreased stress levels
  • Decreased pain

In addition, laughter provides exercise for your heart and cardiovascular system.

Unhealthy humor

Not all humor is positive and healthful. Watch out for the following kinds of negative humor and avoid them:

  • Scorn
  • Sarcasm
  • Ridicule or teasing others
  • Contempt

These can create hostile, cynical, and resentful feelings and are harmful to others.

Related Health Tools:


See more Health Tools »

If you have an emergency medical condition, call 911 or go to the nearest hospital. An emergency medical condition is any of the following: (1) a medical condition that manifests itself by acute symptoms of sufficient severity (including severe pain) such that you could reasonably expect the absence of immediate medical attention to result in serious jeopardy to your health or body functions or organs; (2) active labor when there isn't enough time for safe transfer to a Plan hospital (or designated hospital) before delivery, or if transfer poses a threat to your (or your unborn child's) health and safety, or (3) a mental disorder that manifests itself by acute symptoms of sufficient severity such that either you are an immediate danger to yourself or others, or you are not immediately able to provide for, or use, food, shelter, or clothing, due to the mental disorder. This information is not intended to diagnose health problems or to take the place of specific medical advice or care you receive from your physician or other health care professional. If you have persistent health problems, or if you have additional questions, please consult with your doctor. If you have questions or need more information about your medication, please speak to your pharmacist. Kaiser Permanente does not endorse the medications or products mentioned. Any trade names listed are for easy identification only.

Content loading spinner