There are few things in life more uncomfortable than having to deal with back pain. Regardless of if this is a chronic condition or something that comes on suddenly, you will want to find relief quickly once the pain and discomfort sets in. Here are five tips for back pain relief.
Try Preventative Measures
The best way to relieve back pain is to stop it before it starts. This means that you need to practice the proper preventative measures. This starts with choosing a bed and pillow that promotes sleep and comfort. Some people find relief from back pain by laying on their sides and placing a pillow between the knees so that the spine is in a neutral position. It is also vital to choose a comfortably firm mattress.
Another good preventative measure is to watch your posture. Poor posture can exacerbate back pain, particularly if you are sitting for long periods of time. You want to sit upright with your shoulders relaxed. If you are sitting at a desk, be intentional about not slumping over the keyboard. You will also promote better posture if you keep your feet on the floor.
Over-the-Counter Pain Relievers
Over-the-counter pain relievers should be sufficient in relieving minor back pain and discomfort. Good choices include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and acetaminophen. These types of medications work by reducing the overproduction of chemicals known as prostaglandins, helping to mitigate inflammation and pain.
It is always a good idea to talk to your health care provider before using these as a long-term solution. The relief may also start to wear off after some time and become less effective, necessitating that you combine their use with other types of treatments. Your doctor may also be able to prescribe a stronger prescription medication if needed.
Unless your pain is severe, it may be that you need to get moving in order to find relief from your backaches. While it used to be that doctors would prescribe bed rest to treat back pain, new research shows that lying still may be one of the worst courses of action.
Instead, you want to get up and get moving to the best of your ability. Exercise has been proven to be one of the most effective techniques when looking to heal an acute back injury. However, it is important to start slowly. Good choices include low-impact exercises such as swimming, walking, yoga, and gentle stretching motions.
Alternate Ice and Heat
Many back pain sufferers find significant relief by using heat or ice in an effort to reduce discomfort and inflammation. It is generally most effective to start with an ice treatment for acute injuries. Cold therapy works by lowering the body temperature so that blood vessels constrict. This will also reduce swelling and lead to a numbing effect. Be sure to wrap the ice pack in a towel so that you protect the skin.
After a few days of using ice to reduce the inflammation, you can switch to heat to help to relieve the discomfort. You can use either a heating pad or a warm pack to help to relax the muscles and stimulate blood flow. Warm baths may also provide relief to aching back muscles.
Speak with a Physician About Surgical Options
If all of these home remedies are not doing the job for you, it may be time to consider surgery. A surgical procedure may be particularly helpful if you are battling sciatica pain. This type of pain is distinguished by discomfort that happens along the sciatic nerve, stretching from the lower back through the hips, buttocks, and into each leg. The pain usually happens when the sciatic nerve is compressed and generally only affects one side of the body.
Your doctor may recommend surgery if all non-invasive treatments have been exhausted. Surgical treatments include a discectomy or laminectomy. During these types of procedures, the surgeon removes the section of bone or a disc that is compressing the nerve and causing the pain.
You do not have to live with back pain. With so many treatment options available, you can find the best choice for your specific health needs and situation.