Top Tips for Back Pain Relief
If you are reading this article, you or your loved one is likely one of the eight out of every ten people affected by back pain. As debilitating as back pain can be, there are options out there for relief. Read below to learn how you may relieve back pain and regain your quality of life.
Applying Heat and Cold
As a short term solution, applying heat and cold can be highly effective strategy to ease an aching back. Heat application, also known as thermotherapy, is deal for chronic back pain, while icing, or cryotherapy, is best used for reducing inflammation in fresh injuries. Research has consistently demonstrated that low level heat, or heat kept at 104 degrees Fahrenheit applied for up to eight hours a day with heating pads or disposable wearable heat packs can be more effective than drugs such as ibuprofen. Soaking in a hot tub or warm pool can be a useful option for distributing heat all over the body.
Does your back pain result from a recent injury? Cold therapy can be beneficial for treating inflamed, damaged superficial tissues. It is recommended that icing be constrained to the first 24 to 48 hours after an injury occurs and cold packs be applied for no more than 15 to 20 minutes at a time to avoid damaging the tissue of the skin.
While back pain can certainly knock you off your feet for a while, keeping your back immobile for the length of your recovery is no longer recommended by doctors. Gentle movements as tolerated such as stretching and light walking can help improve blood flow to injured areas, increasing the healing response of the body.
Limit Sedentary Behaviors
Does your job require you to sit behind a desk for hours at a time? How many hours a day do you spend behind the wheel of your car? An increasing body of evidence demonstrates the dangers of long periods of sedentary behavior. Prolonged periods of sitting, especially with poor posture, mean your core and your glutes remain inactive throughout the day. This is the prime musculature essential for proper support of your back. Try using a stand-up desk to decrease time spent sitting. If this is not an option, get up and take a quick walk around the office, use the restroom, go get a drink of water once every 45 minutes to keep your muscles active. As an added bonus, active muscles promote the release of energizing neurochemicals, helping you fight symptoms of fatigue after a long day of work.
The lumbar spine, the bones that support the weight of your upper body, is tasked with bearing heavy forces. Luckily, this region is protected by a dense web of interconnected muscle tissue. However, as you age, these muscles tend to weaken, inhibiting their ability to properly support your spine. Chronic back pain can be caused or exacerbated by weakened core muscles. Using a strength training routine with an emphasis on strengthening the low back with exercises such as back extensions, rows and lat pull downs can help reduce or eliminate existing back pain. Establishing a strong core can also go far in preventing future back pain or spinal injury. Consider working with a certified fitness trainer or physical therapist to ensure proper form and to help establish an effective training regimen.
While medication is unlikely to fix the true source of your back pain, it can ease your pain in the short term, allowing you to do the things you need to do to promote healing. Common medications include Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as Ibuprofen and Aleve, muscle relaxants and topical treatments such as BenGay.
The best approach to relieve back pain is likely a combination of all of the above. Talk to your doctor to further understand your options and decide which approach is right for you.