Back pain can strike at any time and anyone who has suffered this type of pain knows that it can be unbearable and debilitating. This is why it is essential to arm yourself with home remedies for back pain relief. It is important to try to make yourself as comfortable as possible until you are able to seek appropriate medical treatment.
Heating Pads and Cold Packs
For minor back pain, something as simple as applying heat or a cold pack can make a huge difference. Applying an ice pack to your back can reduce nerve activity and create a numbing effect as well as decrease inflammation and swelling. If you decide to apply ice to the injured area, wrap the ice in a towel or cloth to protect your skin.
Applying heat with a heating pad or a hot shower can also help relieve back pain. Heat can help relax injured muscles and decrease inflammation. The source of your back pain will determine which method will be the most effective. Always listen to your body. If applying cold or heat produces a feeling of additional discomfort, stop immediately.
The benefits of stretching include improved circulation and the relaxation of tight muscles. Stretching gently and consistently can also give you better flexibility, mobility and decrease your pain. This easy at home solution can not only relieve existing pain, it may also help decrease your chances of future injury.
A couple of easy stretches to start with include the child’s pose and cat cow stretch. To perform the child’s pose start out on all fours and gently sit back so that your bottom is resting on the back of your legs near your feet. Tuck your head down and stretch each of your arms and hands out forward on the ground and hold until you feel a mild stretch in your back.
The cat cow pose is also easy to perform and can provide instant relief. Start on all fours with your wrists under your shoulders and your knees shoulder width apart, directly under your hips. Raise your back up towards the ceiling similar to an angry cat pulling your stomach in towards your spine. Gently release and raise your head so that you are looking towards the ceiling and your stomach is relaxed towards the floor. Perform several repetitions of this series.
This strategy will vary greatly depending on where your pain is located and how severe it is. However, gentle exercise that focuses on strengthening your body without aggravating existing inflammation or injury can be very helpful. Exercising while you are trying to relieve pain can increase blood flow and build muscles that will help you avoid future injury. If you are unsure what the best types of exercise are for you, consult your physician or a physical therapist.
Over the Counter Pain Relievers
Tylenol is the brand name of acetaminophen and works to bring down fever and decrease pain. The drawbacks to Tylenol are that it does not have anti-inflammatory properties and can negatively impact your liver if taken over a long period of time.
Ibuprofen is the active ingredient in Motrin and Advil. Unlike acetaminophen, ibuprofen is an NSAID and does have anti-inflammatory properties. If your pain stems from inflammation, ibuprofen may be more effective than some of the alternatives. The drawback to ibuprofen is that it may leave your system after a mere four to six hours.
Naproxen, more commonly known as Aleve, is another common over the counter pain reliever. It can be hard on the stomach and should be taken with food. Aleve is similar to ibuprofen by fighting inflammation and pain relief but it can last several hours longer than ibuprofen.
In addition to medication, there are some changes in your day to day lifestyle that can make back pain a thing of the past.
Change your shoes
If you are an avid high heel wearer, consider downsizing that heel to a supportive and sturdy tennis shoe. High heeled shoes tend to cause the lower back to arch and can cause a misalignment. Maintaining this position for long periods of time can bring on back spasms and intense lower back pain.
Long term smoking can contribute to disc degeneration and diminish the effectiveness of pain relievers. There are also studies that show smokers experience more pain overall than non-smokers. Quitting can not only help your back pain but can also improve your circulation, lung tissue health and overall extend your lifespan.
Spend some time examining your sitting, standing and sleeping postures throughout your day. Small steps such as adjusting your work chair or converting to a standing desk for a portion of the day may help you maintain better posture and eliminate your back pain. If you wake up in the morning with pain, you may try switching out your pillows to help ensure that your neck and spine are in alignment. If you have trouble maintaining good posture throughout the day, focus on strengthening your core and increase your awareness of your body throughout the day.
Reduce your stress
Frequent episodes of stress can negatively impact your musculoskeletal system. When you experience intense levels of stress, your body releases adrenaline and your blood pressure increases causing your muscles to tense and tighten. All of these responses to stress can contribute to back pain. Physical activities can help decrease your stress as well as increase your overall strength. Meditation, proper nutrition and a well rounded support system can all contribute to a less stressful day to day lifestyle and improve your pain levels.
There are a number of steps you can take to help alleviate your pain. If you find that your discomfort is unbearable or lasts more than a day or two, seek immediate medical treatment. If you find that your back pain is difficult to manage on your own, contact our office. We will work with you to identify the cause of your pain and create a specialized treatment plan to bring you relief as quickly as possible.