Back pain is more common than you think. In fact, studies show that around eight out of ten people have experienced back pain in their lifetime. Moreover, more women suffer from back problems and posture issues than men, especially as they age.
These problems can occur at any time from a wide range of causes such as turning too fast, lifting heavy objects, or as an effect of aging. These pains are often debilitating, sometimes even requiring bed rest. This leaves many to wonder how to get symptom relief fast.
Diagnosing Back Pain
In order to treat back pain, it is essential to be able to pinpoint the cause. It is necessary to do a complete examination of your posture and different movements, such as when you sit down, stand up, or walk. It may also be necessary to perform one or more tests to determine the cause of your back pain. These may include x-rays, MRI or CT scans, blood tests, bone scans, or nerve studies.
Treatment Options for Back Pain
For some people, back pain can be lessened with some common at home remedies within a matter of months. But for others, simply performing their own treatment at home does not provide long term relief. At this point, it is important to seek medical advice. There are several more intensive options for treatment.
In this article, we have outlined options for getting started with treatment at home as well as seeking professional treatment options when needed.
Home Remedies for Back Pain Relief
If you are in need of ways to relieve back pain fast, consider some of the following home remedies:
Heat & Ice
Simple yet effective, applying ice packs to the injured area in 15-minute increments can greatly reduce pain during the healing process of an injury. Generally, you want to apply rounds of ice to the injury during the first 24 to 48 hours to reduce swelling and inflammation.
Conversely, chronic back pain fares better when applying both hot and cold compresses. Like above, ice (or use cold packs) on the affected area for 15 minutes at a time. Then, after each increment, follow with a warm compress such as a hot water bottle or a heating pad. The heat not only feels good, but acts as an aid to help your muscles relax.
Over-The-Counter Pain Relievers
There is a wide array of medications that can be used to reduce back pain. Common over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs include Tylenol (acetaminophen), Advil (ibuprofen), and Aleve (naproxen). While these medications are effective, studies show that their ingredients can cause harm over time when taken on a consistent basis.
Acetaminophen is effective for pain relief but long term use can cause damage to your liver. Ibuprofen has anti-inflammatory properties that reduce pain but the effects are short lived and pose a risk to gut health. Naproxen is a similar, longer lasting, cousin of Ibuprofen– staying in the system for 8-12 hours as opposed to ibuprofen’s 4-6.
Regular and proper physical activity is essential for your back health. As studies have proven, moderate exercise can reduce back pain effectively. This is very helpful if you have a history of back problems or the pain comes intermittently.
These low-impact exercises you can practice include swimming, brisk walking, tai chi, yoga and basic stretching. These exercises and activities not only help you have a healthier back, but also improve your flexibility, strength and overall fitness level.
It’s easy to forget how much our emotional and physical health are intertwined. Stress, while something many deal with, can negatively impact your mood and posture, both of which lead to tense muscles and pain over time.
As such, some of the most powerful medicine is to de-stress. Walking, talking to a trusted friend, listening to your favorite music, find healthy ways to reduce your stress levels and be amazed at how your pain decreases as well.
Try making adjustments in your daily life, such as improving office ergonomics to improve poor posture. Wear shoes that provide adequate support and lessen the amount of time wearing shoes that cause back pain, like high heels. Chronic low back pain can be the side effect of many habits in day to day life.
If you don’t fuel up with the proper vitamins and nutrients, your bones, muscles, and tissue go without nourishment. This results in a variety of deficiencies that can either cause pain or make your existing pain worse.
Similarly, not getting enough rest impairs the body’s natural healing process. For some, this might include getting a full 8 hours of sleep while for others it might require a little more downtime. For those in the early stages of healing an injury, resting the body for a few hours at a time and then engaging in light activity is the most effective.
Professional Help for Back Pain Relief
If at home remedies are not enough to treat your back pain, consider seeking professional help. Some of the treatments medical professionals may recommend are as follows:
If you have frequent bouts of back pain, consulting with a physician may be your next step. These medical professionals can prescribe you a variety of pain medications should over-the-counter options fail or you experience pain worsening over time. Possible medications include muscle relaxers, narcotics, or injections. These types of medications should only be taken under the careful guidance of an experienced physician.
If you have been attempting your own exercises and stretches at home without much improvement, it may be time to see a physical therapist. They can help assess what is causing the pain, and teach you exercises that will ultimately help lessen it. These exercises will result in increased flexibility and the strengthening of your core in order to improve your posture and provide the support your back and neck need.
There are several options that medical professionals may use to treat your back pain, depending on the cause and where the pain is located. One form of treatment is through injections, such as cortisone injections. This involves a strong anti-inflammatory drug and numbing medication that are injected into the area around your spinal cord.
Another treatment procedure is through implanting devices under your skin. These devices are nerve simulators that deliver electrical impulses to nerves. This serves to block pain signals, resulting in relief of your pain.
Finally, in some cases surgery may be required in order to treat back pain. If you are experiencing chronic pain, your doctor or physical therapist may recommend surgery to treat it. However, surgical procedures for back pain are usually used as a treatment for those individuals who are experiencing structural problems related to their spine or a herniated disk.
Seeking Professional Help for Ways to Relieve Back Pain
While the home remedy tips can help manage your pain, it’s important to be proactive about pain as well. As pain management specialists, we have seen all types of back pain and are experienced in diagnosing the cause and treating pain effectively.
Whether you suffer from chronic pain or the occasional flare-up, working with an experienced medical team can help prevent future discomfort. Whether it is small changes to your lifestyle, carefully managed medication or physical therapy, there are many ways we can help you eliminate back pain. If you suffer from back pain, contact our office today. Together, we will achieve your best, pain-free, life.
Please note that back pain can be serious either caused by injuries or an underlying condition. As such, our tips are for educational purposes only, and we highly suggest visiting a doctor for medical advice regarding severe or persistent pain.