Too many people know the horror of back pain. It can happen 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.
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 severe or persistent pain.
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.
There is no one size fits all solution when it comes to how to apply or alternate these treatments– these numbers are merely suggestions. You know your body best, so don’t be afraid of some trial and error to find the best system for you.
Over-The-Counter Pain Relievers
There is a wide array of medications that can be used to reduce back pain. Common over the counter pain medications 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.
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.
For some, tight muscles and tendons can create tension and pain signals. If you fall into this category, physical activity might help.
When you are in pain, the last thing you want to do is exercise. Oddly enough, sometimes simple exercises such as gentle stretching can loosen the tension in muscles enough to relieve pain.
Note that when stretching, you should feel a stretch but the pose should not make pain worse. If you notice sharp, pulling sensations, or even a secondary injury, scale back and reassess your routine.
Stress management, rest, and good nutrition are all needed to help an injured back on the road to healing and to prevent future injuries.
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 down time. 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.
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.
Seeking Profession Pain relief
While these tips can help manage your pain, it’s important to be proactive about pain as well. 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 spinal issues, contact our office today. Together, we will achieve your best, pain free, life.