Back pain is an all-too-common problem that interferes with a person’s personal and work life. It’s a good thing though, there are a number of things you can do to quickly relieve back pain.
Lower and upper back pains are a common problem, in fact, it causes a higher number of disabilities than any other medical condition in the world. Nearly 80 percent of adults feel back pain throughout their lives.
Your spine and your back muscles support a lot of your body weight. Every person uses these muscles for daily movements, including walking, sitting, and standing.
OTC pain meds, like acetaminophen or ibuprofen, can help ease the pain. But there are also other things you can do at home to quickly relieve back pain:
Move your muscles through exercise
It can be difficult to move and stand up and move when you have back pain. But a quick walk, swim, yoga, or any low-impact exercise usually helps ease back pain.
Working out can relax tensed-up muscles as well as produce endorphins, the happy hormones (a.k.a. the body’s natural painkiller).
You can also consider daily exercise programs that include stretching and strength training, so you can keep your muscles strong and flexible.
Daily exercises can prevent future back pain that is caused by tight muscles.
Hot and cold compresses
Studies show that using hot or cold packs/compresses are effective at getting relief from back pains.
An ice pack is most effective when you use one right after injuries like a muscle strain. Wrap the ice pack in a towel and directly apply it to your back to relieve muscle inflammation.
A cold compress or cold packs can also give you a numbing effect for intense, sudden back pains. You can use a cold pack that works for pain relief, or you can opt for a bag of frozen veggies or a bag of ice covered in a cloth. This is to protect your skin from frostbite. Also, make sure that you only use the ice pack for under 20 minutes at a time.
A hot compress or heating pad is also effective at relaxing tense and aching muscles. Just be sure that you read and follow instructions on the heating pad before you use it. Carefully test the temperature before you apply it on your skin to be sure it’s not too hot to use.
If you do not have a heating pad, you can pour hot water in a glass bottle or heat a cloth bag in the microwave.
Regardless of which solution you choose, you need to take care not to burn your skin with either heat or ice.
Try doing these stretching exercises to get back pain relief. Hold each stretch for 30 seconds, or as long as you can comfortably hold it.
Toe Touch – Apart from stretching your hamstrings, bend forward to reach your toes will help loosen the muscles in the lower back.
Child’s Pose – Sit on your heels with the knees hips distance apart, lean forward and touch your head on the floor and stretch your arms out in front.
Cobra Pose – Lie on your stomach, place your hands’ palms down beside your shoulders, then slowly lift your chest up, making sure the top of your head aims upward.
Cat-Cow Pose – Starting on your hands and knees, alternate gently between arching your back upwards, and lowering it toward the floor.
Use pain-relieving creams
Many pain-relieving creams give back pain relief and are easily available online or in pharmacies.
Pain creams with capsaicin, a compound found in hot peppers, are also effective at relieving pain. Recent research found that using capsaicin pain creams is also effective at relieving pain caused by osteoarthritis.
On the other hand, creams that have menthol have a cooling effect that temporarily dulls back pain. Research says that putting menthol on the skin desensitizes the body’s pain receptors. Ideally, menthol creams are used with self-massage tools like foam rollers or a percussion massager.
Wear different shoes
Wearing ill-fitting shoes or shoes that provide no support also causes strains in your back muscles as well as in your neck and legs.
Always wearing high heels, for instance, throws your body’s alignment way off, causing lower back pain. Medical research discovered a connection between back pain and wearing high heels for extended periods of time.
However, wearing flat shoes also puts strain on your back and feet.
If you constantly feel back pain, You need to consider wearing shoes that fit you correctly and provide sufficient support for the feet. Consulting with a foot specialist or a podiatrist can help you find the right footwear.
Improve your workstation
Slouching at a desk for extended periods of time can cause muscle aches and back pain. Utilizing ergonomics to improve your workstation helps relieve pain caused by bad posture.
You need to keep the computer screen at eye level and keep your chair also at a proper height.
Workstations that utilize proper ergonomics – whether you are working at home or in an office – helps you avoid muscle injuries and reduce back pain.
On the other hand, if your work involves lifting, or if you often have to squat to carry items – make sure that you use trolleys to avoid straining your back and leg muscles.
Sleep. And more sleep.
Studies show that interrupted sleep increases body pain. Not getting enough sleep also lowers your pain tolerance, according to a separate study.
Sleeping in lumpy or too-hard mattresses, having wrong-sized pillows, or just not getting enough sleep triggers back pain.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adults need to get at least 7 hours of sleep every night.
Proper back alignment is crucial for great sleep quality and minimizing back pain when you wake up the next day.
Choose a pillow that provides enough support and keeps your neck and back in a straight line. If you are a side sleeper, you need to put a pillow between your knees to support your spine.
If you continuously do not get enough sleep, consult a doctor. Sleep disorders are usually treatable. Getting enough sleep can do more than just relieve pain, it can boost a person’s overall well-being.
Stress triggers tension in the muscles and causes painful muscle spasms. If your back pain is caused by physical trauma or long-term stress, you can opt for stress relieving techniques like:
Take deep breaths
Taking deep breaths for several minutes can help improve your body’s response to stress.
Doing progressive muscle relaxation for instance means relaxing and tensing the muscles in your body, targeting one muscle group at a time.
A study published that meditation-based stress relief minimizes back pain. Mindfulness means having an awareness of what your body is going through and utilizing meditation techniques to help relieve pain.
Yoga focuses on specific breathing and poses that aid with relaxation, especially when done regularly. A study has determined yoga to be effective at stress management. You can download smartphone apps that will guide you through different meditation and relaxation methods.
This means thinking about images that help bring about a sense of relaxation. A study showed that using guided imagery or visualization exercises, while listening to music or even self-massaging using a handheld massager helps release chronic stress.
When should you see a doctor?
You can usually treat back pain with patience and home remedies. But if you are experiencing chronic back pain, then you need to speak to a doctor.
Depending on the severity of the pain, a doctor can recommend NSAIDs, physical therapy, or any other pain relief treatment. Or if you have pre-existing health conditions or if you take prescription medication, you need to consult with your doctor before trying any form of alternative medication.