Bonus Tip: Soothe The Pain With Cold And/or Hot
Don’t underestimate the pain reduction of simply applying cold packs and/or hot packs to help reduce your lower back pain.
- Cold therapy helps reduce inflammation and pain. Some examples include wrapping ice in a cloth, a pack of frozen peas from the freezer, or a cold gel pack. Always keep at least one layer between your skin and the ice/cold pack.
- Heat therapy helps improve blood flow, relaxation, and pain relief. Heat therapy can come in many forms. It’s best to try several to find what works best for you. Taking a warm bath or shower, soaking in a hot tub, or using a heating pad or heat wrap are all ways to bring warmth to your lower back.
Whether applying ice or a heat pack, limit applications to 15 or 20 minutes with at least 2 hours of rest in between to protect your skin. Never sleep with a heating pad or frozen pack as this can lead to permanent skin damage.
Hopefully these overlooked remedies can help you try some new approaches to better manage your lower back pain and find lasting relief.
Complete Guide To Low Back Pain
This article might ease your mind, but what about your back pain? If your pain is becoming chronic , or if you just keep having flare-ups, you may want to dive much deeper into the topic. There arent any easy answers for stubborn back pain, but there is evidence-based hope, and the PainScience.com back pain tutorial explores the topic extremely thoroughly. The main text is written for patients, but its also extensively referenced for keen readers and healthcare professionals. Read the introduction.
When Is Lower Back Pain An Emergency
Most episodes of lower back pain eventually resolve on their own, but there are times when you should seek urgent medical attention. Some of these situations include:
- Patient is a child
- Pain is severe, constant, suddenly or progressively worsens, and/or doesnt go away
- Pain interrupts sleep
While some situations may warrant immediate intervention, most cases are not urgent and can be scheduled at a time convenient for the patient.
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Overlooked Remedies For Lower Back Pain Relief
When lower back pain persists and continues to interfere with your quality of life, multiple treatment options may be needed for adequate relief. Below are some back pain treatments that are commonly overlooked or underused. Try one or more of these remedies to see which one, or combination, works best for you.
What Causes Lower Back Pain
Many injuries, conditions and diseases can cause lower back pain. They include:
- Strains and sprains: Back strains and sprains are the most common cause of back pain. You can injure muscles, tendons or ligaments by lifting something too heavy or not lifting safely. Some people strain their back by sneezing, coughing, twisting or bending over.
- Fractures: The bones in the spine can break during an accident, like a car crash or a fall. Certain conditions increase the risk of fractures.
- Disk problems: Disks cushion the vertebrae . Disks can bulge from their position in the spine and press on a nerve. They can also tear . With age, disks can get flatter and offer less protection .
- Structural problems: A condition called spinal stenosis happens when the spinal column is too narrow for the spinal cord. Something pinching the spinal cord can cause severe sciatic nerve pain and lower back pain. Scoliosis can lead to pain, stiffness and difficulty moving.
- Arthritis: Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis to cause lower back pain. Ankylosing spondylitis causes lower back pain, inflammation and stiffness in the spine.
- Disease:Spine tumors, infections and several types of cancer can cause back pain. Other conditions can cause back pain, too. These include kidney stones and abdominal aortic aneurysm.
- Spondylolisthesis: This condition causes the vertebrae in the spine to slip out of place. Spondylolisthesis leads to low back pain and often leg pain as well.
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What Are Some Complementary Alternative And Emerging Treatments For Lower Back Pain
In some cases, doctors suggest therapies that are not considered standard of care. They probably wont be covered by insurance, but they may be worth considering. Examples include:
Platelet-rich plasma . PRP treatments use a small sample of your own blood that has concentrated amounts of blood building blocks known as platelets. Your doctor then injects the PRP directly into a damaged disc. The theory is that PRP injections use your own healing system to accelerate improvement of injured tendons, ligaments, muscles, and joints. PRP treatment has a longer track record in knee osteoarthritis, but a recent review article in the Journal of Spine Surgery suggests it may have a useful role for back pain, too. PRP needs a lot more research before it can be considered a proven technique.
Stem cells. In this emerging treatment, your doctor injects stem cells harvested from your hip into the intervertebral disc or discs causing your pain. Doing so may lessen pain and the degenerative effects of aging, though, like PRP, more research is needed before stem cells for lower back pain could eventually become the standard of care.
Acupuncture. Your doctor probably doesnt perform acupuncture , but may support you trying it as a complementary therapy. Acupuncture involves careful insertion of fine, sterile needles into specific points on your body. This may stimulate the release of your natural pain-killing chemicals.
The Results On Massage Are Mixed But Its Also Pretty Harmless
In general, massage therapists work by manipulating the muscle and soft tissue of the back and body. There are many, many different styles of massage: Swedish, deep tissue, sport, myofascial release, Thai, the list goes on. Massages also vary in how long they last, how much pressure is used, and how frequent sessions are, which makes the evidence for massage pretty difficult to interpret.
But theres good news here: Massage is pretty harmless, and the researchers who study back pain say the approach makes sense from a pain relief perspective. So it may be worth trying.
According to AHRQ, for subacute and chronic low back pain, massage seems to improve symptoms and function in the short term but theres no evidence that it leads to any long-term change. At best, youll get a bit of immediate relief, but nothing lasting.
The Cochrane systematic review on massage for low back pain looked at 25 trials on massage and, like AHRQ, found short-term improvements in pain and function for both subacute and chronic low back pain but a very mixed evidence base.
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Home Spinal Decompression For Sciatica
Sit and Decompress see user reviews
Spinal decompression is by far the fastest and best sciatic pain relief method, in my experience.
Spinal decompression treatments have been shown to fix herniated and bulging discs pressing on nerves time and time again without surgery.
Sciatica can be eliminated and even arthritis sufferers find tremendous relief using spinal decompression.
Heres how to do it:
Sciatica Spine Decompression Exercises
If your pain is not debilitating and you are able to move, spinal decompression exercises can be the best place to start your healing process .
Above is an image with some of the best spinal decompression exercises you can do at home daily for a quick sciatica pain relief.
You can also get your own back traction device to use anytime you need it at the comfort of your own home and save a fortune on chiropractor treatments.
Heres my post about how to do back traction at home and which devices are best.
Inversion Therapy for Sciatica
Using an inversion table can relieve your sciatic pain in just a few minutes. If you use it daily, it will allow you to gradually incline your body until you can remain upside down for 5-15 minutes a day.
While upside down, gravity pulls your spine allowing the vertebrae to relax enough for the spinal discs to recover their proper shape and increase circulation for faster healing.
See what users have to say about the Innova ITX9600!
Enter Alternative Therapies For Chronic Back Pain
Despite the clear risks, doctors have continued to prescribe painkillers, and perform surgeries and injections, sometimes to patients who wont take no for answer or who cant afford to try alternatives .
Slowly, though, the tide is shifting.
Medical societies and public health agencies are now advising doctors to try less invasive options and even alternative therapies such as acupuncture before considering opioids or surgery.
Most recently, in , the American College of Physicians advised doctors and patients try non-drug therapies such as exercise, acupuncture, tai chi, yoga, and even chiropractics, and avoid prescription drugs or surgical options wherever possible. In , the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also came out with new guidelines urging health care providers to turn to non-drug options and non-opioid painkillers before considering opioids.
At the same time, research has mounted suggesting active therapies can really help people work through back pain, and alternative approaches can be effective, too with the caveat that theyre often no panacea and the effects tend to be short-lived and moderate.
But most of the alternatives also carry little or no harm which makes them all the more appealing amid the historic drug crisis.
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One Back Pain Treatment You Probably Dont Need
Back pain can be incredibly frustrating, and going under the knife may seem like the quickest, easiest fix to bring relief. But the truth is, many people dont need surgery for lower back pain management, Dr. Park says.
If your back pain is musculoskeletal, you will not require surgery, but if its a pinched nerve thats due to a disc herniation or something else, you may need to have surgery, he says. But even in those people, when you go through a six-to-eight-week course of treatment that includes physical therapy and activity modification, 85 to 90 percent of the time, they wont need surgery.
However, if you try the treatments above and dont see any improvement or still feel pain, talk to your doctor about a referral to a pain management specialist, as more specific tests or treatments may be required to get to the bottom of whats going on.
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Donkey Kicks How I Cured My Lower Back Pain
This is one more glutes workout relocation that doubles as a lower-back helper.Just how to do it: Get down on your hands and knees, with your hands straight over your shoulders. Raise up your best leg, keeping your knee at a 90-degree angle, up until your leg is alongside the ground. Gradually lower it back down to the ground. Repeat for 90 seconds, after that change legs.
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How Is Back Pain Treated
Acute back pain usually gets better on its own. Acute back pain is usually treated with:
- Medications designed to relieve pain and/or inflammation
- analgesics such as acetaminophen and aspirin
- non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen and naproxen may be sold over the counter some NSAIDS are prescribed by a physician
- muscle relaxants are prescription drugs that are used on a short-term basis to relax tight muscles
- topical pain relief such as creams, gels, patches, or sprays applied to the skin stimulate the nerves in the skin to provide feelings of warmth or cold in order to dull the sensation of pain. Common topical medications include capsaicin and lidocaine.
Exercising, bed rest, and surgery are typically not recommended for acute back pain.Chronic back pain is most often treated with a stepped care approach, moving from simple low-cost treatments to more aggressive approaches. Specific treatments may depend on the identified cause of the back pain.
Stretching And Foam Rollers May Improve Back Pain
If the primary issue causing back pain was limited motion and stiffness, its likely that I would prescribe some stretching exercises, says Stephens. These could be done with a therapist or independently at home, he says.
Foam rollers can sometimes be helpful in relaxing a tight muscle, but it can be difficult to access the right spot with lower back pain if youre trying to do it on your own, he says.
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Who Is Most Often Affected
People who are most likely to experience lower right back pain include the following.
- Right-handed individuals: When the right hand is dominant, this causes the right side of the body to receive more use and become stronger. This can throw the body out of balance and cause additional strain and injury on the right side.
- People over 50: Wear-and-tear of the spinal discs are more common among those in this age group.
- People under 50: Ruptured spinal discs are more common among those in this age group.
- People who play a strenuous sport
- People who sit often
- People who are overweight or obese
- Workers who lift heavy objects
- Anyone in a car accident
What Research Is Being Done
The mission of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke is to seek fundamental knowledge of the brain and nervous system and to use that knowledge to reduce the burden of neurological disease. NINDS is a component of the National Institutes of Health , the leading supporter of biomedical research in the world.
As a primary supporter of research on pain and pain mechanisms, NINDS is a member of the NIH Pain Consortium, which was established to promote collaboration among the many NIH Institutes and Centers with research programs and activities addressing pain. On an even broader scale, NIH participates in the Interagency Pain Research Coordinating Committee, a federal advisory committee that coordinates research across other U.S. Department of Health and Human Services agencies as well as the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs.
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Yoga Pilates And Tai Chi Seem To Help But Its Not Clear That Theyre Any Better Than Other Exercise
Theres lots of research on back pain and yoga. Not all of it is high-quality, but taken together, the evidence pretty uniformly suggests yoga can both decrease pain and improve back-related function.
The most recent Cochrane systematic review on yoga and chronic low back pain, published in 2017, sums up the results of the best available studies, which mostly focused on the Iyengar, Hatha, or Viniyoga forms of yoga:
There is low- to moderate-certainty evidence that yoga compared to non-exercise controls results in small to moderate improvements in back-related function at three and six months. Yoga may also be slightly more effective for pain at three and six months, however the effect size did not meet predefined levels of minimum clinical importance.
So again, this isnt an end-all treatment but the evidence we have points in the direction of a benefit.
Importantly, the review authors also noted that its not clear whether yoga is better than other exercises, since there were few head-to-head comparisons tracking yoga against other kinds of workouts.
For Pilates, the evidence was a little more mixed: It was associated with small or no effects on pain and no effects on function compared with other types of exercise. Again, though, pretty much every back expert I spoke to said any exercise is better than no exercise, so if Pilates is something you enjoy, do it.
Avoid Prolonged Static Posture
It is important to pay attention to the joints and muscles of your spine and hip. Prevent fatigue and stresses on these joints by following simple tips, such as:
- Avoid excessive sitting or consider using a standing desk while you work. When you sit for a long duration, the pressure on your spinal discs increase. Aim to get up every hour and walk a short distance to take the load off your discs.
When you have a flare-up of symptoms, consider less exertive activities, such as reading a book, listening to music, or crafting. These activities can help divert your mind from the pain and let your back rest at the same time.
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Root Causes Of Persistent Lower Pain In The Back
Pain is thought about chronic once it lasts for greater than 3 months and surpasses the bodys all-natural healing process. Persistent pain in the low back often includes a disc problem, a joint trouble, and/or an inflamed nerve root. Usual reasons include:
Lumbar herniated disc. The jelly-like facility of a back disc can appear the challenging outer layer and aggravate a neighboring nerve root. The herniated portion of the disc contains proteins that create swelling when they reach a nerve root, and also inflammation, as well as nerve compression, cause nerve origin pain. The disc wall is additionally richly supplied by nerve fibers, and a tear via the wall surface can trigger severe pain.
Degenerative disc disease. At birth, intervertebral discs are full of water as well as at their healthiest. As individuals age with time, discs shed hydration and wear down. As the disc loses hydration, it can not withstand pressures also, as well as transfers pressure to the disc wall surface that may create splits and cause pain or weakening that can cause a herniation. The disc can additionally break down and add to constriction.