Nondrug Therapies And Lifestyle Changes To Ease Back Pain
Learn how assistive devices, mind-body therapies and healthy choices can provide back pain relief.
An estimated 50 percent to 80 percent of American adults will experience back pain. Whether because of a traumatic accident, a simple injury or osteoarthritis, there are ways to find relief. If you have a type of inflammatory arthritis such as ankylosing spondylitis or non-radiographic axial spondylarthritis, you also need to seek care from a rheumatologist to manage the inflammation that is driving your back pain. But these self-care tips can help to ease back pain.
Make Your Own Heat Pad
Fill a cotton sock with uncooked rice grains and seal it. Microwave on high for 2-3 minutes. When it cools down slightly but is still nice and warm, place it on sore, stiff joints. Your DIY heat pad should stay warm for about half an hour. The rice grains will shape to your body and provide soothing heat. If you have lavender or another fragrant herb on hand, toss it in with the rice grains for an additional relaxing aromatherapy treatment, too. Check out these other home remedies for arthritis even doctors recommend.
What Can I Do
Learn about back pain and play an active role in your treatment. Not all information you read or hear about is trustworthy so always talk to your healthcare team about treatments you are thinking about trying. Reliable sources of further information are also listed in the section below. Self-management courses aim to help you develop skills to be actively involved in your healthcare. Contact your local Arthritis Office for details of these courses.
Stay active and healthy. Your back is designed for movement. Continuing with your normal activities or returning to them as soon as you can will help you recover from a bout of back pain. Some pain with activity is normal but does not mean it is causing harm. You may need to rest or reduce some activities when the pain is excessive. But resting for more than a day or two usually does not help and may do more harm than good. See a physiotherapist or exercise physiologist for advice about exercises to keep your back moving. If you are carrying extra kilos, losing weight with the help of a dietitian may be of benefit, as may be strategies to reduce stress and anxiety.
Learn ways to manage pain. There are many things you can try, including
Acknowledge your feelings and seek support. It is natural to feel worried, frustrated, sad and sometimes angry when you have pain. Be aware of these feelings and get help if they start affecting your daily life.
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Spinal Arthritis: What You Need To Know
Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis to affect the spine.
Arthritis can occur anywhere along the spine, but is more frequent in the lower back and neck.
Pain and stiffness are the most common symptoms of spinal arthritis.
Causes of spinal arthritis are still largely unknown except for osteoarthritis, which is typically a result of wear and tear.
Spinal arthritis treatment may include pain medications, steroid injections, physical therapy and surgery in severe cases.
Treatments For Back Pain
More than 85 percent of people with lower back pain improve with minimal treatment in a matter of days. However, if back problems persist, doctors generally prescribe one or more of the following treatments: proper exercise, rest, heat and cold, posture training, weight loss, stress management and relaxation exercises, medication, spinal manipulation and/or surgery. For some back conditions, the doctor may refer you to another specialist such as an orthopedist, rheumatologist, physiatrist, physical or occupational therapist, psychologist, psychiatrist or surgeon.
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Warm Or Cold Compress
Using a warming pad or whirlpool for a few minutes can loosen a stiff back and make activity easier. Icing the back for 15 or 20 minutes after activity can decrease swelling and provide quick pain relief.
These temporary treatments will not alleviate the underlying causes of back pain or improve long-term joint function.
Relax And Stay Positive
Trying to relax is a crucial part of easing the pain as muscle tension caused by worrying about your condition may make things worse.
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Although it can be difficult, it helps to stay positive and recognise that your pain should get better. People who manage to stay positive despite their pain tend to recover quicker.
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Diagnosis Of Back Pain
Regardless of what type of doctor you see, there are some things you can expect your doctor to do during your visit. Your doctor first will ask you a number of questions, the most common of which are listed as follows:
- What are your symptoms–that is, what aches or pains do you have?
- Exactly where is the pain?
- Where is the pain the most severe?
- When did the pain begin?
- How long have you had it?
- Did something specific cause your back pain, such as an accident or injury?
- What home treatments have you used?
- Were you under any additional stress when the pain began?
- Do you have any other health problems?
- What kind of work do you do?
- In what types of recreational activities do you participate?
Think about these ahead of time so you can answer them easily. You also may have questions you’d like to ask the doctor. As you think of questions at home, jot them down and take them to the appointment.
Next, your doctor will give you a physical exam. During the exam, the doctor may perform any of the following: observe your muscles and joints ask you to sit and lie down ask you to move your back in different positions observe and feel the area of most pain and/or check to see if other areas of your body are tender or painful If the doctor can identify the likely cause of your back pain at this point, no further tests will be needed.
How Arthritis In The Back Is Treated
Treatment for back arthritis depends on many factors, including your age, level of pain, type and severity of arthritis, other medical conditions and medications, and personal health goals. Because joint damage caused by arthritis is irreversible, treatment usually focuses on managing pain and preventing further damage.
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Make Your Own Capsaicin Cream
Capsaicin, the compound in chili peppers that gives them their heat, is an ingredient in many over-the-counter pain relief ointments. It works by reducing levels of a compound called substance P, which transmits pain signals to your brain. You can whip up your own massage oil by mixing a few dashes of ground cayenne with 2-3 teaspoons of olive oil. Apply it with gauze to unbroken skin on your painful joints several times a day. The first few doses will cause a mild burning sensation on the surface of your skin, but youll become desensitized to that feeling after a week or so. Just be sure to keep it away from your mouth, eyes, and other mucous membranes, where it will really sting.
Surgery For Spinal Arthritis
Surgery may be recommended for spinal arthritis if other treatments dont sufficiently relieve pain. The goals of the surgery may include:
Stabilizing the spine by fusing several segments together in a procedure called spinal fusion
These surgeries can be performed as open procedures or with a minimally invasive approach. There are pros and cons to each method. The surgeon will review and discuss the options before the operation.
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Back Pain And Stiffness
While back pain is a common symptom, not everyone with back arthritis experiences it.
Stiffness, which occurs as the joint hardens, is a frequent complaint among those with back arthritis. It can hinder you from doing simple activities, such as gardening or getting dressed.
Both of these symptoms can be helped significantly with exercise and physical therapy.
Increasing your flexibility and range of motion can help lessen the pain. Your physical therapist can achieve this with targeted movements that strengthen the muscles and take pressure off your joints.
Nonsurgical Treatment For Osteoarthritis Of The Spine
If osteoarthritis of the spine is diagnosed early, doctors may recommend nonsurgical treatment to manage symptoms. NYU Langone physicians, physical therapists, and physiatrists, who specialize in rehabilitation medicine, can help you relieve pain and stiffness, improve flexibility, and build strength in muscles that support the spine.
These treatments do not reverse damage to cartilage or bone or prevent the progression of osteoarthritis, but they may make it possible for you to continue an active lifestyle.
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Transform Chores Into A Workout
If youre at a loss for where to work out, look no further than your own house. Chores can turn into opportunities for arthritis exercises.
The key is to engage your core muscles. Keep your back straight and gently contract your abdominal muscles to get the most out of your movements.
Bend with your legs and not with your back while tightening your stomach to protect your back muscles.
You can practice this technique during a variety of chores, including:
- doing laundry
Preventing Arthritis In The Back
It is very hard to cope up with your work if you are always bothered with some pain in your back due to arthritis. This can make your back hurt so much that all that you want to do is to have some nap and stop working. Arthritis in the back can make you lose your productivity. You should therefore learn to minimize or prevent the pain if you want to continue enjoying your life.
Here are some tips in order to prevent arthritis in the back:
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Arthritis In Back Symptoms
Arthritis in back, also known as lumbar facet joint arthritis or lumbar spine arthritis is a known condition that can cause stiffness and pain to the joints found in the back and cause the surrounding tissues to become inflamed. Normally, the joints in the lumbar area or the back are are cushioned with a gel-filled disc and is protected with an outer covering known as cartilage. However, an arthritis condition can cause the cartilage to wear and tear and the discs to erode, thus resulting to irritation, friction, and pain and decreased flexibility in the back. Continue reading
Main Types Of Arthritis
Different types of arthritis come with different issues and symptoms. They are even classified by the age of onset symptoms. Here are the most prevalent types of arthritis people suffer from
Abnormal bone growth inside the joints or, increase of synovial fluids at the joints.
Causes painful inflammation in the joints, generally resulting from high amounts of uric acid in the body.
3. Calcium Crystals
Having a higher calcium percentage in the body can lead to crystallization of calcium near the joints, causing pain.
4. Rheumatoid Arthritis
It is caused by an auto-immune reaction that inflames the joints
5. Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis
When someone younger than 16 contracts joint issues, it is called juvenile idiopathic arthritis.
Arthritis issues of the spinal structure are categorized in this.
7. Psoriatic Arthritis
Psoriatic arthritis causes the skin near the affected area to turn bright red and inflamed. The affected skin might peel off.
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How Is Osteoarthritis Of The Spine Treated
In most cases, treatment of spinal osteoarthritis is geared toward relieving the symptoms of pain and increasing a person’s ability to function. The goal is to have a healthy lifestyle.
Initial treatment may include losing weight if needed and then, for everyone, maintaining a healthy weight. It may also include exercise. Besides helping with weight management, exercise can also help:
- increase flexibility
- improve blood flow
- make it easier to do daily tasks
- Strengthening exercises. These exercises seek to make muscles that support the joints stronger. They work through resistance with the use of weights or rubber bands.
- Aerobic exercises. These are exercises that make the heart and circulatory system stronger.
- Range-of-motion exercises. These exercises increase the bodyâs flexibility.
Including rest periods in the overall treatment plan is necessary. But bed rest, splints, bracing, or traction for long periods of time is not recommended.
There are non-drug treatments available for osteoarthritis, including:
- heat or cold compresses, which refers to placing ice or heated compresses onto the affected joint
- transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation using a small device that emits electrical pulses onto the affected area
- nutritional supplements
Half Crunch On The Ball
Do 2 sets of 5 to 10 repetitions.
Repeat 10 times.
The number of repetitions and sets recommended here are just thatrecommendations. You may do more or less depending on your ability. Remember that keeping good form is more important than doing multiple sets or repetitions. If you have questions about form, a doctor or physical therapist can help guide you.
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Arthritis In Lower Back Can Be Hereditary
Mrs P is doing incredibly well, and now comes in every three weeks for maintenance care â¦ Yesterday she told meâ¦ Her great niece, aged 17 had Harrington rods put in her spine about four years ago for the scoliosis. It was apparently reasonably successful. But last week, the lass went in for a further spinal fusion at L5-S1 â and woke up with a foot-drop. Nuff saidâ¦
Update: Mrs P continues to do well. We have now exended the maintenance treatment to every six weeks. And, the arthritis of the back is no different. Another X-ray would probably look just the same. But sheâs a different woman. The arthritis of the back wasnât per se the cause of her pain.
Research shows that if you are significantly over weight, that losing a lot of weight is the most important treatment you can do for arthritic hips, knees and feet. So choose: a knee replacement or lose 50 pounds. Your call, itâs probably going to be one or the other.
Itâs true in religion, but itâs true in healthcare too. Like: âYou have arthritis, Mrs Jones. Iâm afraid thereâs nothing to be done.â
Itâs a conviction commonly held in medical circles and light years from the scientifically proven truth. Think fatty fish, think exercise, think weight loss, think strawberries, think magnesium deficiency â¦ think Chiropractic.
But yes, sometimes it is difficult. Always? Definitely not!
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Spinal Cord Stimulation: An Alternative Or Adjunct To Medication For Spinal Osteoarthritis
If youve taken several medications for your spinal osteoarthritis with little relief, your doctor may recommend , also known as neuromodulation to help relieve your chronic back or neck pain.
Spinal cord stimulation generates mild electrical impulses that block pain signals from reaching your brain. Pain is perceived in the brain. Neuromodulation involves implanting a small generator either in your abdominal or buttock area and thin wires called leads into the spinal canal. Some patients are not candidates for SCS, such as people who are pregnant, have a heart condition, epilepsy or have an existing implanted device such as a pacemaker. If your doctor recommends SCS, the first step is a trial period where the system is temporarily worn outside your body. If your pain improves using the stimulator, the device may be implanted surgically.
For some patients, spinal cord stimulation also helps them reduce their dependence on opioids or other pain medications. If youre concerned about tapering or weaning off your pain medication, talk to your doctor about strategies that may ease this process.
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Up Your Calcium Intake
Getting too little calcium raises the risk of osteoporosis, a brittle-bone condition that accelerates if you have RA. Men and women should get 1,000 milligrams of calcium a day, 1,200 for women over 50 and men over 70. Dairy is the most famous source of calcium, but its also found in such veggies as cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kale, kohlrabi, broccoli, and turnip greens. Here are 11 foods with more calcium than a glass of milk.