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.
Tips For Dealing With Lower Back Pain
By Robert Greenleaf, MD, Spine Surgeon
Lower back pain is extremely common and one of the top reasons for missed workdays. Thats because the lower back supports the weight of the upper body and is subject to a lot of stress and strainespecially during everyday movements like lifting and twisting.
One of two things typically causes lower back pain: a sudden injury or the wear and tear of aging, arthritis and physical activity. No matter the cause of your lower back pain, here are 10 recommendations that can help you relieve it and prevent future problems.
Referred Pain To And From The Lumbar Spine
Pain in the area of the lumbar spine may be due to important problems that are actually unrelated to the back. Referred pain occurs when a problem in one place in the body causes pain in another place. The pain travels down a nerve.. Sources of referred pain to the low back may include abdominal aneurysm , tubal pregnancy, kidney stones, pancreatitis, and colon cancer. Clues to these maladies include pain that waxes and wanes over a short period, with frequent peaks of intense pain, weight loss, abnormalities found during abdominal exam, and trace amounts of blood in the urine. On the other hand, pain can be referred from the low back and be felt in another location, as is often the case with . For example, it is not rare for a patient with a slipped disc in the lower back to have pain in the back of the thigh, or in the calf or even the foot, and not have any low back pain. This situation requires a doctor to sort out the type of pain and to do the examination required to show that the pain is actually coming from the spine .
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Age And Gender Issues
Age and gender are important factors to consider when diagnosing low back pain. In a young patient, a benign tumor of the spine called an osteoid osteoma may be the culprit. Inflammatory bowel disease in young people can be connected with spondylitis and sacroiliitis . Low back pain from disc disease or spinal degeneration is more likely to occur as people get older. Conditions such as abdominal aneurysm or multiple myeloma are also considered in older individuals.
Osteoporosis and fibromyalgia are much more common triggers of back pain in women than in men. Osteoporosis is a progressive decrease in bone density that leaves the bones brittle, porous and prone to fracture. Fibromyalgia is a chronic disorder that causes widespread musculoskeletal pain, fatigue, and multiple tender points in the neck, spine, shoulders, and hips.
Use Posture Correctors For Lower Back Pain
If you have caught yourself slouching very often, to a point where it has become a cause for lower back aches it is time to immediately get yourself a posture corrector. What it does is retrains your body to develop better posture so that every other function of your body is performed better. It is like how a cycle works so much better and efficiently when both its wheels are properly aligned. Otherwise, there is unnecessary and avoidable friction that only gets worse with time.
Posture Correctors help to reduce muscle tension, reduce pressure on the spine, and help to improve posture to redistribute the weight in the spine.
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Common Causes Of Chronic Back Pain
Chronic back painis usually age-related, but can also result from a prior injury. The mostcommon causes include:
- Arthritis of the spinethe gradual thinning of the cartilage inside the spine
- Spinal stenosisnarrowing of the spinal canal that may lead to nerve pain
- Disc problems, such as a herniated or bulging disc
- Myofascial pain syndromeunexplained muscle pain and tenderness
In some cases, its difficult to pinpoint the cause of chronic back pain.If your doctor has exhausted all diagnostic options, its time to seek asecond opinion from a back pain specialist, recommends Nava. Itsimportant not to make rushed decisions or undergo extensive medicalprocedures until the origin of the pain is found. Not only may they nothelp they could make the pain worse, warns Nava.
If the source of the pain is not known or cant be treated, your bestoption may be to work with your doctor on reducing the flare-ups and makingthe pain manageable with nonsurgical treatments.
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Gently Stretch Your Joints And Soft Tissues Through Yoga
Yoga is an effective way to stretch your back, improve the health of muscles and joints, enhance distribution of healing nutrients through blood circulation, and increase the flexibility of the spine.12
When you start, perform the stretches slowly and advance only if you feel comfortable without pain. Gradually, you will be able to add more stretches to your routine. An ideal time for yoga is early morningto help loosen your spine and also reduce stiffness and aches in your back.
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Abdominal Pain And Bloating
Stomach bloating, distention, cramps or pain in the abdominal or bowel region can be symptoms of colon or rectal cancer. These are common issues that can also be caused by a number of conditions, including diet-related gastrointestinal distress, Crohns disease or ulcerative colitis. See your doctor if you experience frequent abdominal pain and bloating that does not have an obvious cause.
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Muscle Aches And Pains Persisting Months Later
Besides being a possible early symptom of COVID-19, joint or muscle pain occurring anywhere in the body may also be a long-term effect of the disease, said the CDC.
Per the CDC, long COVID-19 mostly occurs among people who previously experienced severe symptoms of the disease. Although, long-term side effects of COVID-19 can also persist among people who have mild symptoms or even no symptoms at all.
In addition to muscle aches, some common symptoms of long COVID-19 include tiredness, difficulty breathing, brain fog, and change in taste or smell, among others.
The BMJ study found that, in a group of 201 young, low-risk patients in the UK with ongoing symptoms of the disease, 88% of them reported experiencing muscle aches four months after their initial symptoms of COVID-19 infection.
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Treatment Options For Lower Back Pain
If you see a physiotherapist or GP for lower back pain, they will probably encourage you to try the self-help measures outlined above first. They can also advise you on what exercises you can do to help your back, or may refer you to a group exercise programme. But if your pain doesnt improve, they may be able to recommend other options you can try. They can also refer you to a specialist if necessary.
What Is Lower Back Pain
Low back pain can result from many different injuries, conditions or diseases most often, an injury to muscles or tendons in the back.
Pain can range from mild to severe. In some cases, pain can make it difficult or impossible to walk, sleep, work or do everyday activities.
Usually, lower back pain gets better with rest, pain relievers and physical therapy . Cortisone injections and hands-on treatments can relieve pain and help the healing process. Some back injuries and conditions require surgical repair.
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How Is Back Pain Treated
You can do several things to manage back pain. A conversation with your doctor or physiotherapist can help address any concerns you may have and help you to better understand your treatment. Remember that not all information is trustworthy, so let your healthcare team know about treatments you are considering before you begin them.
Ways to manage back pain include the following:
Strong pain medication is not recommended for back pain. Research shows strong pain medication provides little benefit and can cause side effects such as drowsiness, sedation and/or dependence.
If you have severe back pain and your current medication is not adequately managing it, talk to your doctor about a suitable treatment plan. In some cases, your doctor may suggest an injection that can numb the pain such as an epidural injection, or a surgical procedure, such as a laminectomy to help manage your pain.
There are many other treatments to manage back pain, but they have not been well proven. These include:
- herbal medicines
- heat and cold therapy
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% Of People Will Experience Back Pain At Some Time But There Are Ways To Find Relief
As people enter middle age, they are more likely to experience bouts of low back pain. In fact, according to the Harvard Special Health Report Men’s Health: Fifty and Forward, back pain affects about four in five Americans at some point in their lives and equally strikes men and women.
Age is often the culprit. Over time, the bones and joints in your lower back begin to change. Your discs tend to wear out and sometimes become fragmented. These structural alterations sometimes cause pain.
Another cause of low back pain, although it occurs less often, is a herniated disc. Sometimes, a disc pushes outside the space between the bones and compresses a nerve at the point where it branches off the spinal cord. When the sciatic nerve that leads into the buttocks and leg is affected, the pain is called sciatica.
Yet, most cases of low back pain stem from strain or sprain due to simple overuse, unaccustomed activity, excessive lifting, or an accident. In most cases the best move is to wait and see if the pain resolves on its own. If the pain does not improve after three to four days, then it’s time to see a doctor.
However, depending on the source of your back pain and its severity, you might try a few home remedies for low back pain to help ease the pain until your back returns to normal. Here are several options to consider:
Complementary therapies. Several types of complementary therapy may be helpful for relief from low back pain. These include:
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Fall Asleep Faster And Sleep Longer
When you have a restful nights sleep, your back will feel less sore during the day.7 A night of restorative sleep can have healing benefits and make you feel refreshed, rejuvenated, and less stressed.
Try these natural sleep aids, one at a time, to see which one works best for you:
- Vitamins C and B6. The natural steroids in your body control your metabolism and promote good sleep.8,9 Supplements of vitamins C10 and B611 are known to help the body produce and regulate natural steroid hormones.
- Melatonin. Your natural sleep hormone, melatonin can be taken as a supplement to improve your sleep cycle.
- L-theanine. An amino acid found in tea leaves, L-theanine may help some people feel relaxed and get better sleep.
- Valerian. Supplements made from the root of the valerian plant may help you sleep faster and stay asleep longer.
Another option is cherry juice or cherry extractscherries contain certain enzymes that help promote better sleep.4
Release Your Inner Endorphins
Endorphins are hormones made naturally in your body. What many people dont know is that endorphins may help block pain signals from registering in your brain. Endorphins also help alleviate anxiety, stress, and depression, which are all associated with chronic back pain and often make the pain worse.
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Stretch #3 Lumbar Rotation
This is the first stretch in the series that is progressive assuming the previous movements were tolerable.
Laying on your back with your knees bent and feet flat, put your knees and feet together as if you had a mermaid tail. Next, take a deep breath in a and as you exhale slowly drop your knees to the side, inhale bringing the legs back up to the starting position and exhale again as you drop them to the other side.
You do not need to have your knees touch the floor, work within your own pain-free range of motion.
Working this movement side to side creates a rotational motion in the lumbar spine and can help reduce tension if you are trying to fix lower back pain at home. This is a great exercise because it is an unassisted stretch that targets the low back which can be a difficult area to alleviate pain on your own.
Low Back Pain Intensity And Daily Function
In a recent study, Dr. Vertsberger and colleagues recruited patients with CLBP and had them complete daily diaries for up to 30 days in which they rated their pain intensity, pain interference with daily activities, and their use of coping strategies.¹ The participants were part of a larger study of mind-body therapies for CLBP. The final analysis included 1,562 daily diary entries collected between March 2015 and March 2016. The mean age of the participants was 41 years approximately 30% were Caucasian, 18% were Asian, 5% were Black, 8% were of other ethnicities ethnicity was unknown for approximately 40%, and 72% had at least a college bachelors degree. Approximately half of the participants were women.
Across the 30-day study period, the mean average pain intensity was 45.26 on a scale of 0 to 100 .
Interference of pain with activities was based on responses to the question, How much did low back pain interfere with your daily activities today? using a scale of 0 to 100 .
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Stretch #2 Prayer Stretch
Starting with prayer stretch is a great way to gauge your range of motion, pain sensation, and still get benefits of a stretch. It is important when dealing with low back pain to move slowly and purposefully to avoid positions and movements that reproduce symptoms dramatically.
For this exercise you will want to start out on your hands and knees with your eyes looking down at the floor. A straight line from your glutes to the top of your head for proper spinal alignment.
Once in that position, take a deep breath in through the nose and out through the mouth slowly releasing the air as you sit your hips back on your heels. The lower you can get the better, drop your chest and head down as you fully exhale and hold the position for 30 seconds.
This stretch targets the low back specifically but also helps get the pelvis into a more favorable position to stretch the back muscles entirely in a safe manner. Repeat this stretch and attempt to get lower each time until your hips can comfortably sit on your heels. This is a great stretch to start or end the day.
Pain That Comes With Fever
Severe back pain that comes with fever, plus tingling or numbness in your arms, can be a sign of a spinal infection. It doesnt happen often, but youre more at risk if you are obese, immunosuppressed, or have diabetes or cancer. Your doctor will ask for X-rays, CT scans or MRI scans to rule it out. In some cases, you may have to check in the hospital to get intravenous antibiotics.
- Medical Author: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Last Editorial Review: 10/9/2020
Fatigue and joint pain are generalized symptoms that can accompany different illnesses and medical conditions, including conditions that can cause diarrhea. Examples can include irritable bowel syndrome or food poisoning. It is also possible for reactions to certain medications to cause these symptoms. Keep a record of your symptoms, and speak with your doctor if you experience disturbing symptoms that do not go away.
While the list below can be considered as a guide to educate yourself about these conditions, this is not a substitute for a diagnosis from a health care provider. There are many other medical conditions that also can be associated with your symptoms and signs. Here are a number of those from MedicineNet:
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Bonus Tip: Soothe The Pain With Cold And/or Hot
Dont 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. Its 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.