Back pain results for a variety of reasons, including spinal problems, excess weight and muscle strain or injury. Depending on the reason for your back pain, you might be able to treat it without surgery or expensive medicines. Meet with a physician to determine the cause of your pain, then discuss your treatment options, which might include simple home remedies that cost little or nothing and help you get back to work, school or play.
Muscle problems are common causes of back pain
Your first treatment option might be rest, to allow your muscles to relax and heal. Lie down and find a position that does not cause you pain or aggravate your bad back. You may need to rest for several days. The American Academy of Family Physicians recommends positions such as lying on your back with pillows under your knees, or with your lower legs resting on the seat of a chair. Place a pillow beneath your head for both positions.
Pain Relievers/Muscle Relaxants
A doctor might recommend over-the-counter pain relievers that contain acetaminophen, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or naproxen, sold under familiar brand names such as Tylenol, Ibuprofen or Aleve, according to the Mayo Clinic. If pain persists, your doctor may prescribe a stronger muscle relaxant.
Cold or Heat?
To prevent swelling and inflammation of a back injury, apply a cold compress, including ice wrapped in a plastic bag and covered by a towel. Leave the ice on for 20 minutes, then remove for 30 minutes, then replace again for 20 minutes. If your back still hurts 24 hours after the pain has started, try heat to relax muscles that may have stiffened. A hot water bottle or sitting in a hot tub or bath might do the trick.
Strengthening your abdominal muscles can help alleviate back pain, especially if you have a stomach that’s putting stress on your spine. The trick is not to strain your back as you exercise. Regular situps may strain your back, especially if you fatigue and begin using your hands to pull you up by the back of the neck. Start with gentle toe touches, move to leg lifts, then try crunches with your hands in front of you. Consult with a fitness professional before you begin back exercises to make sure you do not magnify your injury. You can stretch your back muscles by lying down with a pillow behind your neck, then raising one knee toward your chest, using your hand to pull it closer and gently stretch your lower back muscles. Alternate legs.
When you gain weight, you put additional stress on your spine and the lower back muscles that support the extra weight. This is especially true if your weight is concentrated in your stomach, such as during pregnancy or if you have a “beer belly.” Losing weight can help you alleviate lower back pain.
A massage by a trained masseuse can help you relax your muscles, kneading tightness out of muscles and helping you increase your range of motion.
The Right Mattress
The wrong mattress can cause back problems; consequently, replacing your mattress can help alleviate your problem. Discuss with your doctor whether your mattress could be causing or exacerbating your back problem and what type of mattress you should buy.
Eastern cultures have used acupuncture to treat back pain for generations. There’s no medical proof these treatments work, but no proof they harm you, and many people swear by them. If you have chronic back pain, you may want to consider seeing an acupuncturist.