Millions of Americans suffer from chronic back pain. The reasons vary greatly. Fortunately, there are ways you can minimize the discomfort and improve pain management. Below are 5 things you can do to relieve your back pain:
1. Stay Active
Activity is often the best medicine for back pain. Studies show that people with short-term, lower-back pain who rest feel more pain and have a harder time with daily tasks than those who stay active. You may feel like you need to lie down for relief, but you’re better off avoiding bed rest.
Developing an individualized exercise plan is essential to managing chronic back pain. Some patients need core strengthening while others benefit from stretching and improving flexibility.
Simple exercises like walking can be helpful by forcing you out of a sitting posture and putting your body in a neutral, upright position.
Most people with chronic back pain benefit from stronger abdominal muscles. Strengthening the abdominals often reduces the strain on the lower back.
2. Maintain Good Posture
The pain may have started after a long workout at the gym, but the strain that caused it has probably been building for years. Most people have poor posture when going about their daily activities, putting unnecessary strain on their backs. Little things add up. You can increase the pressure on your back by 50 percent simply by leaning over the sink incorrectly to brush your teeth. Keeping the right amount of curvature in the back takes pressure off the nerves and reduces back pain.
3. Apply Ice and Heat
Heating pads and cold packs can comfort tender trunks. It’s common to recommend using ice for the first 48 hours after an injury — particularly if there is swelling — and then switch to heat. It’s hard to say if ice or heat is more beneficial. We recommend patients use whichever they find comforting as long as their skin is protected.
4. Sleep the Right Way
The amount of rest you get is important, and so is the position you get it in. Sleeping in a bad position or on a mattress without support can cause back pain. Some pointers:
- If you sleep on your back put pillows under your knees.
- If you sleep on your side, place pillows between your knees to keep your spine in a neutral position.
- Try not to sleep on your stomach. This causes the neck and head to twist and can put undue stress on the back.
5. See a Specialist
Find a doctor, such as an interventional radiologist, who specializes in back care. There are many noninvasive outpatient treatment options that quickly and effectively treat your back pain.