Developing lower back pain can greatly limit one's ability to carry out even the most basic of daily activities. The condition is so pervasive that it is considered to be one of the leading causes of disability in the world, according to the American Chiropractic Association (ACA).
People often feel pain as a result of strained muscles, sprained ligaments, irritated joints or ruptured discs occurring along the spine. These injuries can be sustained through a range of physical activities from simple movements such as picking up items from the floor to strenuous ones such as doing sports.
Back pain can also occur as a consequence of obesity, arthritis, poor posture and psychological stress.
If you experience severe and chronic pain on your lower back, it would be best to contact your health care provider as soon as possible to receive a proper assessment of your condition. If it is for mild or routine pain, the following tips may be helpful to alleviate your back ache.
For Short-term Back Pain
Applying Hot And Cold Treatments
Applying heat on the affected area is a common method to relieve back pain. This could either be done by placing a hot water bottle on the back or taking a hot bath.
Others prefer exposing their back to cold, such as a pack of ice or frozen vegetables, in order to reduce inflammation.
If you're going to use cold treatment on a painful back, make sure not to apply it directly on your skin to avoid getting a cold burn. Wrap a piece of cloth around your ice pack or frozen vegetable bag before placing it on your skin.
Taking Pain Medications
When it comes to taking medications for back pain, some sufferers choose to use paracetamol to alleviate their aches while others prefer taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as naproxen and ibuprofen, instead.
In addition to paracetamol, some patients may also take stronger forms of painkiller medications, such as codeine, depending on their doctor's prescription.
Painkillers, however, come with their own side effects. Patients may develop an addiction to these drugs or their body may not be able to sustain their use, depending on the status of their health. Long-term use of NSAIDs, for example, can affect the normal function of the kidneys.
You can consult your doctor or your pharmacist regarding the most suitable type of medication for your back pain.
If regular over-the-counter drugs are no longer effective at relieving your back pain, your healthcare provider may be able to prescribe a stronger medication for you. This could include muscle relaxants, such as diazepam, especially if you suffer from spasms on your back muscles as well.
Exercising And Changing Your Lifestyle
People who suffer from back pain may benefit from a change in lifestyle. Some causes of recurrent back aches include being overweight, having poor posture or becoming stressed out.
You may be able to lessen the occurrence of back pain flare-ups by starting a regular exercise regimen and becoming more physically active. Not only will these help you stay healthy, they can also strengthen your back.
Some people prefer activities such as walking or swimming, while others sign up for muscle-strengthening programs such as yoga classes. What is important is to choose an activity that is beneficial and enjoyable, not one that lets you endure more pain.
Changing Your Sleeping Position
Switching your sleeping position can also help ease the pain you feel and reduce the strain on your back.
If you prefer sleeping on your side, slightly draw your legs toward your chest and place a pillow between your legs.
On the other hand, if you like sleeping on your back, place a pillow under your knees to maintain the normal curve of your lower back while you rest.
For Long-term Back Pain
If you continue to have back pain for more than six weeks, your healthcare provider may have to reassess your treatment. This could include prescribing a stronger set of painkillers as well as recommending other remedies such as exercise classes, manual therapy or acupuncture.
Doctors often recommend these therapies for patients whose back pain is significantly diminishing their ability to conduct daily activities and those who are feeling distressed over their condition.
A class of drugs known as tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) may also be prescribed if regular painkillers no longer offer any relief to patients. TCAs, such as amitriptyline, were originally designed to treat depression, but they can also provide relief from persistent pain.