Do you have lower back pain? Stay calm. You are not alone. Anyone including you and me can experience lower back pain at any time for some reasons. Lower back pain may not always be serious and will usually get better over time on its own.
What is lower back pain?
According to statistics, over 80% of the population will suffer from lower back pain in their lifetime (1). Lower back pain speaks of that certain painful and uncomfortable sensation that you feel in your lower back which also includes similar discomforts like back stiffness, decreased movement of the lower back, and difficulty standing straight. Most cases entail that this condition can be linked to various general causes like muscle strain, or overuse; some specific condition of the spine like herniated disc, spinal stenosis, osteoarthritis, to name a few; and less common conditions such as sacroiliac joint dysfunction, spinal tumors, fibromyalgia, and piriformis syndrome (2).
5 Ways to relieve lower back pain:
- Sleep better. When you have back pain, sleeping could be quite a struggle. And pain is a main cause of insomnia (3). It could turn into a vicious cycle because your back pain may feel worse if you are unable to get enough sleep. Sleeping position can also worsen the pain in the back. It is advised that you try lying on your side while placing a pillow between your knees to keep your spine in a neutral position and relieve strain on your back and whenever you desire to sleep on your back, slide a pillow under your knees (4). It is important to note that sleeping on your side alone won’t make you feel better but using the pillow between your knees will because the pillow keeps your hips, pelvis, and spine in better alignment (5). And of course, make sure to sleep on a comfortably firm mattress.
- Get a massage. Poor posture, a strain from lifting something the wrong way, an injury from a fall or stress resulting from too little exercise could result to lower back pain, says Massage Tools website (6). Some suggest that massage can help aching back. Massage can loosen and help to realign tight, strained muscles. A study in the Archives of Internal Medicine shows that massage relieves lower back pain over the long term especially for people who suffered moderately severe chronic pain (7). In the study, participants’ pain level dropped dramatically by nearly 50 percent after an hour of massage once a week for 10 weeks. A 2008 review of 13 studies reveals that massage is indeed beneficial for low back pain (8).
- Meditate. Meditation is good for our minds and our bodies which can give us a greater boost or an extra energy for the day. Traditionally, meditation is practiced as a way to calm the mind, and possibly achieve enlightenment. And also, it is beneficial for dealing lower back pains. Engaging in a daily meditation practice is helpful when you are experiencing lower back pain. Doctors say that meditation and cognitive behavioral therapy may even work better than pain medicines and other medical treatments for chronic back pain (9). A research of the Group Health Research Institute shows that keeping the mind at ease and peaceful may be a non-drug alternative to help decrease chronic low back pain (10).
- Apply cold and heat therapies. Orthopedic doctors would recommend hot and cold compresses to ease the back troubles. The type of compress that would be useful depends on the type of back pain one suffers from. Hot compresses can be used on muscle injuries or common aches and pains from moving around a lot as it loosens up the back muscles and relief tension, which in the end helps ease pain in the back (11). It is important to know not to apply directly water pack especially heat pack to your skin and to avoid sleeping with a heating pad all night. Cold compresses relieve inflammation, swelling, pain and aches too. Cold compresses are used to relieve back pain by applying one every twenty to thirty minutes until you eventually feel the relieved from pain. Moreover, back problems causing discomforts may require a therapy that recommends the patient to use a combination of both hot and cold (12).
- Engage in physical activities. Exercise is great medicine for lower back pain and there is no specific type of exercise which can be called the best one (13). Exercise is recommended to patients with lower back pain because it reduces pain, maintains or restores flexibility, strength, and endurance (14). When your back is messing with your active routine, don’t stay in bed. Stay as active as you can be but do it slowly and surely. Do not rush and test your movements. Doing little things slowly could help ease the pain. You may tend to your garden and grow flowers and vegetables. Walk once in a while allowing for the restrictions in movement that may come with pain. Walking, swimming and cycling, dancing, yoga and tai chi may be some of the activities that can help you stretch your muscles. You can try any activities that can help you achieve core strength and stability. Multiple studies suggest that back pain sufferers who participate in weight training programs see a decrease in pain symptoms compared to those who avoid activity or stick strictly to cardio (15).
Taking Medications for lower back pain
If the pain in the lower back becomes so intense that walking and therapies at home can hardly ease the pain, many patients turn to their health providers for prescribed medication or use over the counter drugs. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) tablets, such as ibuprofen, relieves back pain which doesn’t require prescription. Alternative medicines such as codeine may also help but should ideally only be used for a few days, as it can cause addiction if used longer. Muscle relaxants may be prescribed if you have painful muscle spasms in your back while acetaminophen is used to manage pain (16). It is important to note that people with a history of certain medical conditions such as ulcers, kidney disease, and liver disease must avoid some medicines.
Final Thoughts on Lower Back Pain
People can often treat back pain with home remedies and some patience. The above are suggested activities you may engage yourself into when you are currently suffering from lower back pain. However, when the intensity of the pain does not subside or gets worse, speak to a doctor about it. He/She may recommend physical therapy, medication, or other treatments. And also, one important thing, people who have existing health conditions or who take regular medications should make sure to let their doctors know about remedies they would want to try at home.