Like headaches, back pain can be debilitating, accounting for about 149 million in annual lost workdays in the U.S. and over 100 million lost workdays in the United Kingdom, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
More than impeding work productivity, back problems greatly reduce one’s mobility, making basic movements such as standing, bending, lifting and twisting next to impossible.
If you’re suffering from chronic or acute back pain or are recovering from surgery, check out these natural pain-relieving home treatments for your back aches to get you going again in no time.
1. Use hot and cold gel packs
Leave back pain behind by simply using hot and cold gel packs on the affected area. Cold gel back applications help resolve pain and inflammation, while warm gel packs promote blood flow and enhance relaxation.
Find lasting relief with these highly-rated and premium back pain relievers. Flexible even when taken straight from the freezer, they mold to your body’s every nook and cranny to address back pain and discomfort more effectively.
2. Snooze well
In order to maintain mental acuity and proper functioning, adults need at least seven hours of sleep every night, according to the National Sleep Foundation.
But more than refreshing, restoring and rejuvenating our body, having adequate restorative sleep can positively impact our pain perception, according to this study.
Hence, frequent sleep disturbances may lead to chronic pain and sleep deprivation may increase your sensitivity to pain. It’s a vicious cycle that may be alleviated by creating a relaxing sleeping environment, among other things.
Minimizing light and noise in your bedroom can help you doze off faster. Try using this eye mask to block out light and help you get that much-needed shuteye.
If you’re suffering from sleep disorders such as those caused by insomnia or chronic pain, have your condition checked by a medical professional.
3. Let the pillows talk
Replacing a worn-out mattress or supporting your sleeping position with pillows can help prevent back aches and promote sound sleep.
Try using this cervical pillow to prop your neck and back or to relieve pain effortlessly for a deep slumber. Otherwise, place a regular pillow underneath your feet for a much needed back support.
Back strains can be prevented by placing a cushion in between your knees if you sleep on your side, or under your lower abdomen and pelvis if you’re used to sleeping on your stomach.
4. Move often
Sitting for prolonged periods can put pressure on your spinal discs, leading to backaches. Standing for hours has the same impact, exacerbating your back problems.
To prevent back pains, consider getting up and walking short distances for a few minutes every hour. You may also perform these simple desk exercises to take the load off your back.
If your back is starting to hurt, take some rest and avoid strenuous activities. Relaxing activities such as listening to music, reading a book, sewing and the like will help keep your mind off the pain.
5. Sit (and stand) straight
Slouching can cause several stresses and strains that affect your back muscles, spinal joints and discs. These can cause pain and damage over time.
When sitting on a chair in the office, all the bones in your spine should be lined up neatly, your feet flat on the floor and your keyboard distanced properly to prevent you from slumping on the table.
Lying on your belly to read a book or work on your laptop is detrimental to your back, as it can cause your spine to bend excessively backwards, altering the dynamics of the spinal curve.
6. Stretch your muscles
More than improving muscle flexibility and keeping you relaxed, stretching can also help strengthen your back muscles, which may help reduce the frequency of back pain or prevent it altogether.
If you’re up for it, try some yoga poses and stretches. This study discovered that yoga is effective in reducing the muscle tension that contributes to lower back pain.
Start slowly and perform proper breathing exercises when stretching. Stop when you are in pain. Don’t push yourself too much to avoid injuring yourself.
7. Indulge yourself
To loosen up sore back muscles and relieve pain, try massage therapy. Along with traditional treatments, massage therapy can reduce back aches and minimise the use of anti-inflammatory medications, according to this study.
You can use aromatic oils like eucalyptus, peppermint and lavender for that extra therapeutic relief.
8. Get wet
Who would’ve known that water can help ease your back pains? To benefit from water therapies, you only need a pool and a tub.
- Water exercises – For those who cannot tolerate land-based physical therapy for various reasons, for instance those who have weak, brittle bones or those who’ve just had surgery, water therapy is a great alternative. The water’s buoyancy helps support the patient’s weight, enhancing balance and strength while reducing the risk of further injuries.
- Epsom salt bath – Magnesium sulfate or epsom salt can penetrate through the skin and into your muscles, making it an effective remedy for sore back muscles.
You can also take a tennis ball with you, place it in between your back and against the tub and move side to side to further loosen knotted back muscles.
9. Don’t stress it
Stress can affect our body in many ways. When we get stressed, our body releases hormones, among them adrenaline, which activates our flight or fight response. As a result, our blood pressure increases and our muscles become tense. This can further lead to musculoskeletal changes that cause back pain.
We all respond differently to stressful situations. There are ways in which one can cope with it properly, though. Regular exercise, meditation, taking deep breaths and proper time management, as well as an appropriate work-life balance, are among the few methods to try.
10. Eat right
As chronic pain is a result of chronic inflammation, embarking on an anti-inflammatory diet can increase your resistance against back pain.
Foods that contain polyphenols are rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds that boost your immune system and aid in preventing or easing painful flare-ups.
All types of berries, other dark-colored fruits, whole grains and green leafy vegetables such as kale, broccoli and spinach are few of the main dietary sources of anti-inflammatory nutrients.
Turmeric, ginger, or green tea, tart cherry juice, and red wine are only a few anti-inflammatory beverages you can take regularly.
11. Maintain bone health
If, as a child, you never heeded your parents’ advice to drink milk or eat healthy, you’re going to have to pay for it later in life. As we age, maintaining bone mass can become a challenge, leading to osteoporosis or other bone diseases that weaken the vertebrae or the spinal column.
A healthy diet can nourish your bones, muscles, joints and spine, and the following nutrients are found to be essential in keeping your back problems at bay.
- Calcium helps maintain bone mass, especially as we grow older. Milk, yogurt, cheese and leafy green vegetables are few of the main natural sources of calcium.
- Vitamin K2 works with calcium to keep your bones strong and healthy. It is responsible for directing calcium distribution in the body and depositing it to your bones. Meats, cheeses, egg yolks and other dairy products are among the main sources of this bone-boosting nutrient.
- Vitamin D3 allows calcium absorption that is critical for strong and healthy bones. Apart from sun exposure, this nutrient can be found in salmon, egg yolks and cod liver oil.
- Magnesium is responsible for at least 300 biochemical processes in our body, among them maintaining bone density and muscle health, as well as preventing back problems. Eating fish, nuts, yogurt, dark chocolate and bananas can increase your body’s magnesium content.
- Vitamin C not only functions as an antioxidant that boosts our immune system, but it is also essential in tissue formation, healing injured muscles, tendons, ligaments and intervertebral discs that help keep our vertebrae strong. Most fruits and vegetables are rich in Vitamin C.
- Vitamin B12 supports nerve function, blood formation and DNA synthesis. It is vital in the formation of the body’s bone-building cells and the formation of red blood cells in the bone marrow. These nutrients are found in dairy, poultry and meat products, eggs and fish.
- Collagen is a type of protein that makes up 30 percent of our bones’ dry weight. It also supports bone strength and is one of the major components of the cartilage. Increase your body’s natural collagen by consuming chicken, fish and shellfish, egg whites, citrus fruits and berries.
- Iron is an integral blood component. It is vital in collagen production and in converting vitamin D to its active form. Iron-rich foods include liver, pork, fish and shellfish, red meat, poultry, green leafy vegetables, beans, soy, eggs and whole grains.
12. Get pricked
One of the main components of Chinese traditional medicine, acupuncture involves inserting needles in various strategic treatment points on your body. It works by stimulating the nervous system to release chemicals that promote our body’s natural healing abilities.
Few reviews indicate that the practice may be effective pain management not only for the lower back but for headaches, neck and knee pains, as well.
When should you see a doctor for back aches?
Most back pain can be treated with simple, at-home remedies. However, in some instances, you may need to be seen by your doctor, especially when you’re suffering from severe back pain that lasts longer than six weeks or you have backaches accompanied by fever, stomach pains or weakness or tingling in the limbs.
What are the other treatment options for back pain?
For severe and chronic back aches impervious to home treatment strategies, a doctor may recommend various treatment options, including prescription painkillers, surgery and physical therapy.
As these simple, alternative treatments have virtually no adverse effects, you can explore various approaches to see which one works best for you. It’s not too late, for instance, to strengthen your muscles by stretching or to improve your diet by increasing your consumption of back pain-busting nutrients.
How about you? How do you deal with back pain? Tell us all about it here.