When experiencing back pain, one has to be proactive in finding relief. While the pain may indeed go away with time, you don’t have to endure it and wait for your aches to subside. In this article, we give you 10 various back pain remedies and products to ease discomfort, support your spine and prevent new injuries to the muscles, ligaments and bones in your back.
Lumbar support cushions
You can put lumbar cushions and pads on your office chairs, car seats and even airplane sets to reduce pressure on your spine and make yourself more comfortable. Choose one that fits in the small part of your back, with the widest part of the cushion positioned between your lowest rib and your waist. You can also use a rolled-up towel as back support.
Back massagers can relieve back pain without the side effects caused by medication. Massagers can loosen up tightened back muscles, and this will reduce your pain symptoms. Massagers, however, will not work on all types of pain, including herniated or bulging discs.
Back massagers come in all sizes and types, with wearable back massagers, handheld and massage chairs are among the most popular. These can relieve muscle-related back pain by loosening cramps and providing temporary pain relief.
Braces may not work on every type of back pain, but some people feel more comfortable while wearing them. If you have weak abdominal muscles or if spinal stenosis has degenerated your spine in several areas, you may find back braces especially helpful. Some braces are designed like a corset that wraps around your back and stomach. Teenagers suffering from scoliosis may also benefit from wearing a special spine-straightening underarm brace, especially during growth spurts.
Hot and cold packs
Ice, cold packs or even bags of frozen vegetables can numb pain and alleviate swelling. Apply them to sore areas for up to 20 minutes several times a day with one hour breaks after each application. Cold therapy works best if applied immediately after the pain occurs.
After two or three days, switch to heat to relax tight muscles and improve blood flow. Heating lamps, hot pads or warm baths all produce this effect. Be careful, however, to avoid falling asleep with a heating pad to prevent burns.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) remain one of the top remedies for back pain relief. Many still use over-the-counter pain relievers to ease pain symptoms. Their effectiveness depends on the individual and the type of back pain. NSAIDs like ibuprofen (Advil) and acetaminophen (Tylenol) can help relieve some back pain. However, they have side effects, including nausea, ulcers and kidney damage (typical of NSAIDs), and acetaminophen is known to cause liver problems. Stronger painkillers like opioids carry the risk of addiction along with other symptoms like constipation. Note that these medications are only good for relieving pain and do not improve the back problem.
Dollies and carts
Whether you’re gardening or moving, these tools can help you transport heavy loads without putting strain on your back. Two- or four-wheeled dollies offer more stability than a wheelbarrow. If you must lift a heavy bag or box, use your leg muscles rather than your back, or wait until a friend or family member can help you move it safely. Always warm up with light movement and stretches first, as you would with any other type of physical activity.
Not all back pain starts in your spine. Pain and discomfort in your feet can change the way you walk, stretching the muscles and ligaments in your back past their normal range. Proper footwear can reduce this risk and keep your spine in alignment. Choose flats, or if you must wear heels, keep them under an inch high.
Regular exercise keeps your weight in check, easing strain on your back. It also strengthens the muscles that support your spine. In addition to walking, swimming ranks as one of the best aerobic activities to ease back pain. Check with your doctor before starting a new swimming program or exercise. You can also stop these activities if you feel pain that’s more than mild or that lasts longer than 15 minutes.
A transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) unit is a small device that can be very effective in relieving pain. A TENS unit is connected to sticky pads, called electrodes, that you place on your skin. The TENS unit sends electrical impulses through the electrodes to interact with nerve pathways in your body, helping to modulate or suppress pain signals in the brain. In the past, TENS units were prescribed by a doctor, but in recent years, several over-the-counter products have become available.
Pillows and mattresses
Having the right pillow under your head at night can help you sleep and wake up pain-free. You may also find it comfortable to put a pillow between your knees, especially if you sleep on your side or your back. For pregnant women, using a specially designed version called the Ozzlo pillow at night may alleviate back aches while you sleep and for the following day. Also, choose a firm mattress rather than a soft one.
Got a question, or anything I can help with? My name is Steve Stretton, and I’m the owner and manager at Gelpacks.com. You can drop me a line here. Good luck!