Many people experience back pain in one form or another – long or short term. With around 90% of the population suffering with debilitating pain it is a relief to realise that other people are going through a similar experience to us. This high number of back pain sufferers also means that there are a number of treatment and pain relief options that can be successfully used.
Back pain can occur for many reasons and in varying degrees – sudden onset back pain, after an accident for example, may need urgent medical treatment and should certainly be investigated in order to reduce the risk of long-term damage developing.
Many people are not aware of the onset of problems in their spinal area – the pain may develop slowly over a long period or may only appear to be relatively minor. Minor back pain may develop because of bad posture whilst sitting or sleeping, it may be due to incorrect lifting or even referred pain due to another underlying medical problem. Persistent or worsening pain should be investigated by a professional medical practitioner.
Generalised back pain may be treated in a number of ways. It is possible to improve back health by making changes to posture, exercising, and implementing various simple lifestyle changes.
Sometimes back pain may require urgent medical attention – if it is accompanied by any of the following symptoms the advice of your medical practitioner should be sought as soon as possible –
loss of bladder or bowel control
severe radiating pain
Rest and relaxation
More and more of us lead extremely busy lives and find little time for proper rest and relaxation. However, niggling back pain needs to be rested in order to prevent the condition worsening – a little rest when the pain is mild may well prevent compulsory bed rest later on.
Back pain sufferers should take care to rest their back several times during the day, if possible lying down and stretching – this will alleviate the pressure from the spine and muscles as well as relieving the weight from the area. If possible, take at least four breaks of at least ten minutes each day. Of course at work it may be necessary to lie on the floor – taking a yoga mat may be a good idea. Once you have rested your back do some slow stretches before going straight back to work. It is important not to sit or stand in the same position for long periods in order to avoid stiffening of joints and muscles.
It is essential to combine any rest periods with moderate exercise in order to avoid muscle atrophy. Gentle walking or swimming will contribute to overall general fitness as well as contribute to muscle strengthening.
When sitting make sure to choose a firm chair – avoid sitting on soft sofas, if necessary choose the floor. Also ensure that your mattress is firm enough – replacing if necessary.
Natural and alternative remedies
The body produces its own natural painkillers called endorphins. Exercise and treatments such as physiotherapy, manipulation, and acupuncture may all boost the levels of endorphins in your body.
Enjoy a guilt free massage
Therapeutic massage is an excellent therapy for back pain of all kinds – done correctly a medically based massage may resolve the problem rather than simply masking the symptoms as so many painkillers do.
Therapeutic massages have a number of health benefits including improving circulation, increasing flexibility and strengthening of spinal muscles – all f which will improve the alignment of the spine. Your medical practitioner will probably be able to recommend a therapist, it is important that your chosen therapist is qualified and accredited.
Over the counter medications can help reduce inflammation and niggling back pain – it is important not to over medicate, discuss any pain therapy with your medical practitioner.
Your doctor may prescribe medication to relax muscles and/or reduce inflammation – it is essential to follow dosage instructions exactly and only use painkillers when necessary.
Hot and cold therapy
Immediately after any injury it is often useful to apply cold therapy – this may reduce inflammation and ease any muscle spasm or pain. Cold therapy may be applied in a number of ways –
Pre-packed cold packs
Ice cubes wrapped in a towel
An ice bath
Heat therapy is frequently used in order to relieve muscle tension, reduce spasm, and improve mobility. As with cold therapy, it is essential not to apply hot therapies directly to the skin but rather to wrap the therapy tool –
Hot stone massage
Talk to your medical practitioner
Persistent pain that recurs despite treatment attempts should always be investigated by a qualified doctor. A number of serious underlying medical conditions involving vital organs such as the prostate or uterus can, on occasion, cause referred pain in the back – it is essential that this type of illness is ruled out as soon as possible.
Pain that interferes with daily activity should also be investigated – particularly if the home remedies suggested above do not appear to be improving or lessening the discomfort. Even severe pain can be successfully treated using physical therapy or chiropractic adjustment.
Don’t just live with it
No one has to just live with back pain – for all but the most extreme cases there are a number of treatments that can provide relief and enable a normal routine to be maintained.