There are few people on the planet who have not experienced some form of back pain in their lives. From stiffness after a hard workout to pain from a slipped disc, most people want to know how they can treat their back pain from home while they wait to be seen by a doctor.
Alternate Ice and Heat. But not too much.
Pain is generally a sign of inflammation. Muscles are sore after a workout because of microtears that stimulate the body’s healing response (and in turn bigger muscles). A slipped disc causes inflammation in the muscle, nerves and soft tissue in the back. Ice is nature’s way of limiting the inflammatory response in the body. Wrap a bag of frozen corn or peas in a thin towel and apply the makeshift ice pack to the part of your back that hurts. Remove the ice pack after 10 minutes and repeat as needed. Never apply an ice pack directly to the skin as it can damage the skin itself.
Even though ice is great for inflammation, it does not often ease muscle spasms or tension. Heat, on the other hand, is the perfect remedy. Soaking in a warm bath can help loosen stiff joints and relax aching muscles.
Get up and move.
We know what you’re thinking. “But my back hurts, I just want to lay down.”
Resist that urge. Movement works like joint butter. The more you move, the more blood flows through your body, the better your joints move including the joints in your spine that are so often the site of back pain. That does not mean you have to go out and lift heavy weights or run a marathon. Simply walking, stretching, swimming or yoga can help you maintain mobility in your back and limit your pain.
Speaking of stretching, now is a great time to start.
How much time do you spend sitting down in a day? Chances are, too much. Even if your job is active, you likely don’t spend enough time stretching the muscles in your back and core. Yoga stretches such as downward dog and child’s pose are ideal for stretching the lower back and strengthening the core. Or try standing against the wall and rotating your pelvis back so your back is flat against the wall from shoulders to tailbone. Hold for 10 seconds and release for an extra stretch through your entire back.
Try an over-the-counter pain reliever
As long as you are not taking medications that would interact with over-the-counter pain relievers, ibuprofen, naproxen or acetaminophen are excellent for relieving pain in the short term. It is important to take them appropriately and use them for temporary relief until you can seek additional care.
Make an appointment with your chiropractor.
Speaking of additional care, it is important to address back pain as soon as it happens. Too often, we spend time hoping the pain will go away on its own when it is really an indication of a more serious condition. Don’t wait until your back pain is unbearable to seek help.