Dealing with lower back pain?
You’re not alone. According to Penn Medicine, 85% of adults experience back pain.
Whether you experience occasional flare ups of back pain or live with day-to day discomfort, you have probably asked yourself this question: how can I reduce my lower back pain?
If your lower back pain is the result of a serious injury or disease, this question should be answered by a doctor. But, for many adults dealing with back pain, the discomfort can be alleviated by at-home solutions:
Strong muscles help support the spine all day, every day. Without muscle strength in important areas like the back and abdomen, your spine has to do extra work. This means that weak muscles in the back and abdomen can put extra stress on the spine, resulting in back pain.
For this reason, regular exercise is a great way to help reduce lower back pain. Since the back and abdominal muscles directly work to support the spine, strengthening these muscle groups may help reduce lower back pain.
General aerobic exercise can also help. When it comes to aerobic exercises for back pain, low impact is the name of the game. High impact exercises such as running or contact sports can make back injuries or back pain worse by putting too much stress on the spine. That means that low-impact exercises that work the muscles but don’t cause stress, such as walking, swimming and stretching, are the best call.
Always check with your doctor before starting an exercise program and to get a list of physician-approved, helpful exercises.
Stretching goes hand in hand with exercise. But stretching targets a different source of back pain: muscle tension. Muscle tension or tightness is a common source of pain, but daily lower back stretches focusing on the affected muscles can help. Check with your doctor before trying stretches at home to make sure you are stretching the right area and not at risk of injuring yourself.
Excess weight increases the strain on your back, so maintaining a healthy diet can moderate your weight and help reduce lower back pain. Your diet should include the daily recommended intake of calcium, phosphorus and vitamin D to encourage healthy bone growth. If you don’t want to worry about getting enough of each of these vitamins and minerals every day, there are multivitamins that include all 3 for convenience.
Over-the-counter medications and topical pain relievers
A good option for dealing with back pain is to target the pain itself. This can be done using over-the-counter (OTC) medications. Anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen, acetaminophen or naproxen sodium may help relieve acute back pain. Topical pain relievers are also a good option for pain relief. Whether you prefer topical pain relief gel that you can rub in at the site of pain or hot/cold medicated patches that you can apply and leave on, both can help deliver pain relief.
OTC medications should be used only as directed by your doctor. Sometimes medication can cause negative side effects; stop using medication if you experience any negative side effects. If over-the-counter medications or topical pain relievers don’t help, talk to your doctor about other pain management options.
Heat therapy uses warmth to help target back pain and tension. Heat pads warm the affected area, which helps provide non-medicated pain relief to sore, aching muscles.
Back Support Orthoses
An orthosis, or a corrective brace, is a great medical tool for providing compression and physical support to affected areas of the back. Orthoses come in many shapes and sizes, so some are designed for lumbar support while others provide universal support to the back.
Back pain can be frustrating, but you can use these methods to help reduce your back pain at home. At-home remedies may not work for everyone, but your options do not end here. You can always talk to your doctor about physical therapy or surgery. If your pain continues or worsens, visit your doctor immediately.