If you’ve ever had it, you’ll know that back pain is one of the most challenging discomforts. Even a short bout of back pain can deeply affect your life, but chronic back pain can nearly ruin it.
Below are 13 common ways to relieve your back pain.
1. Try to Get Better Sleep
Getting a good night’s sleep when your back hurts can be tough. Unfortunately not getting enough sleep can worsen your pain. Similarly, your sleep position can aggravate pain and discomfort. One thing you can try is lying on your side. Putting a pillow between your legs can help relieve the strain on your back by keeping your spine in a neutral position. You can also put a pillow under your knees if you need to sleep on your back. Many say that a firm mattress is best.
2. Keep Good Posture
Turns out Mom was right—slouching is not good for you. It can create back pain, but it can also make it worse. Slumping over a keyboard is especially bad for your back, especially if you sit for long periods. Instead, endeavor to sit upright, keeping your shoulders relaxed, but support your body against the back of your chair, while keeping your feet flat on the floor. Another helpful hint: put a rolled towel or a pillow between your seat and your lower back.
3. Use Ice and Heat
You may be able to reduce your pain with regular applications of ice, especially if you have inflammation from an injury. Do this for 20 minutes at a time, several times a day. Wrapping the ice in a thin cloth or towel will protect your skin. After a few days of this, change to heat. Applying a heating pack or pad will increase blood flow to the area, and help relax your muscles. Warm baths can also help.
4. Manual Manipulation
Some people wonder if massage really benefits back pain, but a recent study shows that getting a weekly massage over 10 weeks improves pain and functioning for people with chronic back pain. This study showed that these benefits lasted as long as 6 months. Spinal manipulation performed by a licensed specialist can help restore any lost mobility by relieving structural problems.
5. Physical Therapy
You can learn a lot from a physical therapist. They can teach you how to sit and stand properly, and how to move in ways that keep your spine in alignment and alleviates any strain on your back. You can also learn exercises that strengthen your core muscles. A strong core can help prevent future back pain. It can take time, but studies show that you can decrease back pain by increasing your endurance, flexibility, and strength.
6. Over the Counter Medication
The most common over-the-counter (OTC) medications are NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) like aspirin or ibuprofen, and acetaminophen (brand name Tylenol). Some people cannot take these medications, though both have side effects. It’s important to talk to your doctor before taking OTC pain relievers. They are not likely to resolve your pain longterm. Multiple forms of treatment will probably be more successful.
7. Prescription Pain Meds
Some pain merits prescription medication. As always, it’s vital that you speak with your doctor and pharmacist about all medications you are taking, to avoid any problems. For back pain, you’ll likely be prescribed opioids or muscle relaxants. Opioids are controversial due to the high incidence of dependency (addiction) and overdosing due to mixing medications and errors.
It might seem counterintuitive, but sometimes doctors prescribe antidepressant medications for chronic back pain. They don’t understand exactly why, but antidepressants can help with back pain. Some think they work to influence the chemical messengers that affect pain signals.
9. Stimulating Nerves
Research shows that certain treatments involving nerve stimulation can reduce back pain. Acupuncture may be a good addition to your treatment plan. Another nerve stimulation method called transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) may also be beneficial. TENS sends mild electrical pulses to your nerves and blocks pain signals.
10. Spinal Injections
A relatively extreme method of pain relief involves a spinal injection. These medications are usually quite strong, so your doctor may limit the number of doses per year.
11. Try Biofeedback
This method of pain relief can reduce pain by roughly 30%. You use a special machine to train your brain to your breathing, blood flow, heart rate, muscle tension and ultimately, control your pain responses. One advantage to this treatment is that there are no side effects.
12. Don't Lie Still
You would think that resting a sore back would help, but lying still is actually one of the worst things you can do. Staying too still can not only make your pain worse, it can create further complications. You can rest a day or two, but beyond that, it’s better to get out of bed and move slowly. In fact, exercise has been shown to be one of the most effective ways to help with back pain. (See below for one especially effective stretch.)
13. Back Surgery
In some cases, like in the instance of a bulging disc that’s putting pressure on one of your nerves, your doctor might recommend surgery. Procedures like a discectomy, laminectomy or spinal fusion are often performed, as appropriate to the situation. However, many discourage surgery due to the high risk that comes with any surgery, and the fact they are not always successful. For these reasons, back surgeries are usually considered a last resort.
If you’re looking for the absolute fastest way to heal your back pain and sciatica…
My friend Emily is going to teach you one weird stretch that will drain the pain and tension from your back… for the entire day...
And all it takes is 30 seconds first thing in the morning.
Perform this stretch right when you wake up and you’ll notice results immediately.