Chronic back pain is a difficult and debilitating condition. Years of doctors appointments and provisional remedies often bring little relief. Luckily, there are some sound methods for treating back pain at home. These remedies are not magical, permanent solutions, but they can provide relief from persistent symptoms and help improve your quality of life. Here are five common at-home treatments and how they might be able to help.
Get Into a Stretching and Exercising Routine
By strengthening the muscles around your spine, many common and easy-to-perform exercises can help diminish pain. Push ups strengthen not only your arms, but your core muscles as well. Crunches (but NOT full-fledged sit-ups) can strengthen abdominal muscles without injuring your back. Pelvic thrusts are another great option.
Stretching helps eliminate the muscle tension that often contributes to back pain. Be careful and go slow, always giving up a stretch that causes you additional pain. Try to include some hamstring stretches in your routine, since, surprising as it may be, your upper leg muscles can help diminish lower back pain.
Yoga routines combine excellent stretches with a mindfulness component that might also bring relief.
Prioritize Improving Your Posture
Your slumping tendencies are often much more than an aesthetic problem, putting undue pressure on your spine and causing chronic back pain. Maintaining good posture is especially important if you spend your days working at a computer.
Try to be mindful of your posture throughout the day. When you’re sitting at a computer, you should keep both your feet flat on the ground with your back held as straight as possible. A simple sticky note beside your screen can serve as a helpful reminder.
Massages feel good, and, when you’re suffering from chronic back pain, you might agree with Kris Kristofferson’s assertion that “feeling good is good enough for me.” Studies have shown that massages along with other treatments can have genuine benefits, from a reduction in pain to an increase in back function. Massages have been shown to make anti-inflammatory medications unnecessary and grant formerly bed-ridden patients greater mobility.
There are massage therapists out there to give “relaxation” and “structural” massages, with both proving to be equally effective in combating back pain. If you don’t have the resources for a professional therapist, consider asking a partner, relative, or friend for a massage. Even these informal sessions can do a world of good for an aching back.
Oils, Ointments, and Creams
Applying medications and natural treatments to the skin around your spine can be just as effective as taking them orally. Capsaicin, ibuprofen, cayenne, and Brazilian arnica are just some of the many ingredients that, when included in a topical cream, are known to bring relief. Lavender oil has also been shown to bring positive results.
Icy Hot and similar products can help with pain, but be careful because they can also irritate your skin. It is a good idea to apply the product to just a small area your first time trying it, giving yourself a chance to see how your skin reacts.
Change Your Sleeping Position
While you’re sleeping, your mind might not be conscious but your body is as susceptible to physical damage as it is during your waking hours. Certain sleeping positions expose your back to unnecessary strain, while others tend to bring relief.
If you can, avoid sleeping on your stomach, which is known to harm your back. If you can’t fall asleep in any other position, place a pillow under your stomach to minimize the damage.
If you sleep on your side, then the simple act of wedging a pillow between your knees lessens tension in your back muscles. And if you want to get extreme, try sleeping on the floor with your feet elevated on a pillow. This strange position might take some getting used to, but it can also bring major relief.