How to relieve back pain
Back pain or backache is a common type of pain that may affect any age group depending on the cause.
The most common ways to relieve back pain include:
- Applying a cold compress to the painful area is effective. It is usually recommended to use ice therapy for a few days when suffering from back pain. Using ice wrapped in cloth for 10-15 minutes 2 times a day may help.
- Maintaining good posture is important. Slouching and bending over the keyboard all day may cause back pain. Using a proper chair with good back support while working and standing up every 30 minutes to stretch back muscle may help.
- Sleeping in a curled-up or fetal position with a pillow between the legs may help in relieving back pain. In the case of patients sleeping on their backs, it may be recommended to place a pillow or rolled towel under their knees to relieve the pain and pressure.
- Limiting physical activities for a few days may relieve back pain. However, the patient may need to be active and should not sleep for long periods because it may increase back stiffness. Resuming normal activities as soon as possible may ease the pain; bed rest is usually not recommended for back pain. In the case of women, they may need to avoid high heels.
- Eating healthy and nutrient-rich food may help in relieving and preventing back pain. As per research, deficiency of Vitamin D, Vitamin B12, and Magnesium could be a reason for never-ending back pain. Foods that are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids (found in fish) and antioxidants (colorful fruit and vegetables) can be included in the diet to help in pain relief.
- Stretching the body or back muscles before and after sleep may sometimes help in relieving and preventing back pain.
- Changing an old mattress. The average life span of a mattress is less than 10 years. As per research, people with back pain who sleep on medium-firm mattresses do better than those with firm beds.
- Staying positive and active by doing a few exercises that strengthen the core or abdominal muscles may help in a speedy recovery from lower back pain.
- Back massages may be beneficial to recover from back pain. A study found that people who took back massages for 10 weeks recovered sooner without many medical interventions.
- Using topical analgesic balms and taking over the counter pain relievers, such as Acetaminophen (Tylenol), Naproxen (Aleve), and Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), are the most effective ways to relieve back pain.
- Prescribed analgesics, opioids, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are the most effective way to relieve back pain. However, these may be used only for a short period because they are addictive, can aggravate depression, and have other side effects.
- Anticonvulsants are primarily used to treat seizures. Sometimes, they may be useful in treating people with back pain, especially if it is caused by sciatica.
- Antidepressants like Tricyclics, Serotonin, and Norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors are usually prescribed for chronic lower back pain by a physician.
- Epidural injections may be prescribed sometimes to patients with severe back pain.
- Trigger point injections may also relax knotted muscles (trigger points), which may have contributed to the back pain. An injection or a series of injections of a local anesthetic and often a corticosteroid drug are applied to the trigger point(s) to lessen or relieve pain.
- Radiofrequency ablation involves inserting a fine needle into the area causing the pain through which an electrode is passed and then, it is heated to destroy nerve fibers that carry pain signals to the brain.
Few common surgeries:
- Spinal fusion: It permanently connects two vertebrae together using a bone graft.
- Artificial disc replacement: It is usually done for treating damaged discs. The procedure involves removing the disc and replacing it with a synthetic disc that helps restore height and movement between the vertebrae.
- Lumbar decompression: This procedure usually involves removing structures that are pressing on a nerve root either by microdiscectomy, where the protruding pieces of a herniated disc are removed under a microscopic view or by laminectomy, which is a more open type of surgery, where the facet joints may be trimmed to resolve disc problems.
- Kyphoplasty and Vertebroplasty: It involves the insertion of a balloon to expand a compressed vertebra, followed by the injection of bone cement into the vertebra. This procedure is usually done for compression fractures or osteoporosis.
- Interspinous spacers: These are small devices that are inserted into the spine to keep the spinal canal open and avoid pinching the nerves. It is used to treat people with spinal stenosis.
- A physical therapist or chiropractor may plan an exercise regime to prevent back pain. Developing an individualized exercise plan is essential to manage and prevent severe back pain. Patients may need core strengthening exercises for stretching and improving flexibility. This must be started only after consulting your specialist doctor.
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