Oh My Aching Back (Pt 2)

Back pain is common and due to a variety of causes.  But, more importantly, what do we DO about it.  There are so many options from acupuncture to massage to a trip to the doctor.  Many treatments work for just a short while. Surgery may even be recommended.  Back pain can be debilitating, mood altering and downright depressing.    

Know that you can be proactive and prevent back pain and you can relief if you already are in pain.  Last week’s article covered the common causes of back pain: muscle strain, ligament sprain, poor posture, age and disc bulge.  Here are some treatments for low back pain:

Rest –  It always amazes me that rest is the No. 1 cure for most ailments. If you’ve had a back trauma, give it some space and rest.  Stop doing activities that are aggravating the pain, like prolonged sitting and heavy lifting.  But, don’t rest too long.  You want to get blood flowing to the area by doing slow, “painfree” movements like the hula, pelvic tilts or the cat/cow movement.  

Ice or Heat –  Good luck figuring this out. There is confusion about whether to use heat or ice. This article offers some information and you  may find helpful or confusing.  Ice and heat have different effects and outcomes and you may have to see what brings you the most relief. In general, according to this article, ice is for injuries and heat is for muscles, chronic pain and stress.  Heat can make inflammation worse, and ice can make muscle tension and spasms worse..

NSAIDs –  Anti-inflammatory medication such as Aspirin, Advil, Aleve, Ibuprofen or Motrin. Note:  there are side effects to NSAIDS.  Here is a link to WebMD.

Exercise –  Gentle movement and exercises can prevent back pain by strengthening the structures around the lower back to give stability and protection.  After an injury, doing exercises that “do not increase pain” can lessen the severity, duration and recurrence of low back pain.  

Sleeping Position –  A firm mattress and small pillow can prevent or ease back pain.  If you’re a back-sleeper, put a pillow under knees.  A small role under the waist or pillow between the knees can help side-sleepers.    

This is just a teeny overview.  Back pain can be complex and can have a myriad of causes.  Prevention is the key.  Next week I’ll cover some exercises that can strengthen the back and give some relief to back pain.  In the meantime, be well!