5 Pain Management Techniques for Lower Back Troubles
Across the country, millions of people are suffering from lower back pain right now, with millions more predicted to have this type of pain occur at some stage during their life. In fact, according to government reports, at least 80 percent of the population will end up dealing with lower back pain at some point in time. As well, this issue is one of the most common causes of disability in adults in the USA, and results in, it is estimated, over 100 days of lost work every year.
If you’re currently in this situation yourself, or have a loved one who is, it’s important to be aware of some of the best pain management techniques which are available, aside from simply dosing up on medication. Read on for five top strategies which can be tested out today.
1. Sit and Stand Straighter
While having bad posture can create back issues, it can also exacerbate them if you’re already in pain. As a result, it is recommended that you do what you can to improve your posture. You should work on sitting and standing straighter each day, as well as lifting, bending and otherwise moving in a safe and efficient way at all times.
If you’re like many people and sit down for hours at a time to work, watch TV, or play games, you probably end up slumped in your chair, hunching over to look at a screen, or reaching at an awkward angle to type. If so, this will be contributing to your lower back pain and needs to be remedied as soon as possible. Make sure you use an ergonomic chair at work and place your computer at a good height so you’re not looking down; give yourself reminders to lower your shoulders and pull your neck back; and make sure you take regular breaks to move about.
Anytime you need to move heavy or awkward objects, you should also focus on doing so with proper posture. Avoid letting your back take most of the weight; instead you need to bend at the knees so that your legs drive the movement and do more of the work. You should also keep the item close to your body as you move, and steer clear of twisting as you lift, as this can really make your pain worse.
2. Apply Heat and Ice
In the first couple of days after you notice back pain, applying an ice pack to the affected area can help with discomfort. Ice can be used several times each day, for approximately 20 minutes per session, to ease swelling by way of restricting blood flow and shutting down capillaries. When swelling is reduced, your nerves will have less ability to conduct pain signals to your brain, which will in turn help to reduce pain levels.
After the first 24 to 48 hours of your pain setting in (this will vary according to your specific problem and cause of injury), you can then also start to apply heating pads to your back, or take hot baths. Again, keep these intervals to 20 minutes at a time so that you don’t overdo it. Heat placed against the sore areas will increase circulation, bring more oxygen to your cells, and help to loosen tight muscles.
3. Choose a More Suitable Mattress
It’s not something enough people consider when they’re struggling with back pain, but the fact is that the mattress you lie on when you sleep can be causing and/or exacerbating your back troubles. To help combat discomfort then, check to see if your mattress seems to be sagging; is past its prime (generally mattresses need replacing after seven or eight years); or is just too firm or soft to be healthy.
When you spend many hours each day laying on a bed that doesn’t support your back in the correct position, this can push things out of alignment. In addition, the wrong mattress can worsen a pre-existing condition and increase your pain levels. For most people, a mattress that’s in the medium to firm range is best, but speak to your doctor or other practitioner for specific advice.
4. Add Movement to Your Day
Another pain-management tip for lower back trouble is to add more movement to your day. Specifically, low-impact exercises like walking and swimming are good, as are any kind of stretching and back exercises which will help your body to be more limber.
Yoga and Pilates in particular are helpful for back pain since they tend to increase flexibility, stabilize the spine, and help stop muscles from becoming too imbalanced. Gentle stretches completed before you do other exercises, go to bed, or lift anything heavy is also highly recommended.
5. Get Help from Specialists
Lastly, keep in mind that there are many pain management options at specialized treatment clinics and through practitioners such as masseuses, chiropractors, physiotherapists, osteopaths, acupuncturists and the like. Highly-trained specialists can suggest low-invasive treatments which can reduce pain significantly and help you to manage your lower-back problems over the long term.