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Back pain is one of the most common medical conditions in America. Roughly eight in 10 people will have back pain at some point during their life. The causes vary. You might end up spraining it while cleaning your house or working in the yard. Sometimes it’s a chronic condition or the result of being on your feet for hours at a time. There are various ways to handle back injuries and pain in your family, depending on the severity. Sudden and severe back pain that won’t go away may require surgery.
Don’t Stop Moving
It’s hard to consider moving around when you have isolated back pain, but it will likely be recommended by your doctor. At the very least, you should make an attempt to keep up with your daily activity. Staying sedentary causes the muscles in your back to get even weaker, which results in less spinal support. This can eventually cause long-term back pain.
Increase Strength and Flexibility
Increasing your strength and flexibility can help support your back. It can not only relieve your current back pain, but it can also help prevent pain in the future. The best area to strengthen is your abdominal core as this best supports your back muscles. In terms of improving your flexibility, doctors often recommend low-impact exercises like yoga, pilates and tai chi.
Maintain Good Posture
Maintaining good posture is important for avoiding back pain in the first place. This is especially relevant if you work at a computer. Make sure to get up from your chair to walk or stretch at regular intervals.
Stay at or Get to a Healthy Weight
If excess weight is a contributing factor to your back pain, you might consider losing some extra pounds. Ask your doctor for an appropriate diet and exercise plan that you can implement right away.
Cigarette smoke can contribute to degenerative disk disease. In general, it also weakens bone density. If you currently smoke and are experiencing back pain, you should stop or work on stopping as soon as possible.
Use Ice and Heat
You might hear people say that ice is the best remedy and others say that heat is the best. The truth is, both can work. You should generally try both and see what brings you the most relief. Ice helps inflammation, but a heating pad can help stiffness and tension.
Try Medicated Creams
Another helpful remedy is medicated cream. These products contain various active ingredients such as camphor, menthol or lidocaine, which can warm, cool or numb the painful area. Put the cream on the spot where it hurts, and make sure not to use heat or ice remedies at the same time.
OTC Pain Relievers
Various nonprescription pain relievers can also help with back pain. Your primary choices are acetaminophen, aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen. The last three do help with inflammation, but acetaminophen only helps block pain.
It’s always best to get vitamins from food, but sometimes it can be difficult to get enough. For example, it’s very common in many places for people to be deficient in vitamin D. This happens when you don’t get enough sun exposure. If you stay indoors a lot, it’s easy for this to happen. Magnesium is also a common deficiency and leads to muscle weakness. You can also try taking turmeric, which some studies show works to relieve inflammation.
The Towel Method
A simple tool for relieving back pain and tension is a rolled-up towel. When you lay down, try putting the towel beneath your pelvis. It can help stretch out any tightness in your lower back. Some people invest in a back brace, which can help in the short term, but it causes muscle weakness in the long term.
When To Consider Surgery
If your back pain isn’t improving, you might wonder when it’s time to look for back surgeons (in Phoenix) or your particular locale. Common types of back surgery include discectomy, laminectomy, spinal fusion and artificial disks. It might become an option when your back pain is persistent and disabling, and other treatments haven’t worked.
When you find a home treatment for your back that relieves pain and tension, you should continue doing it. Some remedies don’t work immediately, but over time can improve your back pain.