Lower back pain is one of the most common chronic ailments faced by people in the modern world. It can range from minor discomfort to intense and throbbing aches that become severely debilitating.
The pain can make it difficult to perform basic functions like walking, picking up everyday objects, or traveling to do chores. Long distance travel is often out of the question.
It can even affect one’s mental state, leading to anxiety and even depression. How could it not? The struggle of being in pain and knowing that every day will bring more of the same can easily become a crushing mental burden.
Treatments for chronic pain can be problematic in their own right. Over the counter medications like ibuprofen or acetominophen/paracetamol can cause damage to the stomach or liver. Prescription medications can lead to addiction, which makes many doctors reluctant to prescribe them.
Fortunately, there are simple home remedies that can be taken to help alleviate back pain. These are not necessarily cures; the causes of pain are complex and each requires its own specific treatment.
Always, always consult your doctor before attempting to treat back pain on your own. However, if you have your physician’s blessing, consider these five simple home remedies.
1. Massage Chairs
Getting a massage can be an expensive proposition. Many masseuses are aligned with medical or fitness institutions, requiring gym memberships or other expensive fees.
Fortunately, for a fraction of the cost of repeated visits to a masseuse, there are a number of reasonably priced massage chairs on the market. These can provide a simple, no-effort way to sit back and experience some modest relief from pain symptoms.
The therapeutic benefits of massage therapy are well documented, so you should try to take advantage of it in any way you can.
2. Stay Mobile
A natural response to persistent pain is to relax the area, not moving it around to cause more pain. However, much of lower pain can be caused by the very inactivity we’re using to try and alleviate it.
Instead, find a way to keep moving the area as much as you are able. Take a short walk, or engage in simple exercises that work the muscles in the affected area. Movement improves circulation and muscle strength, helping combat structural problems that could be causing the trouble.
3. Ice, Not Heat
When pain is caused by injury, such as lifting something and feeling a responding spasm in the back, a natural instinct is to apply a warm substance to the area. The problem is, the extra heat may exacerbate the inflammation that is causing the pain to begin with. The heat merely masks the agony while potentially making the damage worse.
In the case of an acute pain from injury, respond with ice rather than heat. Cool the area to reduce the inflammation response. If the problem persists for longer than 24 hours or so, you can switch to heat for relief.
As a rule of thumb; ice it right after, heat it much later.
4. Strengthen Your Core
If your doctor clears you for exercise, you should engage in core muscle exercises to strengthen your body’s center muscles. This includes back muscles, abdominals, pectorals, shoulders, and more.
The activities can be quite simple, including situps, squats, or staying upright while sitting on a pilates or balance ball. Improving core muscle strength can take pressure off over-stressed muscles in your back, relieving one potential cause of pain.
You can also use variety of exercise machines to perform exercises. This includes adjustable dumbbells, rowers, elliptical machines and recumbent bikes. You can also try using home treadmill which will not help you to lose weight but strengthen up your core muscles.
5. Distract Yourself
Part of the trouble with lower back pain is that it is so attention-getting. It’s always there, making us focus on it. The constant presence of it often makes it feel worse than it actually is.
Therefore, find healthy and productive ways to engage your mind to get the sensation of discomfort out of the forefront of your attention. Spend time in conversation with friends, engage in a favorite hobby that doesn’t stress your ache too much, or watch a favorite program.