According to the report of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, about 80% of individuals above the age of 18 experience lower back pain at some point in their lives. Not all cases require a doctor’s prescription.
Chronic back pain, which is common, can affect people in many ways. If a medical condition is chronic, it means that it persists for a long time or is constantly recurring. In the world of medicine, the opposite of chronic is acute or temporary. If something is acute, it also means that the symptoms are severe.
Chronic back pain lasts many years – even a whole lifetime. Somebody may feel acute pain, for example, when they break a bone.
Some basic exercises and natural remedies are effective in reducing the symptoms of back pain. Exercises need to be repeated several times over a period of weeks before any improvements are noticeable. Even after your pain has gone, you should continue with the exercises to make sure that the symptoms do not return.
Below are some tips for treating back pain naturally:
1. Ease morning pain
According to some studies, heat can provide short-term pain relief. Place a heating pad on the affected area. It can help reduce inflammation and relax your muscles. You could also try taking a hot shower or bath.
Be careful with heating pads. Do not set them too high. Never fall asleep with a heating pad against your skin.
Cold therapy may also help. There are many options for cold therapy, including a frozen gel pack, a frozen towel, or a frozen bag of vegetables. Do not place ice or frozen objects directly on your skin. Wrap them in a cloth. Cold therapy may reduce inflammation and swelling.
2. Exercises that target specific muscles
Some simple exercises and stretches may help ease back pain, especially the lower back. They also improve your flexibility and strength. You should do these exercises daily. Combine your exercise therapy with swimming, yoga, or walking.
Make sure you consult a healthcare professional when choosing the right exercise. You should begin experiencing some degree of pain relief after two to three weeks. If your symptoms do not improve or the exercises are painful, see your doctor.
3. Proper posture
Correct posture is vital for good back health. It is more likely to prevent backache than to cure it. Proper posture combined with exercises and stretching can help alleviate muscle tension. Sitting in the right position, especially if you are not used to it, may initially feel awkward. However, if you persist, it will became a natural part of life for you.
Do not slouch. Slouching, if you do it for the first time, will not usually cause back pain immediately. However, if you keep slouching, your risk of developing back ache increases significantly over time.
Certain exercises targeting your core and buttock muscles plus back extensions can help make you sit up straight.
If you work in an office and have to spend hours sitting each day, your body could be storing up trouble, even if your posture is perfect. Get up every thirty minutes or hour and walk about. Make sure your office chair can be adjusted for good posture. Ask your boss about the best office chairs for back pain relief.
4. Yoga for Back Pain
Hatha is the most commonly used from of yoga for back pain. It incorporates a number of poses and a breathing technique called Pranayama.
Yoga can help strengthen specific muscle groups as well as individual muscles that protect your spine. These muscles also help us sit properly.
Studies have shown that yoga classes designed specifically for people with back pain are as effective and safe as physical therapy in alleviating symptoms. However, make sure that your yoga instructor is fully qualified.
Stretching has been shown to benefit people with back pain. What type of stretching exercises you should perform depends on the cause of your pain. Your lifestyle may also determine the type of stretching you should do.
For many people with back pain, a course of stretching exercises may alleviate symptoms completely, with the minimum of medical intervention (or none at all).
Some back stretching machines are extremely useful. However, before you select one, talk to a health care professional. These machines are unlikely to work if you do not adopt proper posture and possibly some lifestyle changes too.
6. Positive thinking
Research has shown that positive thinking may be as effective as physical therapy, surgery, or painkillers in alleviating the symptoms of back pain.
A significant proportion of people with back pain are also being treated for depression and/or anxiety. Some of them have had suicidal thoughts. Living with back pain is not nice. It can make you miserable. Feeling miserable means you have negative thoughts, which can exacerbate your back pain.
Researchers at Warwick University in England in 2010 found that patients who received cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) improved faster and better than their counterparts who received treatments without CBT.
Therapists use CBT to treat stress at work, phobias, panic attacks, and many other problems. The researchers believe that when patients can overcome negative thoughts, their symptoms improve. Put simply; a positive mental attitude can help patients with back pain.
7. Seek chiropractic care
Chiropractors focus on diagnosing and treating patients with bone, muscle, and joint disorders. They focus on manipulating the patient’s spine but may also include different techniques.
Chiropractors are especially interested in patients with neck pain and back pain. If you have back pain that has not improved, you should consider trying manual therapy
8. See a specialist
Most basic back pain will begin to improve within a couple of weeks with the right exercises and stretching sessions. If you have tried light exercises, stretching, and other therapies, but your symptoms persist or get worse, you will need to see a specialist.
What type of doctor you see will depend on the cause of your back pain. Your GP (general practitioner) will know who you should visit. You may need a neurosurgeon, an orthopedic spine surgeon, a sports medicine specialist, or a pain management specialist. Rheumatologists deal with back pain related to osteoporosis or arthritis.
If you experience weakness, tingling, numbness, or a pain in the leg that persists for more than three months of treatment, you may require surgery to decompress the nerves. Decompressing the nerves alleviates pressure, which reduces pain.