There are a few reasons back pain is so prevalent. For one, the muscles in the back are large, and they support a large portion of the body’s total weight. Every time we sit, stand, walk, or workout, we use our back muscles. When these muscles suffer injuries or overuse, pain crops up.
For people living with back pain, the options can seem limited. Fortunately, there are many things you can do to resolve your back pain without turning to dangerous, addictive painkillers.
Understanding the Lower Back
Before you can treat your lower back pain, you’ve got to understand what the system is made up of. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS):
“The lower back where most back pain occurs includes the five vertebrae (referred to as L1-L5) in the lumbar region, which supports much of the weight of the upper body. The spaces between the vertebrae are maintained by round and rubbery pads called intervertebral discs that act like shock absorbers throughout the spinal column to cushion the bones as the body moves. Bands of tissue known as ligaments hold the vertebrae in place, and tendons attach the muscles to the spinal column. Thirty-one pairs of nerves are rooted to the spinal cord, and they control body movements and transmit signals from the body to the brain.”
As you can tell, this is a system with many moving parts. When anything mechanical goes wrong in any part of the system, back pain ensues. Whether the underlying issue is a strain or sprain, or the degeneration of one of those critical discs, dealing with back pain requires an immediate and comprehensive approach.
5 Drug-Free Ways to Soothe Lower Back Pain
Whether your back pain is acute, or you’ve been dealing with it your whole life, there are several effective ways to resolve it. Here are a few of the top recommendations we give our clients:
1. Get Active
If you’re in pain, it might seem like movement is the last thing you need. The truth, however, is that movement increases the mobility of muscular and skeletal structures, loosens tense eye muscles, and builds strength in the back’s various systems. Additionally, exercise releases endorphins, which limit the body’s perception of pain and helps improve your mood.
According to NINDS:
“Bed rest should be limited. Individuals should begin stretching exercises and resume normal daily activities as soon as possible while avoiding movements that aggravate pain. Strong evidence shows that persons who continue their activities without bed rest following onset of low back pain appeared to have better back flexibility than those who rested in bed for a week. Other studies suggest that bed rest alone may make back pain worse and can lead to secondary complications such as depression, decreased muscle tone, and blood clots in the legs.”
With this in mind, adopt mild to moderate exercise as quickly as possible after your back pain begins. Yoga and swimming are particularly effective as the area full-body workouts that require minimal impact.
2. Apply Heat and Cold
According to a wide variety of studies, applying warm and cold compresses to a painful back is an excellent way to limit pain. If you’d like to try this therapy, be sure to follow these guidelines:
- Always use warm compresses, never hot
- Wrap cold compresses in a dish towel or old t-shirt to avoid freezing and injuring skin
- Ice packs are most effective when applied immediately after an injury, as it helps to reduce inflammation
- Start with the application of a cold compress, which will provide a numbing effect. From there, apply a gentle, warm compress to relax muscles and soothe away the pain
- Limit your application of a cold compress to twenty minutes at a time
If you want on-the-go relief, you can also use Icy-Hot Patches, or something similar.
3. Apply Arnica
Arnica is a naturally-occurring compound that’s excellent for homeopathic pain relief. Gentle enough to apply directly to the skin, arnica is an excellent treatment option for bruising, pain, swelling, and minor impact injuries. To find an arnica formula that works for you, head to your local health food store or pharmacy. Arnica is widely available over the counter, as a gel or cream.
Stretching, like regular exercise, is a great way to restore mobility and build strength in the back. Keep in mind, though, that not all stretches are created equal for back pain. While some target sore muscles and problem areas beautifully, others are too intense for injured regions of the back. With this in mind, try these four stretches to start with:
If you want to take your stretch even further, join a local yoga class or speak to your doctor or chiropractor about additional poses that would be good for your back.
5. See Your Chiropractor
Chiropractic care is essential for anyone suffering from low back pain. Whether your back pain is acute or chronic, a skilled chiropractor will be able to identify the root of the issue and develop a plan to help you address it. Don’t just take our word for it, though: consider what the research says about chiropractic care and back pain:
“After an extensive study of all available care for low back problems, the federal Agency for Health Care Policy and Research (now the Agency for Health Care Research and Quality) recommended that low back pain sufferers choose the most conservative care first. And it recommended spinal manipulation as the only safe and effective, drugless form of initial professional treatment for acute low back problems in adults.”
“A well-respected review of the evidence in the Annals of Internal Medicine pointed to chiropractic care as one of the major nondrug therapies considered effective for acute and chronic low back pain.”
Banish Your Back Pain Today
Stop suffering from low back pain. By adopting some healthy habits, like exercise, stretching, and topical treatments, you can resolve much of your back pain at home. When you partner with a skilled chiropractor, you can take the final step toward resolving your back pain for good, and leading the pain-free life you want.
Ready to schedule your adjustment or consultation? Contact our team today.