A bout of lower back pain will happen to most of at some point in our lives. The good news is, as many as 90% of all episodes of back pain resolve within six weeks, no matter if the episodes are caused by injury or a structural or nerve problem. Here are several ways to effectively relieve lower back pain – and prevent it from recurring.
Address the Pain
It’s difficult to come up with a plan of action for your lower back pain while in the middle of an episode, so your first course of action may be to take a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (also known as an NSAID) to help ease your pain. Ibuprofen and naproxen are two readily available over-the-counter NSAIDs. Research shows that NSAIDs are slightly better at giving relief to lower back pain sufferers than their counterpart, acetaminophen. Taking an NSAID should be a short-term answer to an acute pain problem, not a longer-term solution. NSAIDs can cause gastrointestinal problems if taken over long periods, so consult your physician if you feel the need to take them for longer than ten days.
Take the Heat (and Cold)
For the first 48 hours after lower back pain sets in, an ice pack is a must. Use it on the affected area for twenty minutes several times per day. Cooling your lower back down using ice will shut down capillaries and reduce blood flow to the area. Reduced blood flow will result in reduced swelling. Cold also puts a damper on your nerves’ ability to conduct pain signals.
After the initial two-day ice pack treatment, switch to heat. Again, twenty minute sessions a few times each day is ideal. This heat treatment will loosen tight muscles and increase circulation.
Call Your Chiropractor
Even if pain manifests itself in the lower back, the problem often lies with the entire spine. A chiropractor can gently manipulate the spine, adjusting and aligning the vertebrae. Often, people call a chiropractor only when they have a problem with back pain. It’s smarter to think of a chiropractor as someone who can help keep back pain at bay, preventing it before it has a chance to set in. People who opt for less invasive treatment for lower back pain – such as chiropractic care – generally experience fewer complications than those who pursue a more aggressive approach that may involve injections, narcotics, or surgery.
Take Advantage of Alternatives
In addition to chiropractic care, there are other alternatives to invasive treatments for lower back pain. Weekly massages have been shown to lessen pain and disability after ten weeks, whether the massages were targeted at the lower back or simply an overall rubdown. A 2013 review of acupuncture studies showed that, over 1,100 people, this Chinese medicine technique improved lower back pain better than simulated treatments and, in some cases, even NSAIDs. Acupuncture has many benefits, but the one that helps the most with lower back pain is the needle’s ability to change the way your nerves react to pain, thus reducing inflammation around joints.
Once your doctor has given you the go-ahead and your pain has receded, work to prevent lower back pain by strengthening the muscles supporting it. Keeping these supporting muscles strong helps you maintain proper posture, which in turn helps your back maintain its proper alignment. Hip, abdominal, and pelvic muscles play a part, too. If needed, a physical therapist can prescribe a regimen to help keep these muscles flexible and strong. Yoga is often a great first step toward building a strong core and back. Be sure to consult with your doctor to make sure you’re ready for physical activity targeting the back.
Our chiropractor in El Cajon, can help relieve your lower back pain and set up a program to help prevent it from recurring. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.