Home Remedies for Lower Back Pain
Back pain is one of the most common physical ailments. Studies show that eight in ten Americans suffer from back pain at some point in their lives, usually in the lower back.
You might have stepped on it while working in the yard or cleaning the house. Or your back could be hurting from an old sports injury or a chronic illness such as arthritis or ankylosing spondylitis.
Sudden or severe back pain should be controlled by a doctor or physiotherapist. This also applies to the pain that will not go away.
But sometimes you can deal with the lingering pain and discomfort on your own.
Wilson Ray, MD, chief of spine surgery for the Department of Neurological Surgery at Washington University St.Louis School of Medicine, says home remedies “tend to be best when they are. combined that [when done] alone.”
1. Keep moving
You might not want to when you are in pain. But it’s probably the first thing your doctor will recommend.
“A common misconception among patients with isolated back pain is that they can’t stay active,” says Ray.
Try to keep up with your usual level of daily activity and movement. It can be a brisk 30-minute walk or walk around the block with your dog. Try to get up at least three times a week.
Being sedentary “allows the muscles around the spine and back to weaken,” says Salman Hemani, MD, assistant professor of orthopedics at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta. “This in turn can reduce spinal support” and lead to pain in the long run.
2. Stretch and strengthen
Strong muscles, especially in the abdominal core, help support your back. Strength and flexibility can help both relieve your pain and prevent it.
“A lot of times I encourage people to do this first thing in the morning,” Ray says. But if you’re older or worried about overdoing it, you can stretch and do your strengthening exercises later in the day when your body is warmed up.
Yoga, Pilates, and tai chi are just a few of the ways to strengthen your core and the muscles around your hips. One exercise that targets your entire upper and lower back is to lie on your stomach and lift your legs and arms into a flight position.
3. Keep good posture
It helps relieve the pressure on the lower back. You can use duct tape, straps, or stretch bands to help keep your spine aligned. Try to keep your head centered on your pelvis. Do not twist your shoulders or stretch your chin forward.
If you’re working in front of a screen, rest your arms evenly on the table or desk, and keep your eyes level with the top of the screen. Get up from your chair, stretch, and walk regularly.
4. Maintain a healthy weight
Losing extra pounds lightens the load on the lower back.
“Losing weight really helps [with pain] because it reduces the amount of mechanical force on the spine, ”says Hemani.
If you need help, ask your doctor for advice on a diet and exercise program that may be best for you.
5. Stop smoking
Research suggests that if you smoke, you may be four times more likely than non-smokers to have degenerative disc disease or other spinal problems.
The nicotine in cigarettes and other tobacco products can weaken your bones in the spine and remove essential nutrients from the spongy discs that cushion your joints. A healthy spine keeps your flexible back and its muscles from getting stiff and sore.
6. Try Ice and Heat
You may have heard that one is better at relieving back pain than the other. The short answer is, the best option is the one that’s right for you.
“Some people come in and swear by the heat or the ice,” says Ray. “You may want to try both, and you will probably find that one is better suited for your relief.”
Usually, ice is best if your back is bothered by swelling or inflammation. A heating pad may be best if you are trying to relax stiff or tense muscles.
Hemani suggests limiting ice or heat treatment to 20 minutes at a time. And don’t use them if you also apply muscle pain creams or ointments to your skin.
7. Know your over-the-counter medications
Over-the-counter pain relievers can help relieve aches and stiff muscles. The two main types of over-the-counter options are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and acetaminophen. NSAIDs include aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen.
True to their name, NSAIDs help reduce inflammation which can lead to swelling and tenderness. But acetaminophen does not relieve inflammation. You can use either type of pain reliever for occasional back pain. NSAIDs may work a little better, says Hemani, if you have arthritis of the spine or other inflammatory conditions.
8. Rub on medicated creams
Skin creams, ointments, ointments, or patches can help when your back is stiff, sore, and tense. Many of these products contain ingredients such as menthol, camphor, or lidocaine which can cool, heat, or numb the affected area.
Put creams where it hurts. Have someone apply it if you’re having trouble reaching the spot.
“It won’t be a mainstay in bringing significant relief, but it can calm things down,” Ray says.
9. Learn about supplements
It is best to get your vitamins and minerals from foods. But ask your doctor if any supplements might help.
For example, many people don’t get enough vitamin D, which is important for bone health. This can happen because of a lack of exposure to the sun or your body cannot absorb enough vitamin D from food.
Magnesium deficiency can lead to muscle weakness and cramps. And Hemani says turmeric, a bright yellow spice related to ginger, can help calm inflammation.
Always talk to your doctor before taking any supplements.
10. Throw in the towel
A rolled-up towel can be a handy tool for back pain relief. Try to put it under your pelvis when you are lying down. Let your hips relax on the towel and help stretch the tension in your lower back.
A back splint can sometimes help, especially after an injury or surgery. But they’re not meant to be worn too often or for too long. “People get addicted to it, and it actually allows those muscles to get lazy,” says Ray.
No matter what home treatment you try, Hemani says, “If it helps, if it makes you feel better, keep doing it.
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