If you’re like so many other Americans across the country, you are currently suffering from lower-back pain or have at some other stage during your life. In fact, according to reports, more than 80 percent of the population will experience lower-back pain at some point; this type of pain is the second most common cause of disability in American adults. As well, it is estimated that close to 150 million days of work are lost each year due to the problem.
If you’re in the situation where lower-back pain is causing you to take time off from your job, or otherwise negatively affecting the way that you live your life, it is important to find helpful ways to treat the issue.
Read on for some strategies, besides painkillers, you can try today.
Use Heat and Ice
Within the first two days after lower-back pain sets in, it is a good idea to apply an ice pack several times a day, for around 20 minutes per session, to help reduce blood flow and shut down capillaries. This, in turn will help to ease swelling, and thwart the ability of your nerves to conduct pain signals to your brain.
Just make sure that you never apply ice directly onto your skin, as doing so can cause cold burns. All ice packs or frozen products should be wrapped in a cloth, towel, or the like first. After the first couple of days (or even earlier, depending on your particular injury or issue), you can also start to use heating pads, again for 20-minute intervals at a time. You might find that having a hot bath helps too. Heat against the affected area(s) will help to loosen tight muscles in your back, increase circulation, and bring additional oxygen to your cells.
Incorporate Gentle Exercise and Stretching Into Your Day
When you’re suffering from back pain, it can be tempting to sit or lie down all day, and to abstain from exercise. However, it is important to keep your body moving. Besides doing low-impact exercises such as walking and swimming, you should also try to do plenty of stretching and back exercises. This can help to increase your flexibility, and stabilize your spine and stop your muscles from being so imbalanced.
While yoga and Pilates in particular, can be great for lower-back pain, really just any gentle stretching will make a difference. You can do this at home and at work on a regular basis, as well as within a clinic if you’d like to join classes. It also pays to do some stretches before you need to lift anything, exercise, or head to bed. This will help your muscles to be suppler, and ensure that you don’t hurt yourself further.
Improve Your Posture
Similarly, people who are suffering from lower-back pain are also advised to try to improve their posture. Having bad posture (particularly when you’re sitting at a desk or on the couch, or standing on your feet for hours) and lifting improperly, can contribute to back issues.
You should ensure that you’re sitting in an ergonomic chair at work, and that you don’t have to slump forward, scrunch up, or reach to do your work. As well, try to keep your ears over your shoulders, rather than letting your neck push forward. Keep the rest of your body in line too (with shoulders over hips, and hips over ankles) to achieve better posture.
When lifting things, especially heavy objects, it is imperative that you don’t let your back take the weight. You should bend at the knees, so that your legs do the work; and keep the item you’re lifting close to your body as you rise. Don’t twist your body as you lift either, as this can make lower-back pain worse.
Try Specialist Therapies
Next, don’t forget that there are lots of highly trained specialists out there you can choose from to treat your back. Many people like to visit their masseuse, physiotherapist, chiropractor, or osteopath, for instance, when they have back pain; or you can also utilize other options such as acupuncture, the Alexander technique, or a specialist clinic for back pain in Pennsylvania for treatment suggestions.
It also often helps to seek psychological support when you’re dealing with intense and/or chronic back pain. While the pain you feel is certainly real, therapists can help you to find ways to change how you think about your situation, and how to be less stressed, switch off from the pain, and focus on other things. Meditation can also be very helpful.
Buy a Better Mattress for Your Bed
Another thing that you should think about is the mattress on your bed. Check it out to see if it is sagging significantly, or if it is super firm or very soft. As well, if it is older than around seven or eight years old, it may need replacing.
If you sleep on a mattress that is too soft, firm, or sagging, this can push your back out of alignment, as well as exacerbate pre-existing conditions. It’s best to look for new products, which are in the medium-firm range.