Self Treatment at Home That May Help
Take It Easy. If you have a mild to moderate strain or muscle spasm, you should be able to resume normal activities in a day or two. However, to keep from re-injuring the injury, you'll want to use ice and an over-the-counter pain reliever until you're healed.
After the inflammation subsides, you may feel sore or stiff. To reduce this discomfort, use a heating pad or heat pack. A medium-firm mattress will make you feel more comfortable if you sleep on one side. A pillow between your knees while lying on one side can reduce the stiffness.
Make sure to get good sleep at night and be sure to exercise regularly. Your doctor can help you with these suggestions, so be sure to ask for advice.
You feel stiff. Get up from your desk and stretch your back. It will feel better and put the least amount of pressure on your back. Arch your back five to 10 times and feel the stretch.
If you're driving, take breaks from time to time. It's important to stretch your back and neck as well as take breaks from looking down.
Use a half kneel, or squat if gardening or cleaning. Stretch regularly, and try these exercises at home, in your car, or at your desk: Shoulder rolls, backwards, ten times.
Shoulder blade squeeze, 10 times. Chin in, 10 times. Chin in and slowly stretch your head back, 10 times. Turn your head over your shoulders, 10 times each way. Standing back-bend stretch, 10 times.
Diagnosis and Testing
If you are not able to move at all because of an injury, your doctor may want to check to see if there is any damage to the nerves in your spine or to your muscles. If there is, your doctor may recommend a series of tests that will tell you what is wrong and what can be done to fix it.
If you're sick with something more serious than a cold, your doctor may want to check for other things. He or she might use a series of blood tests and imaging tests to help rule out other problems. This is especially true if you also have pain in other parts of your body, and if you have a fever.
When a doctor does an MRI or CT scan of your spine, he or she can often spot problems before they cause permanent damage. Sometimes they can also help find nerve and muscle damage.
But there is a direct connection between the results of these tests and how much it hurts. Usually, imaging tests are only performed when the pain comes on suddenly or when you've been having back pain for awhile.
Back pain usually isn't caused by the spine. The exact cause is often never found, and often symptoms get better over time without specific treatment.
Treatment At Home
The basic way to relieve a strain or minor injury is to take it easy for 24 to 72 hours. Use an ice pack and an over-the-counter pain reliever such as acetaminophen, aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen. After the inflammation calms down, a heating pad or pack can help soothe muscles and connective tissue.
If you're having chronic back pain, sleep on a medium-firm mattress. You may be more comfortable if you have a pillow between your knees while lying on one side. Some doctors recommend that you lie on your back with a pillow under your knees.
Avoid slouching. This can lead to lower back pain and stiffness. Make sure you sit up straight. Don’t let your shoulders drop down. You want to keep them up and back in place. That will help your spine and shoulders.
Arch your back to help prevent back problems and stiffness. Stretch in the opposite direction after a few hours of sitting, especially if you're a driver. Switch positions every 20 minutes and take a break.
Kneel or squat when gardening or cleaning. Stretch often. This keeps your muscles in good shape so that you have good posture and you can maintain it without much effort. You can try these stretching exercises at home, at your desk, or at the gym: Shoulder rolls, back, 10 times; Shoulder blade squeeze, 10 times.
Chin in, 10 times. Chin in, and slowly stretch your head back, 10 times. Turn your head over your shoulders, 10 times each way. Standing back-bend stretch, 10 times.
Exercise and Physical Therapy
The best way to relieve back pain is exercise and physical therapy. Being inactive and lying in bed for long periods of time is not going to help your back recover.
Acute pain will subside with activity, but it can take as long as two weeks to reach the same level of activity you were doing before the injury occurred. Gradually increasing your activity is safe.
Strengthening your back and abdominal muscles will prevent future back injuries. You can learn to stretch properly to avoid muscle tears and to lift things safely.
Exercising in the water is especially safe for a sore back. It supports some of your weight, making you feel more comfortable, and it offers gentle resistance, helping you build your strength.
You can improve your flexibility and lessen pain for chronic low back problems with aquatic therapy. Yoga may help your flexibility, strength, and sense of balance. It's great for stress relief, which will also help you deal with the pain.
Physical therapy is a form of health care that helps you recover from injury or disability. It can help you regain strength, mobility, and independence.
Passive or active physical therapy focuses on easing pain. Examples of passive physical therapy include: Manual therapies. Heat or ice packs. Electrical stimulation.
There are many types of active physical therapy. Examples include: movement-based activities, including stretching and range-of-motion exercises. Specific strengthening exercises.
For each person, pain relief exercise is different. Your muscles and joints may react differently. Each body is different. To find out what works best for you, you'll need to experiment.
Physical therapists and their trained staff can help patients improve their posture and movement patterns by correcting and re-training improper movements and habits.
Pain relief is always available to help you cope when something hurts. Tylenol, aspirin, or NSAIDs such as ibuprofen and naproxen are used for pain, while muscle relaxers are given by doctors if you’re dealing with back problems or any other form of chronic pain.
But you have to be careful. These painkillers can make you sleepy. You could also become dependent on hydrocodone/acetaminophen (Vicodin), oxycodone/acetaminophen (Percocet), or other medications with opioids in them.
If you're suffering from chronic pain related to irritated nerves, you might want to consider taking an antidepressant. They may help with arthritis and chronic lower back pain. Doctors sometimes prescribe antidepressants and anticonvulsants for pain related to irritated nerves.
Steroids that you swallow are generally not recommended for acute low back pain. Your primary doctor may refer you to a back specialist, a pain specialist, or a nerve specialist if they feel they can't manage your low back pain.
Many people with back pain are given temporary relief through injections and procedures in and around the spine. However, these methods may only help to diagnose structural causes of pain and help in physical rehabilitation when other methods have failed.
Injections are expensive, and they also have potential side effects. In addition to consulting with a physician and physical therapist, you may want to consider seeking the assistance of a massage therapist, chiropractor, acupuncturist, life coach, or counselor.
Chiropractic and Osteopathic
Chiropractic and osteopathic are effective treatments for acute low back pain. They are not recommended for treating chronic low back pain, though. If you hurt your back, contact a chiropractor or osteopath for an immediate adjustment.
Chiropractors may use drug therapies, such as antibiotics or pain relievers, before treating patients who have acute back pain.
Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese healing practice that may offer relief for people with chronic lower back pain. Placing thin needles into your skin at specific points can trigger the release of endorphins, your body's natural pain killers, or it may change your brain chemistry so you have a higher pain tolerance.
You should use it with other treatments.
Intervertebral Disc Decompression Treatment (IDDT)
Intervertebral discs act as cushions between the vertebrae. Occasionally, the discs can become damaged and cause pain. This procedure uses heat to modify the nerve fibers of a spinal disc and destroy pain receptors in the area.
In this procedure, a wire called a heat probe is placed through a cut in the disc. An electrical current passes through the wire, which heats a small outer portion of the disc to a temperature of 90 C.
IDET is a minimally invasive procedure that requires no hospital stay and takes place as an outpatient, while you are awake and under local anesthesia. Early studies show that some people have continued pain relief for up to 6 months.
Surgery is a last resort when it comes to chronic back pain. If you have a herniated disk or a pinched nerve from the spinal cord, you may need surgery. You may also have a rhizotomy -- surgically cutting a nerve -- to stop the pain.
This can help you understand the different treatment options available for the pain you are experiencing, including surgeries for herniated discs and spinal stenosis, and for chronic pain that's resistant to treatments.
They are sympathectomy, implantable spinal drug delivery systems, and implantable spinal cord stimulation systems.
Radiofrequency Discal Nucleoplasty
Radiofrequency discal nucleoplasty is a new procedure that uses a radio frequency probe instead of heat wire to break up a small portion of the central disc material.
The result is that the fluid around the disc is partially decompressed, which may help relieve pain caused by bulging discs pressing on nearby spinal nerve roots.
Do remember these OTC drugs are all for temporary relief, and if the pain persists over an extended period of time, you should consider better long term relief.
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