Back pain is one of the most common complaints among Americans. In fact, it’s estimated that up to 80% of the population will experience back pain at some point in their lives. You’d think with such a widespread condition, doctors would be better at treating back pain, but sadly that’s not the case. Often people are left to fend for themselves with very few answers.
Today I’m going to discuss three of the more popular at-home treatment methods for back pain and their role in treatment. I’ll also go over a few of my recommendations for treatment.
Advil. If you’re in pain and just need to get through the day, I totally understand turning to over-the-counter pain medication for relief. Advil and other NSAIDs are relatively safe methods of pain management compared to some of the stronger prescription drugs on the market today, though there are still precautions that need to be taken.
Even though these pain medications are available over-the-counter, they still might have poor interactions with other medications you’re taking or negatively impact existing medical conditions. It’s best to check with your doctor before taking Advil or any other non-prescription medication.
The problem with pain medication is that while it temporarily manages discomfort, it in no way gets to the root of the problem. I’ve seen many patients over the years who have leaned on NSAIDs to manage their pain and put off treatment. This only hurts you more in the long-run and makes the process of healing more difficult.
Heating Pads. Placing a heating pad on the area of your back that’s experiencing pain or soreness is a great way to get some relief without medication. Heat therapy helps to loosen stiff or locked up muscles that could be causing your issue.
While resting on a heating pad feels great, I don’t recommend leaving it on for more than 20 or 30 minutes at a time. If you don’t like heating pads, a warm bath can give you the same benefits. Add a few drops of lavender essential oils to relax even more!
Another great natural pain reliever is cold therapy. Cold packs placed on the irritated area help calm tissue inflammation, which can be a big source of discomfort. I recommend switching between heat and ice when pain is more severe.
Foam Rollers. Rolling out has become more popular in recent years. Foam rollers are simply cylinders made from dense foam material that you can use to ease muscle soreness. Rolling out large muscle groups can be effective for reducing pain, especially after a hard workout.
But, I don’t ever recommend using a foam roller directly on your lower back. Instead, you can work into the muscles surrounding your pain area, such as your upper back, glutes, and hip flexors. Combining rolling out with at-home stretching can be very effective to ward off pain and keep your back healthy, but only if it’s in alignment to begin with.
The Takeaway. While all of these at-home treatments are effective in providing some relief for back pain, none of them will fix it. If you’re experiencing back pain, you need to see a chiropractor to get down to the bottom of your issues. And I promise, the longer you wait, the worse it will get.
Don’t put off true relief any longer. Call Oakland Spine and Physical Therapy today to start living free from pain!