Back pain is a very common ailment that affects many adults throughout the country. It has a number of causes, and a multitude of potential treatments. However, the usual treatment options do not appeal to everybody, and it is important to find a method that suits you.
Normally, back pain improves within a few weeks by itself, so you won’t need to find any form of treatment. Sometimes, though, it can become a chronic condition or it can keep returning. Whether it is a short spell of back pain or one that persists, the pain can be debilitating and difficult to deal with.
In this article, we will be exploring five simple but effective ways to alleviate back pain. First, though, it is important to understand a little more about back pain and what causes it.
What is Back Pain?
Just as it sounds, back pain refers to a persistent pain that occurs in the region of your back. It can be mild or severe, and there are plenty of different pains that you can experience.
Most back pain is referred to as “non-specific”, meaning that it has no obvious cause. In this case, it is unlikely to be serious. It is also possible for back pain to be “mechanical”, which means it stems from the joints, bones, or soft tissue in the spine. If this is the case, the back pain:
- May get better or worse depending on your position.
- Usually feels worse during movement.
- Might have resulted from poor posture or lifting something awkwardly; however, it often occurs without obvious reason.
- Might have resulted due to a minor injury.
- Can be associated with low mood and feeling run down.
Back pain is also associated with a number of more serious medical conditions, including sciatica or a slipped disc in the spine.
As back pain often has a non-serious cause, there is usually no need to worry about it. You should visit a doctor if the pain prevents you from performing day to day tasks, if the pain is unbearable, or if it doesn’t start to get better within a few weeks.
In the meantime, there are things you can do to make coping with back pain easier.
When you are experiencing back pain, it might seem counter-intuitive to keep moving. However, staying still is one of the worst things you can do. You are more likely to recover quickly if you remain active, as keeping yourself bed-ridden will cause the muscles to stiffen and will make things worse. Try to keep going about your daily routine despite the pain, and it should start to ease within a few weeks.
There are specific exercises and stretches you can do to help yourself recover. By “exercise” we are not saying you should to go the gym and pump iron – lifting weights may damage the back more. Instead, stick to specific exercises that won’t put too much strain on the muscles. Walking, swimming, and yoga are all good options for remaining active. Furthermore, you can check out this article from Arthritis Research UK on specific exercises to manage back pain.
2. Over-the-Counter Painkillers
Unless the back pain is very severe, you won’t want to be getting a hold of prescription drugs. Many pains can be treated using over-the-counter (OTC) painkillers; you can buy these from pharmacies or supermarkets without a prescription.
For back pain, the most common OTCs are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen. Paracetamol is not one of these drugs, and it is not recommended that you use Paracetamol by itself to treat back pain.
Be aware, however, that NSAIDs are not suited to everyone. Individuals over 65 years of age, pregnant women, and those with certain medical conditions may not be able to take NSAIDs. Furthermore, they do have some side effects to be aware of, such as:
- Stomach ulcers and internal bleeding
Most people are fine with NSAIDs, but there are also those who are allergic to them. If you normally take medications like ibuprofen and experience no problems, then you can definitely take them to help manage your back pain. However, if the back pain persists for a long time, it is not a good idea to continually take painkillers – this is what leads to stomach ulcers and, in rare cases, heart failure or strokes.
As a result, painkillers are recommended for milder, short-term back pain. If the problem persists, visit a doctor and try another method of treatment.
3. Hot or Cold Packs
Some people with back pain find that a change in temperature can help to ease back pain.
If heat is something that helps you, then you can try a hot bath, a hot water bottle, or a cream like Deep Heat.
Cold may also help, in which case you can use an ice pack or a pack of frozen vegetables. However, do not hold these directly to your skin, as it could result in cold burn. Wrap the ice pack in a cloth first before pressing it to the affected area.
You can also alternate between hot and cold using ice packs and a hot water bottle. Of course, this is only a short-term solution that will help when the pain is first coming on.
4. Practice a Healthy Lifestyle
There are several lifestyle factors which can contribute to pack pain. For example, smoking can increase risk of osteoporosis of the spin, among other bone problems. In turn, osteoporosis can lead to compression fractures of the spine. It has been suggested that smokers are more likely to experience lower back pain than non-smokers. If you smoke, kicking the habit could be a way to improve back pain.
Secondly, there is a connection between weight and back pain. Being overweight puts unnecessary stress on your spine and can lead to back pain. By watching your weight, exercising, and eating a healthy diet, you could help to mitigate back pain before it starts.
5. Try CBD
A final simple method for treating back pain is to try out CBD. The popular food supplement is becoming a healthy lifestyle essential, and for good reason.
Cannabidiol, as it is properly known, has a unique ability to help the body create more endocannabinoids. These are messenger molecules which help to transmit information around the body, allowing us to adapt to a number of different environmental and internal changes. In this way, CBD indirectly affects something called the endocannabinoid system, which is designed to maintain balance within the body.
So, how does this affect back pain? The ECS is thought to be linked to inflammation, in that signalling from the CB2 receptor helps to reduce inflammation when it is no longer needed. If CBD can truly support the endocannabinoid system, it may help to reduce inflammation. Some preliminary research has suggested that CBD could act as an anti-inflammatory.
If you want to try out CBD for back pain, it is recommended to choose a topical form of CBD. This means purchasing a cream infused with CBD that you can rub directly onto the affected area. Note, however, that using CBD will not work for everyone and you may require a very different dose depending on the severity of your pain.
CBD might not work for everyone wanting to manage back pain, but it could be a viable option to try out if you are searching for a natural way to help you cope.