If you are looking for back pain relief, it is important to try and determine the cause of your pain. If you know which activities cause your flare-ups, stopping those activities will be the first step towards recovery. Other back pain remedies, such as pain relief medication or muscle rubs, have been proven to help as well.
According to the American Chiropractic Association (ACA), back pain is the single leading cause of disability on a global scale. It is also one of the most common reasons that people miss work in the U.S., and approximately 80 percent of Americans are expected to experience back pain at some point in their lives.
Some of the most common culprits of back pain include repetitive motion and sitting for hours at a time in one position. You may need to consult a back pain doctor if you suffer from severe or acute pain. Otherwise, practicing the following exercises, regimens and treatments may help you significantly reduce your pain and prevent further injury.
Tips for Upper Back Pain Relief
You may need a form of upper back pain relief if you experience mild to moderate pain in your upper back, neck or shoulders. Common reasons for pain in this area include lifting weight with poor form, sitting or standing with slouched shoulders, having a sports injury, being overweight and smoking.
Learning how to fix your posture may help relieve your symptoms over time and prevent more issues. Ultimately, improving your posture comes down to actively thinking about it. Think about holding your shoulders down and further back, and drawing in your stomach to support your torso.
You may even consider placing stickers or notes around your work space, in your car and in your home to help remind you of your posture. Back pain relief exercises may help alleviate your pain if you practice them gently and with proper form. The following examples may be helpful:
- Arm slides on a wall. Sit or stand with your back, elbows and wrists touching the wall. Without taking your hands or wrists off the wall, slowly slide your arms upwards until you feel the stretch. Then, lower your arms and repeat. For more intensity, slide your arms as far up as you can.
- Neck rolls and shoulder rolls. With both types of rolls, begin slowly and work yourself up to larger circular movements.
- Pectoralis stretch. This stretch may help improve your posture and shoulder mobility. Stand facing a wall and place your palms on the wall far above you and far apart. Gently lean into the wall until you feel the stretch.
- Thoracic extension. Sit in a chair and place both hands on the back of your head. Your elbows should be above your ears. Then, arch backward and look up at the ceiling. Repeat this stretch several times.
- Shoulder blade squeeze. This move for upper back and neck pain relief may be performed standing or sitting. Lower your arms by your sides, squeeze your shoulder blades together and hold for five seconds. Repeat as necessary.
- Thoracic stretch. Sit on the floor with your legs stretched out straight in front of you. Place your hands on your mid-thighs. Then, slowly bend over from the hips and tilt your head and neck down toward your stomach. Hold this stretch for about 10 to 15 seconds and repeat as necessary.
Tips for Lower Back Pain Relief
The lower back pain treatment you need will depend on the cause of your pain. If you do not have a severe injury, you may perform certain treatments yourself and practice certain stretches.
Some of the most common causes of lower back pain include lifting too much weight with bad posture, sitting or lying down for too long, sleeping in an uncomfortable position or wearing an ill-fitting backpack. Lower back pain relief may come in the form of stretches for your lower back and the muscles surrounding that area. These stretches may include:
- Touching your toes. Stand with your feet at hip-distance apart. Starting with your head, slowly roll down and let your arms dangle until you feel a deep stretch in your hamstrings. Be sure to bend your knees slightly and keep them parallel so they do not track in towards each other. Slowly roll up when you are finished, bending your knees even more as you go.
- Cobra pose. This is a yoga stretch for back pain treatment. Lie face down with your palms on the ground by your shoulders. Slowly push your upper body up until you feel a stretch in your abdomen and keep your elbows slightly bent. Make sure your chest is upright. Then, slowly lower yourself back down.
- Child’s pose. This is another lower back stretch that helps lengthen your torso. Sit on the floor with your shins on the ground and the heels of your feet facing upwards. Lower your torso toward the ground and stretch out your arms in front of your head, as far as they can go. Use your palms to grip the floor and maintain the stretch. You may perform this stretch with your knees parallel or facing outwards.
Learn About Painkillers for Back Pain Relief
You may consider using strong painkillers for chronic pain management if your symptoms are severe. Many doctors recommend anti-inflammatory, over-the-counter (OTC) drugs such as ibuprofen or naproxen products. You may also take acetaminophen or aspirin, though aspirin may be a little harder on the stomach.
Be sure to speak with your doctor if you are taking a new painkiller for the first time. If you have severe lower back pain, your doctor may prescribe a stronger painkiller.
About Home Remedies for Back Pain Relief
Besides stretching and taking medication, there are other home remedies for back pain relief that may help. They include:
- Applying hot and cold compresses. Ice packs for injuries are more common than heating pads, though you must know when to use either item. If you have recently injured your back or experience sudden and intense pain, an ice pack will be more beneficial. The ice may help alleviate inflammation in the area. If the muscles in your lower back are stiff or achy, a heating pad may be more helpful. The heating pad may relax your muscles and reduce the tension in the area.
- Pain relief cream. This type of cream may be used like a heating pad, though both should not be used at the same time. Some pain relief creams work by bringing heat to the area and relaxing the muscles. Others that contain menthol have a cooling effect on the skin and may desensitize the pain receptors in the area of application.
- Sleeping on the right pillow. If you are wondering how to relieve lower back pain while sleeping, you may consider replacing your pillow. Pillows that are too thick or too thin can cause you to sleep in uncomfortable positions and increase the stress and strain on your body. You may also consider sleeping with a pillow between your legs to alleviate some pressure on your back.