Whether it was brought on by arthritis, nerve damage, bending the wrong way, or lifting something a little too heavy, lower back pain can be frustrating to deal with.
But if you’re struggling, know that most people experience back pain at some point in their lives, and it’s one of the most common reasons people book doctor’s appointments and call out of work. In fact, it’s one of the leading causes of disability worldwide, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
Treatments for lower back pain relief range from simple to complex, and the right course for you depends on how long you’ve been hurting, the severity of your pain, the location of your pain, and whether your pain is structural or muscular.
If your back pain just started, consider slacking off, just this once. “In most cases, back pain resolves in one to two weeks,” says Justin J. Park, MD, a board-certified orthopedic spine surgeon with The Maryland Spine Center at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore. However, other factors, like your age and activity level, could cause back pain to last for up to six weeks, he says. People who don’t pursue extreme treatment tend to have fewer complications than those who end up rushing into invasive treatments before it’s truly necessary.
But of course, the thought of wasting over a month for your pain to subside may feel unbearable. Here, the best lower back pain remedies to find relief fast.
- Reach for anti-inflammatory drugs.
Even as you practice patience, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), such as ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) or naproxen (Aleve) can help reduce back pain you’re pushing through. The research behind medicine guidelines for lower back pain finds that these may give slightly better relief than acetaminophen (Tylenol).
“Most of the time when you have back pain, it’s a muscle or ligament strain and inflammation you have is helped by an anti-inflammatory,” Dr. Park says. Over long periods, NSAIDs can cause gastrointestinal problems, so Dr. Park recommends that you don’t take them for more than 10 days without consulting your doctor.
- Find relief through ice and heat.
Break out that bag of frozen peas (or a cold pack, if you want to get fancy) for the first 48 hours after the pain sets in, and put it to use for 20 minutes a session, several sessions per day. After those two days are behind you, switch to 20-minute intervals with a heating pad.
Localized cooling shuts down capillaries and reduces blood flow to the area, which helps ease the swelling, says Lisa DeStefano, DO, an associate professor at Michigan State University’s College of Osteopathic Medicine in East Lansing. Cold also thwarts your nerves’ ability to conduct pain signals. Heat, on the other hand, loosens tight muscles and increases circulation, bringing extra oxygen to the rescue.
- Wear supportive shoes.
Some back trouble starts from the ground up. Wearing heels can be tough on your back, and that’s especially true if you tend to wear heels for hours at a time, Dr. Park says. “It causes you to arch your back more,” he explains.
Care with homemade or natural products are effective but you must bear in mind that you will not have immediate results. Any questions, remember that it is better to consult with your trusted doctor.
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