Skip to main content

10 Home Remedies to Manage Low Back Pain

Perhaps you “slept wrong” or lifted something heavy and awkward using poor form. Maybe you're experiencing pain from a degenerative condition like arthritis. Whatever the cause, once you have low back pain, I for one know that it can be hard to endure. They say about 25% of all Americans have some type of chronic low back pain. And for those lucky ones that don’t, they can expect to experience back pain at some point in their lives.

Sometimes it’s clearly serious: You were injured, or you feel numbness, weakness, or tingling in the legs. Call the doctor, of course. But for routine and mild low back pain, here are a few simple tips to try at home.

Chill it. Ice is best in the first 24 to 48 hours after an injury because it reduces inflammation, and excessive inflammation will always cause pain. I know the first tendency to go for the heating pad or hot tub because the warmth “feels good” by covering up the pain. While it does help relax the muscles, the heat can actually encourage more inflammation. The best bet for heat is to wait 48 hours. After that, you can switch from cold therapy to heat if you prefer. Whether you use heat or ice – remember to remove it after about 20 minutes to give your skin a rest. You can repeat as necessary. If pain persists, talk with a doctor.

Keep moving. Although you must “respect" your pain, the spine is meant to move. Pain permitting, you should keep doing your daily activities. Make the bed, go to work, walk the dog. Once you're feeling better, you can return to more advanced exercises like swimming, bicycling, and walking. Doing so can keep you -- and your back -- more nimble and mobile. Just don't overdo it with the macho “walk it off” thing. There's no need to run a marathon when your back is sore, but there’s not need to “baby” it either.

Stay strong. Once your low back pain has receded, you can help avert future episodes of back pain by working the muscles that support your lower back, including the back extensor muscles. These muscles help you maintain the proper posture and alignment of your spine. Don’t forget that having strong hip, pelvic, and abdominal muscles can also give you more back support. However, you may want to avoid abdominal “sit-ups,” because they can actually put more strain on your back. Try a “plank” exercise instead.

Stretch. Don't sit slumped in your desk chair all day. Plan to get up every 20 minutes or so and stretch the opposite way. Since our jobs tend to place us in a position that requires a lot of time bending forward, it's important to stand up and stretch backward periodically throughout the day. While you’re up, you may even want to stretch your legs. You can augment your spinal health by adding a regular stretching routine to your workout or including yoga classes.

Think ergonomically. Consider re-designing your workspace so you don't have to hunch forward to see your computer monitor or reach way out for your mouse. Use a desk chair that supports your lower back and allows you to keep your feet planted firmly on the floor.

Watch your posture. Slumping makes it harder for your back to support your weight. Be especially careful of your posture when lifting heavy objects. Never bend over from the waist. Instead, bend and straighten from the knees.

Wear comfortable shoes. And, if you wear heels, Exchange your four-inch pumps for flats or low heels (less than 1 inch). High heels and ill fitting shoes create a more unstable posture, and increase pressure on your lower spine. According to research, nearly 60% of women who consistently wear high-heeled shoes also complain of low back pain.

Kick the habit. Smoking can increase your risk for osteoporosis of the spine and other bone problems. Osteoporosis can lead to compression fractures of the spine. One study found that smokers are about a third more likely to have low back pain compared with nonsmokers.

Watch your weight. Use diet and exercise to keep your weight within a healthy range for your height. Being overweight puts excess stress on your spine.

Try an over-the-counter pain reliever. Anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, Nuprin), and naproxen sodium (Aleve, Anaprox, Naprosyn) can help reduce back pain. Acetaminophen  (Actamin, Panadol, Tylenol) is another over-the-counter option for pain management. Be sure to check with your doctor or pharmacist about any interactions over-the-counter pain relievers may have with other medications you are taking. People with a history of certain medical conditions (such as ulcers, kidney disease, and liver disease) should avoid some medicines.

Remember to Call your doctor if:
Your low back pain doesn't go away after a few days, and it hurts even when you're at rest or lying down. You have weakness or numbness in your legs, or you have trouble standing or walking, or you lose control over your bowels or bladder. These could be signs that you have a nerve problem or another underlying medical condition that needs to be treated.

As always – enjoy your life.

John Aaron Villarreal


Bio: I am a Houston based, male massage therapist and wellness coach specializing in pain management and health programs for individuals over the age of forty. I laugh - a lot. I'm quirky but sincere. And, while I'm not a counselor, I do listen and I do care: Except for the times that I don't. That’s a joke - Did I mention that I like to laugh? Anyway, visit my website, call or email me and let's get together to talk about you, and the many ways to live life better!

The Legal Stuff: I write to inform, inspire and encourage my readers to enjoy all that life has to offer.
The content and information on this site is not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent disease.
Please consult your physician prior to starting any exercise, diet or wellness program. 

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Benefits of Regular Massage Sessions

Once people discover the many joys and benefits of massage, a common question arises—“How often should I schedule my massage sessions?”

Of course, there is no set answer, but studies indicate that massage at regular intervals is most beneficial to your overall health.

In a Newsweek article entitled “The Magic of Touch,” the advantages of frequent massage are considered. The following excerpts help to answer the question, “How often?”

“A weekly massage may seem an indulgence, but new research suggests it can have major health benefits...

“Since instituting a program of massage, job-specific exercises and ergonomics in 1990, the Virginia-based company [Wampler Foods] has cut repetitive-stress injuries by 75 percent...

“From assembly lines to corporate headquarters, Americans are discovering the magic of massage. At Boeing and Reebok, headaches, back strain and fatigue have all fallen since the companies started bringing in massage therapists...

Doctors have started prescribing massage …

Should You Take Supplements?

Often I am asked about supplements and their role in a healthy diet. My take is that while vitamins and minerals are essential to life, the human body cannot self sustain this requirement. Therefore, it is imperative that we eat a well-rounded, low fat diet in order to obtain an adequate variety and supply.

Unfortunately, Americans have become infatuated with supplementation. Mega-dosing has become a common practice for both athletes trying to improve their performances and the “average Jane or Joe” trying to compensate for inadequate nutrition.

Research indicates supplementation is ineffective in improving athletic performance in a well-nourished adult. That’s to say if you are eating well, taking additional doses of supplements won’t give you an edge.

In fact, excessive amounts of fat soluble vitamins (vitamins A, D, E and K) may prove toxic since they are stored in the body and not easily excreted. Even some water soluble supplements such as vitamin B-12 have been shown to cause toxi…

What To Do When You’re Chronically Stressed

Of all the modern-day ailments that seem to affect us, none is more pervasive than stress. Everywhere you turn, there are factors lurking to redirect you from your peaceful pursuit of happiness and lock you in the clutches of “stress.”

What exactly is stress—and what more insidious effects does it cause? The dictionary defines stress as “great pressure or force; strain.” In today’s world, we think of stress as the result of too much pressure laid upon us by life, causing mental worry or anguish. This, in turn, manifests itself in tight neck and shoulders, headaches, nervous stomach, etc. But these physical and mental conditions are really only the beginning.

Studies show that stressful situations can develop into more threatening health conditions. For instance:

A sudden or unexpected stressor can activate your adrenal glands, which sends adrenaline and other hormones into your bloodstream. This brings about an increase in your breathing, heart rate, blood pressure, and blood flow to…