One of the worst parts of suffering from back pain—other than the pain and discomfort—it is that the back plays such a crucial role in everyday movements. Your back is an integral part of basic movements from walking and running to bending and twisting, which means finding relief can be difficult if you don’t know what type of pain treatment to seek out.
You can’t see your back, and even if you could very few back problems present themselves on the surface of the skin. Back problems such as sciatica, slipped discs and acute back pain all affect the spine and muscles rather than the skin. In some instances you may feel a hot or tingling sensation on the skin or see a reddening of the skin where the pain is located.
To truly relieve back pain you must first determine the source of your back pain.
Diagnosing Back Pain
The key to finding the most effective back pain management is identifying the cause of the back pain. Were you recently in an automobile accident? Have you recently suffered trauma to the back such as a fall or collision with another person? These are questions that help you determine any recent activity that could be the source of your pain.
There are a variety of tests your doctor may perform to find the source of your back pain. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), x-rays, computerized tomography (CT) scans, bone scans, blood test, discography and electromyogram (EMG). These tests address the many different ways an injury can affect the spine or back muscles and some may take time before results are clear.
When your physician is confident they have found the source of your back pain they will prescribe pain meds or natural therapies to relieve back pain.
No over the counter medicine is more sought after by back pain sufferers than pain killers. Whether you suffer from a slipped disc, sciatica, lower back pain or a herniated disc, pain medications known as NSAIDs are the most sought after pills around. The reason for the desirability of these pain medications is found right in the name; non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
These pills relieve pain and reduce inflammation, which makes them perfect for back pain relief. Many different back problems present with both swelling and pain and the best pain meds for these ailments are those that attack both problems with as few drugs as possible. Most NSAIDs can be found over the counter at your local pharmacy, but many only tackle the pain. These pain meds are effective for pain relief, but if you do not tackle the swelling symptoms you will find it difficult to maintain normal mobility.
In some instances when over the counter pain medications are not providing pain relief, your physician may offer prescription pain medications. While these medications do provide fast and effective pain relief, they come with many side effects such as constipation, fatigue, depression, tremors, itching, nausea, hallucinations, muscle spasms and bone pain. In addition to the side effects many prescription pain meds are habit forming, which means taking them as part of a long term treatment plan is not an option.
Natural Therapies For Pain Relief
While pain medicine is an effective stopgap measure until you’re able to begin some form of physical therapy, it should not be your only method of pain relief. The pain is just a symptom of an underlying back problem and if those problems are not addressed then the pain will never really subside.
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Physical therapy is one of the most common natural therapies for pain relief. It doesn’t matter if you suffer from sciatic nerve pain or lumbar pain, working with a physical therapist can help strengthen, soothe and relax back muscles. Often the tension or tightness in the back causes the pain and exercises and stretches that help will be provided by the physical therapist.
Muscle balance therapy is gaining traction as an effective method of treating back pain because we are learning more everyday about the effect muscle imbalances can have on our posture and spinal structure. Muscle balance therapy, or MBT, provides you with exercises that will work to balance out the muscles so one side of the body isn’t working twice as hard to perform the same tasks and thereby placing undue burden on the muscles and bones in the back.
Do not attempt MBT on your own until you have been given proper guidelines by a physical therapist.
Exercise is an essential part of overall well-being. Even if you think your pain is too great to exercise, you should be exercising. Exercise as well as stretching works your back and neck muscles everyday so they are strong and less susceptible to future back pain and injury. Exercise also releases a hormone that dulls your pain receptors so you feel less pain.
Sleep and rest are an important part of the healing process whether you’re battling the flu or back pain. Even though you may be in such pain that sleep is virtually impossible, it will help speed up the healing process. Use natural sleep therapies such as green or chamomile tea, any kind of herbal tea, warm milk or other all-natural sleep aids to help you rest easily each night. Avoid prescription sleep aids as they are habit forming and come with a plethora of unwanted side effects.
The best cure for back pain is knowledge. You should be aware of when pain comes and goes, what makes the pain worse and any activities that preceded the pain so you and your physician can diagnose your pain and find an effective treatment program.
Written By: Updated: June 29,2011