Almost everyone suffers from back pain at one point or another, and treatment depends on a person’s health status: an athlete might need to refrain from sports for a few days to heal from a back injury, or someone lifting heavy furniture might simply need to apply heat and ice to the affected area. Usually, these episodes are brief, only lasting anywhere from a couple of days to a couple of weeks. Many of these flare-ups require simple back pain treatments like allowing the area to rest for a while; however, other instances of back pain might need medication, therapy, or even surgery to correct. The key to establishing proper corrective measures is to determine the root cause of the back pain; a few factors that commonly cause back pain are obesity, aging, and overexertion while exercising.
There are many simple back pain treatments that patients can try, and some of them start with small changes in lifestyle. For example, weight and inactivity are two common culprits of back pain. Even if the patient does not suffer from other weight-related health problems, a BMI (body mass index) over 25 can indicate the need for weight loss. Many doctors are satisfied with a 10 percent loss of weight, so a patient who weighs 250 pounds can lose 25 pounds to help reduce strain on the back. To lose weight, doctors will usually recommend a plan that gradually cuts calories out of the diet and progressively incorporates exercise. Even patients who are mostly sedentary can benefit from walking or doctor-recommended back stretching exercises. Patients of normal weight can try exercises that strengthen the spine and core.
Another at-home remedy is changing mattresses and pillows. Sleeping in the wrong position can place strain on the back, so it is important to invest in the most comfortable bedding. Few clinical studies have been done regarding back pain and mattresses, but among the ones that have been conducted, doctors have concluded that generally, medium-firm mattresses are the best for back pain. Caring for mattresses is another important factor in ensuring a comfortable night’s sleep. The mattress should be flipped and rotated every few months for even weight distribution, and they should be replaced at least once every eight years. Pillows should also be replaced regularly as they lose their firmness over time. For patients who also suffer from neck pain, there are many orthopedic pillows on the market that can help keep the neck in a more comfortable position while lying down.
For temporary pain, such as a sports injury or an injury from heavy lifting, anti-inflammatory over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen or naproxen sodium can help. Persistent back pain, however, will require a longer-lasting solution as most people do not prefer the health or financial consequences of using medications for too long.
Less invasive remedies are tested out first, and usually, they will take a few weeks for results to fully take effect. Weight loss, exercise, sleep solutions, and medications are just a few simple back pain treatments that a patient can try before looking into more advanced treatment options. If the above options do not help, physical therapy or even surgery might be considered if the back pain is hindering a patient’s daily activities.
Written By: Updated: June 30,2011