For 90% of back pain sufferers, time is the ultimate healer. Most back pain episodes will resolve in six weeks or less, without major interventions like surgery or injections. There are steps you can take to alleviate spine pain in the meantime and reduce your chances of surgery or other invasive treatments.
A Good Night’s Sleep
The mattress you choose has a strong impact on your lower back health. In spite of the old wisdom about sleeping on a hard surface, a medium-firm mattress is the best choice. If your mattress is sagging or is more than six to eight years old, consider a replacement.
OTC Spine Pain Medication
Talk to your doctor about spine pain medication options. NSAIDS, like ibuprofen and naproxen, are excellent anti-inflammatory options to ease the throbbing. Don’t take NSAIDS for more than 10 days without talking to your doctor, as extended use can cause gastrointestinal problems. Used occasionally to relieve muscle and back pain, NSAIDS can help you avoid or postpone surgery. Talk to your doctor about other pain management techniques and medications as well.
Go Cold, then Hot
For the first two days, apply ice to the affected area in 20 minute increments. Be sure to use a towel or other barrier between the icepack and skin to prevent frostbite. The cold slows down circulation and helps reduce swelling from inflammation. After two days, switch to 20 minute sessions with a heating pad. This will reopen the capillaries and bring restorative oxygen and nutrients to the site, speeding the healing process.
Put Your Best Foot Forward
If you suffer from chronic spine pain, consider speaking with a podiatrist. Your feet may be affecting your gait and in turn your entire support system. Supportive shoes and orthotic inserts may prove to be the best pain relief you can find.
Build Your Core
A regular fitness and exercise routine will go a long way toward strengthening the muscles that support your back. Talk to your doctor about exercises that specifically target the “core” muscles; those primarily responsible for the support of your spine. By exercising regularly, you can reduce your chances of recurring back injury and the need for more invasive interventions down the road.