6 things you can do to ease back pain
Any of these conditions can cause inflammation or pressure on nerves or pain. When this happens, Cleveland Clinic back pain specialists recommend:
- Be more physically active. “Motion is lotion” for the spine, notes spine specialist E. Kano Mayer, MD. The more active you are, the better you’ll feel. Stay active, and you’ll bounce back sooner from episodes of back pain.
- Do physical therapy. Physicians can prescribe a back-healthy exercise program to help you gain strength, and improve balance and flexibility. Strengthening your back and abdominal muscles — your core — will make your spine more resilient.
- Take medications. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) — ibuprofen, naproxen, aspirin — or acetaminophen can halt inflammatory pain. “Pulsed dosing — consistently taking the medicine two to three times per day for five to 10 days, even after pain subsides — is more reasonable than ‘as-needed’ dosing,” says Dr. Mayer. (Opioid pain relievers are not recommended for chronic back pain.)
- Apply cold. Reach for an ice pack first when back pain strikes. Applying ice (20 minutes on, 20 minutes off) helps quiet painful inflammation or muscle spasms. (A frozen bag of peas will also do the trick.)
- Apply heat. After two or three days, consider using a heating pad, taking warm baths or lying briefly under a heat lamp. This can relax your back muscles and stimulate blood flow, explains Dr. Mayer. Don’t overuse heat (by falling asleep on a heating pad, for instance) to avoid getting burned. Stretch warmed muscles to prevent muscle spasm after the heat source is removed.
- Rest up. Aging tends to slow our recovery from injuries. But if your back “goes out,” gentle stretching is superior to bed rest. “Any bed rest beyond 48 hours can increase the duration and intensity of back pain, and slow the pace of your recovery,” he notes.
2 complementary therapies
If age-related back pain does not improve with conventional treatment, complementary medicine techniques may be added to the mix, including:
- Acupuncture. Acupuncturists insert fine needles into the skin at specific body points and manipulate them. This can relieve chronic pain by stimulating the body’s healing process.
- Osteopathic manipulation. Osteopathic doctors (DOs) or chiropractors use their hands to mobilize, adjust, massage and stimulate the spine and its surrounding tissues.
More advanced options from back pain specialists
If pain becomes chronic and persistent, don’t wait too long to see a back pain specialist. “Back pain does not have to destroy your quality of life,” notes pain management specialist Ellen Rosenquist, MD.
“Combining a wide array of procedures — including the conservative therapies above — in a comprehensive pain management plan can reduce pain and improve functionality.”
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|Read on: 13 Ways to Fix Your Age-Related Back Pain – Health Essentials from Cleveland Clinic|