How to Relieve Back Pain Safely and Naturally
Lower back pain is one of the most common complaints heard by doctors. The pain can range from a minor ache, dull constant throbbing or shooting pain.
There are two types of back pain, acute and chronic.
Acute low back pain (short term) is the most common, lasting for a few days, weeks, or in rare cases, months. Acute back pain often goes away on its own with good self-care.
Chronic low back pain (long term) lasts 12 weeks or more after the injury or cause is treated. About 1 in 5 cases of acute low back pain progress into chronic low back pain with symptoms still present after one year.
What Causes Lower Back Pain?
There are many different causes for lower back pain. Accidents, injuries and the aging process can all be culprits.
According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Strokes, most acute low back pain is mechanical. This means there is an irregularity in the way the spine, discs, nerves, muscles and ligaments fit together.
Mechanical causes of lower back pain can include congenital factors such as scoliosis and spina bifida; injuries such as sprains, strains and trauma; herniated disc; degenerative problems such as disc degeneration, spondylosis and arthritis; and nerve and spinal cord problems such as sciatica, spinal stenosis and osteoporosis. Non-spinal sources can include kidney stones, endometriosis, fibromyalgia, tumors and pregnancy.
Your doctor will examine your body to determine the cause of your back pain. If your doctor suspects a specific condition is causing the pain, they may order tests including X-ray, MRI, CT scan, blood tests, bone scan and more to glean more information to get to the root cause.
What are the Risk Factors for Lower Back Pain?
Back pain can affect anyone, even children. Risk factors that increase your chances of lower back pain include aging, fitness level, weight gain, genetics, workplace factors, smoking and overloaded backpacks.
How to Relieve Back Pain
While acute back pain usually gets better on its own, here are some things you can do to ease your discomfort in the meanwhile.
- Improve sleep position. Try lying on your side with a pillow between your knees to help relieve strain on the back and position your upper body and spine properly while sleeping.
- Better posture. Poor posture and slouching are bad for your back. While you don’t need to practice walking around with a stack of books on your head, improving your posture will help your back feel better. Sitting for long stretches of time can make the problem worse. If you need to sit at a computer, try to sit upright against a supportive chair with your feet flat on the floor.
- Physical therapy. A physical therapist can help you learn how to position your body to keep your spine in proper alignment and reduce strain on your back. They can also give you exercises to do to strengthen the core muscles that support the back. Strong core muscles are one of the biggest keys to preventing back pain.
- Ice therapy and heat therapy. Icing a sore back can help reduce pain and inflammation. Ice for 15-20 minutes at a time. Make sure to wrap the ice pack in a towel or other thin fabric to protect your skin. Alternating ice with heat packs may help in some cases. Follow your health care provider’s recommendation.
- Get moving. Bed rest or lying down for long periods of time can make back pain worse and lead to other health problems. Gentle exercises like yoga, walking and swimming are options for physical activity that don’t put a lot of wear and tear on your body.
- Treat your feet right. Wear comfortable, low-heeled shoes
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Get massages. Many people with chronic back pain report improvements with regular massage therapy.
- See a chiropractor. A Doctor of Chiropractic uses spinal manipulation and spinal mobilization to bring relief to the spine and surrounding tissues.
- Nerve stimulation. Your doctor may suggest stimulating nerves through acupuncture or TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) to reduce chronic back pain at the nerve roots.
- Back surgery. – If other treatment methods for chronic back pain don’t work, your doctor may recommend surgery, depending on the cause of your back pain. Surgery carries risks and isn’t always successful, so consider this a last resort.
- Over-the-counter medication (OTC). – Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and acetaminophen (for example, Tylenol) are over the counter pain relievers that don’t need a prescription, but do have potential negative side effects. Talk to your doctor before taking any pain relievers.
- Topical pain relief. Pain relief gels, creams, sprays and patches with capsaicin or lidocaine work by stimulating the nerves in the skin to feel cold or warm and dull the sensation pain.
- CBD products.
- Prescription pain medications. Muscle relaxants and opioid medications have significant possible risks associated with their use, including risk of dependency and overdose, studies show. Talk to your doctor before taking any pain medication.
Natural Remedies To Relieve Back Pain
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- Wheeler, T. “Ways to Relieve Back Pain.” WebMD. Accessed February 24, 2022. https://www.webmd.com/pain-management/ss/slideshow-relieving-back-pain
- “Low Back Pain Fact Sheet.” NIH National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Accessed February 24, 2022. https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/Patient-Caregiver-Education/Fact-Sheets/Low-Back-Pain-Fact-Sheet
- “Back Pain.” Mayo Clinic. Accessed February 24, 2022. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/back-pain/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20369911
- “Lower Back Pain.” Cleveland Clinic. Accessed February 24, 2022. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/7936-lower-back-pain