As individuals reach middle age, they are more likely to suffer from episodes of low back discomfort. Indeed, according to the Harvard Special Health Report Men’s Health: Fifty and Forward, around four in five Americans will have back discomfort at some point in their life, and men and women will experience it equally.
Age is frequently to blame. Joints and bones in your lower back tend to deteriorate over time. Your discs (the structures that act as cushions between the bones in your spine) will eventually wear out and fragment. These structural changes might occasionally result in pain.
Another less common cause of low back discomfort is a herniated disc. Occasionally; a disc protrudes beyond the gap between the bones and compresses a neuron at its branching point from the spinal cord. Sciatica is a term that refers to discomfort that originates in the sciatic nerve that runs through the buttocks and leg.
However, the majority of occurrences of low back pain are caused by strain or sprain as a result of simple overuse, unfamiliar activity, excessive lifting, or an accident. Generally, the best course of action is to wait and see whether the discomfort subsides on its own. If the discomfort persists after three to four days, it is time to consult a physician.
Depending on the cause and degree of your back pain, you may wish to give a few home remedies a try to assist alleviate the discomfort until your back returns to normal. Consider the following options:
Both cold and heat therapy are effective. It is preferable to apply cold compresses or an ice pack immediately following a back injury rather than heat, as this helps alleviate pain by numbing the area and preventing or reducing swelling. However, putting heating pads or a hot-water bottle to your back 48 hours after the onset of back discomfort may be beneficial. The heat helps to soothe and relax painful muscles and stimulates blood flow, which aids in the healing process. Bear in mind that heat therapy is beneficial only during the initial week.
Restriction on bed rest. Bed rest, once the basis of back pain treatment, has gone out of favor. Doctors now understand that it is preferable to maintain movement in order to avoid muscle stiffness. Bed rest can still be beneficial for relieving low back pain, particularly if your pain is severe enough that sitting or standing causes agony. However, try to keep it to a few hours every day and no longer than one or two days.
Physical exertion. Exercise contributes to the development of strong, flexible muscles that are less prone to injury. Additionally, it can aid in the healing process of an ailing back, prevent something similar happening in the future, and improve function. Develop an exercise plan with your doctor or get a referral to another health expert who can. A well-designed exercise program will often incorporate all three major types of exercise: aerobic activity, strength training, and flexibility exercises.
Alternative remedies. Numerous forms of complementary therapy may be beneficial in relieving low back pain. These include the following:
- Acupuncture, in which therapists insert sterilized hair-thin needles into specific places on the body to unblock energy
- Spinal manipulation, in which chiropractors apply direct pressure to the body in order to realign the spine
- Massage therapy to soothe sore muscles
- Yoga and tai chi are both movement therapies that can help stretch and strengthen back muscles.
Although the evidence for these therapies is mixed, when they do work, it is frequently in conjunction with other home remedies for lower back pain.
For more information regarding lower back pain as well as other types of pain, visit Pain Help for resources.