‘My Back Is Killing Me’: 5 Ways to Relieve Your Back Pain Right Now
Updated: Nov 21, 2019
Imagine waking up with back pain on a beautiful sunny day, and you need to get a lot of important things done.
You were probably lifting weights the day before. Or, you were sleeping with your back caught in an awkward position. Worse yet, you do not understand how you got your back pains.
Back pain is common, and it often gets better within a few weeks. Pain in the lower back, in particular, is very common but not a sign of anything serious most often.
The logical first step to tackle your back pain is to find a local chiropractor or a massage therapist in your area. While waiting for your appointment though, you can try some workarounds to relieve your back pain and mobilize your back muscles.
Before we dive into that, it is important to know what happened to your back.
What Causes Back Pain?
Most back pains originate from strains on back structures. But, identifying the exact cause of back pain is not always possible.
We categorize back pain as ‘non-specific’ (no clear underlying cause) or ‘mechanical’ (caused by abnormal stress and strain in and around the spine).
Mechanical pain is often the result of poor posture, poor seat design, and improper bending and lifting motions.
The pain can either be acute or chronic. Acute back pain may last for 6 weeks, while chronic back pain may last over 3 months, though the latter is less common than the former.
Sprain / Strain
Strained muscles and sprained ligaments, muscle tension, muscle spasm, injuries and fractures, and slipped spinal disks are some common causes of back pain.
Lifting heavy objects, making sudden movements, or getting fractures or injuries from accidental falls are often the causes of strains.
Posture and Habits
Some regular daily activities and habits we do are another common cause of back pain, including:
Poor posture (at the desk, while driving, while walking, etc.)
Sitting or standing for longer periods
High and low-intensity exercises
Poor quality mattress that does not keep the spine straight
Structural problems of the spine can also lead to back pain, such as
Ankylosing spondylitis (swelling or abnormal enlargement of the joints in the spine)
Osteoarthritis (a joint disease that often affects middle-aged and elderly people)
Osteoporosis (bones becomes porous and brittle causing compression fractures)
Ruptured, bulging, or slipping spinal disk
Sciatica (a nerve inflammation that spans from the lower back to feet)
Scoliosis (the spine has sideways S or C-shaped curve)
Spondylolisthesis (a vertebra slips forward and out of place)
Though rare, back pain is also a sign of an underlying serious problem in your body, including:
Cauda equina syndrome (Pinched nerves in the spine, near the lower end)
Cancer of the spine
Pelvic inflammatory disease
Ways to Relieve Your Back Pain Right Now
Not all back-pain occurrences need a doctor’s visit. There are ways to manage the pain on your own as soon as it kicks in. Here’s what you can do to get rid of your back pain, pronto:
Keep moving: A long period of inactivity is often the culprit for most types of back pain, and it is, in fact, doing you more harm than good If you think bed rest is the best solution to get rid of your back pain, think again. Bed rest can slow down the healing process and make your muscles more exhausted, stiffer, and more painful What you can do is to move around and do your normal activities, just to keep your muscles as active as possible. Although, avoid activities that involve movements more than your back muscles can handle.
Perform light stretches and back exercises: Talking about staying active, you might as well perform light stretches and back exercises. These will help ease out backaches and keep your back strong if done in a routine. Activities like walking and swimming are also beneficial to your back. Also, you can find a host of easy yoga poses and Pilates exercises that may help your back pain.
Use heat or ice: Both heat and ice have their own ways of treating back pains. Heat loosens up rigid muscles, while ice eases off inflammation and reduces nerve activity for a little while which helps in relieving pain. You can try taking a hot bath or a cold shower to treat affected muscles. Also, placing a bottle of hot water or an ice pack on the impacted area for about 15 minutes can help lessen the pain. Be cautious when using an ice pack / hot pack right onto your skin, it is advised to wrap it in a cloth first before applying it on your body. Applying hot and cold packs in contrast to treat your back pain is also an option.
Take pain medication: It confuses many patients whether pain medication is okay for back pain. Sometimes. Over the counter (OTC) pain medicines may sometimes relieve your back pain temporarily. While they might not put an end to your pain sometimes, pain medicines help you manage the pain enough for you to move around for the short period of time until you seek professional help. Paracetamol (Tylenol) and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) tablets like aspirin (Bayer), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB), and naproxen (Aleve) are effective in dealing with different stages of pain and help with inflammation. Please consult with your family doctor and/or your pharmacist before taking any medication. Over the counter pain medication do not require a prescription but some people react to them differently and it is advised to read the label and check with your family doctor like mentioned above.
When to See a Chiropractor?
Often minor back pain not triggered by a serious medical condition may improve within a few weeks.
However, it is recommended to visit a chiropractor, massage therapist, or a physiotherapist if your back pain:
Does not improve within a few weeks
Prevents you from doing any activities
Gets worse as the days or weeks go by
If none of the aforementioned methods help or the pain just keeps on recurring even after trying the pain-relieving methods, you know it is time to seek professional help.
Find a chiropractor or a massage therapist near you to help you get rid of your back pain for good. They will evaluate, diagnose and treat you with manual therapy treatments as well as prescribe rehabilitative exercises as part of the treatment plan.
A Chiropractor can give you recommendations on what types of exercises you can do and how often should you visit them for treatment to speed up the healing process of your back pain.