5 Home Remedies for Lower Back Pain
Do you suffer from lower back pain? Regardless of how often and how much it hurts, you’re in the company of millions of others affected by an aching lower back.
The lower back is called the lumbar region or lumbar spine. At some time or another, four out of five adults report they have had lumbar pain. At any given time, about 25% report that they’ve had pain within the previous three months. That’s a LOT of pain in the population!
Causes of Lumbar Pain
Lower back pain most often results from
- Tissue injury (e.g. pulled muscle or ligament)
- Mechanical issues (e.g. poor posture or incorrect movement)
- Deteriorating condition (e.g. arthritis of spine’s facet joints)
- Abnormal spinal curvature (e.g. scoliosis)
If the problem is deterioration or unusual spinal anatomy, deeper tissue injuries can arise such as herniated discs or nerve compression. These complications require professional attention. Never ignore serious symptoms such as severe pain, sudden weakness, shooting nerve pain, numbness or tingling. Do not delay seeking help for unusual symptoms.
Treating Back Pain at Home
Aside from such severe injuries or arthritis, most lumbar pain is short term and may respond well to home care, especially if it’s a recent occurrence and you suspect you know how you may have caused it. If the level of pain is mild, here are five things you can try at home—but if pain lingers or gets worse, discontinue your efforts and consult your doctor:
- Use heat or cold applications, depending on what makes you feel better. It’s not a quick fix, but easing off pain helps relax, which in turn facilitates healing. Heat (hot pack or heating pad – never on bare skin!) can soothe and relax tense muscles, and increase blood flow bringing the body’s healing factors into the area. Cold (a bag of frozen peas or ice pack—never on bare skin!) reduces inflammation, and can help reduce or deaden the sensation of pain.
- Strengthen your core muscles. You may think, what does that have to do with my back? It’s an interactive architectural system. Your core is made of up several muscle groups in the abdomen, sides and back. All together, they support your posture and spine. If you don’t regularly do core exercises, we recommend having at least one training session with a coach or physical therapist so you learn simple ways to begin that won’t complicate your back pain. Begin gently, and gradually work up to longer time or more reps, depending on the exercise.
- Massage can do wonders, both physically and psychologically. Ask your partner or close friend for 10-15 minutes of massage. Start gently, but provide feedback regarding location and pressure.
- Stretching is important. In fact, it’s a wonderful way to start your day before you even get out of bed! Lying on your back, slowly stretch your arms over your head to “wake up” your upper back. Hold for several seconds. Bring your hands back to start position. Then, one leg at a time, bend your knee and bring your bent knee toward your chest (provided this does not cause back discomfort). If possible, gently hug your knee toward your chest and hold for a few seconds. Slowly put your foot back on the mattress and straighten your leg by sliding your foot forward. Repeat with the other leg. Remember: stretching should feel sweet, NEVER painful. Do not do either of these if there is any twinge or pain. Finally, to get out of bed, roll onto your side facing the edge of the mattress. Use your arms to bring yourself to an upright position from which you can move your legs over the edge of the bed. Stand up slowly and take a deep breath. Aaah!
- Speaking of waking up in the morning, if back discomfort is making night sleep difficult, it sets up a vicious circle. Loss of sleep leads to daytime irritability and tension; tension leads to muscle tightness in the shoulders and back; muscle tightness increases pain and throws off posture; pain gets worse, causing more sleep disruption. The solution: use good night-time practices to encourage sleep. Stop watching TV or sitting in front of a computer/tablet at least an hour before bed, since the quality of such screen light wakes the brain up. Try soaking in a hot bath before settling into bed, or use cold or heat to calm pain down.
Treating Chronic Arthritis Pain in the Spine
Facet joint arthritis is a degenerative condition. In its early stages, occasional mild back pain may respond to one or more of the above tips. However, spinal arthritis can affect the facet joints between each backbone in the lumbar spine, eventually leading to constant bone and/or nerve pain. Only a doctor can determine if arthritis of the facet joints is the source of chronic lumbar pain.
Sperling Medical Group offers a new noninvasive MRI-guided treatment called Focused Ultrasound, a one-time noninvasive outpatient procedure that gives lasting relief without the use of drugs, injections or surgery. To learn more, visit the Sperling Medical Group or contact us to set up a consultation.
NOTE: This content is solely for purposes of information and does not substitute for diagnostic or medical advice. Talk to your doctor if you have health concerns or questions of a personal medical nature.
- Facet Pain