Ways to Help Ease Lower Back Pain

From Everyday Health

Back pain affects about 80 percent of us at some point. In fact, low back pain causes more disability worldwide than any other health condition, according to a new study published in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases. The problem will only get worse over the next few decades as the world population and the proportion of older people continues to grow, warned the study’s authors.

Here are 4 proven ways you can ease low back pain.

1. Get moving, get stronger, and stretch. Exercise is a great way to improve back strength and relieve chronic back pain. Strengthening exercises like weightlifting not only help build bone density, they can also ease back pain.

Although weightlifting can help reduce back pain, make sure you’re doing it right: Always warm up before hitting the weights, and practice good posture and proper breathing during your workout.

Another movement idea: Take yoga or stretching classes. People who participated in yoga or stretching classes were more likely to reduce their intake of pain meds compared to people who managed symptoms on their own, according to a 2011 study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine. But remember, if you suffer from back pain, talk to your doctor before starting any new exercise regimens.

2. Try medications. Your doctor may recommend over-the-counter NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) like aspirin and ibuprofen for back-pain relief. But overuse of these meds can cause side effects, so talk to your doc right away if your back pain doesn’t get better.

Other meds your doctor might also prescribe: narcotics like codeine or hydrocodone, or muscle relaxants. These meds can only be used for a short period, however, and under the close supervision of your doctor.

3. Make time for massages. Massage therapy can also help soothe the sore area – a 2011 study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that massage therapy eased chronic low back pain and improved function even after six months.

4. Try home remedies. Suffering from acute – short-term – back pain? There are a lot of home care remedies that can ease your pain. When back pain strikes, try a hot or cold pack for temporary relief. Heat therapy promotes blood flow to the inflamed part of the body, which allows the muscles to relax. Cold therapy slows blood flow to the inflamed body part, which reduces swelling.

Regardless of which pain relief method you try, time matters. Go see your doc if your back pain lasts for more than three weeks.