What Do I Use for Lower Back Pain

Lower back pain is probably one of the top reasons why people visit the doctor. 

Back pain isn’t typically a disease. Most people experience some lower back pain at some point. The back is a complex system of bones, ligaments, nerves, disks, and joints. 

Most back pain will ease up naturally, however, some people experience a recurrence in the next few months or within a year. 

If you are prone to lower back pain you might want to adopt a multi-pronged approach. By combining different pain relief treatments you can get some respite from lower back pain. 

Here are some tips to try to manage your lower back pain.

Exercise

If you feel stiff and in pain, you may not feel like exercising. But getting your heart rate up with some intense exercise is one of the best things to do for lower back pain.

Cardio exercise triggers dopamine production naturally in the body. Dopamine is a natural painkiller and can also lift your mood.

If the thought of running fills you with dread you can always go for a brisk walk around the block. Or you could try hill-walking in the countryside.

Exercise is essential for weight management. If you’re overweight you can significantly improve your back pain by losing some weight.

Lower back pain is often associated with a weakened core. 

To strengthen your core muscles try to do yoga or Pilates regularly. Strong stomach muscles can better support your back and protect it from further injury.

Stretching

Tight hamstrings are associated with lower back pain. If you can stretch out your hamstrings it should provide immediate relief.

A great stretch you could try is the wall hamstring stretch. This stretch aims to straighten each leg so that your hamstring releases tension.

Lie on your back on the floor next to a sofa. Raise one leg then straighten it so that it’s 90 degrees to the floor. Next, curl your toes towards your body. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds or so, then repeat on the next leg.

Be careful with this stretch though. Only do what you can manage and don’t overdo it. If you’re not sure it might be best to check with your doc or a physical therapist.

Heat and Cold

Placing a heat pad or a hot water bottle on your lower back is an excellent way to relieve that pesky lower back pain.

There are different types of heat pads available such as gel-based pads that mold around your body. Other types include pads that you stick in the microwave.

A nice relaxing hot bath can also be a fantastic remedy. Heat relaxes the muscles and your mind, which is essential for managing pain.

Mindfulness

Perception of pain can be influenced if you’re feeling stressed or anxious about it. Depression and anxiety can make lower back pain seem much worse than it is.

If you improve your state of mind you can reduce the severity of your pain. The key is to get those feel-good chemicals going, and there is a variety of ways you can do this.

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) combined with cognitive behavioral therapy may be recommended by your physician for chronic lower back pain. By working out the causes of negative thought patterns you can heal anxiety and depression. Healthier coping strategies in times of stress builds self-esteem, self-confidence, and an overall sense of wellbeing. 

MBSR focuses on awareness and acceptance of the present moment. Living in the here and now can enable you to concentrate on other more enjoyable things rather than your pain.

If you’ve tried different medications and physical therapy but you’re still suffering MBSR and cognitive behavioral therapy can help you deal with the pain better.

Sleep

A good night of restorative sleep can be a wonderful pain reliever. But, what if you can’t sleep due to the pain?

The best position to sleep in for lower back pain is on your back. Sleeping on your stomach is the worst thing you can do for lower back pain. 

You can train yourself to sleep on your back by turning over every time you catch yourself moving onto your front. If you can do this consistently you will naturally sleep on your back eventually. For extra comfort for your back place a pillow under your legs.

If you prefer to sleep on your side, place a pillow between your knees, this will help to keep your spine in alignment while you sleep.

Pain Medication

For lower back pain Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatories such as Ibuprofen and Naproxen can provide enough relief. Over-the-counter NSAIDs are the mildest form of painkiller, but your physician can prescribe stronger ones such as:

  • Celecoxib
  • Nabumetone
  • Meloxicam
  • Diclofenac

If you take NSAIDs for a long time you could be at risk of side effects such as stomach or liver problems.

Tylenol is another pain medication that isn’t anti-inflammatory but it can help. Long-term use of Tylenol can also cause side-effects and you have to be careful to not take more than the stated dose.

If you take these medications regularly for longer than 3 months you can potentially develop complications.

Pain Relief Gels

You may want to try topical painkillers instead as these won’t affect your stomach or kidneys. Pain relief gels contain active ingredients such as eucalyptus, arnica, and tea tree oil which create heat or cold sensation on the skin. Heat and cold can be effective for relieving back pain.

Topical gels and creams can help with pain although they won’t cure it. One thing to remember is not to rub your eyes after using heat gels and creams. 

Massage Therapy

Massage therapy can provide considerable relief to lower back pain, especially if it’s muscular. It warms the muscles and creates a relaxed state of mind that produces dopamine and serotonin. 

Massage also helps with sleep, relieves muscle soreness, and can improve your range of motion. While massage doesn’t cure low back pain it can help considerably.