Home Health Tips for Chronic Back Pain
Chronic back pain is one of the most common reasons people give in and go to the doctor. It might seem like nothing you do at home provides lasting relief. Unfortunately, the back is a complex structure that contains multiple joints and a vast network of nerves all surrounded by connective tissue and muscle. One injury can have a domino effect.
The truth is home care is your first line of defense against chronic back pain. It takes good technique and a lot of patience to get there, though. Consider some practical approaches to dealing with your back pain at home.
Basic First Aid for Back Injuries
Some straightforward first aid is a good place to start. For back pain that generally means a steady campaign of ice and heat. Apply ice to your back up to four times a day or when it starts to hurt. Make sure to ice the site right after you exercise, too, to reduce inflammation.
Avoid using heat if you have a sudden flare up, too; you want to grab the ice pack instead. Heat may feel good but it just leads to more inflammation and you’ll pay for that later. Heat is a good choice for overall body aches that you might feel a little more in your back due to a long day at work or when you’re just tired.
Avoid Too Much Bed Rest with Back Pain
Your first inclination will be to rest your back when it’s acting up, but that is usually the wrong choice. If you simply can’t move then you need medical treatment, but, otherwise, make every attempt to get out of bed unless the doctor tells you to stay there. The spine is a structure designed to move and if you stay inactive, it stiffens up further.
Get up and do something even if it just means walking across the room a few times. Don’t avoid your daily exercise routine if possible. You might need to change it out, though, like going for a swim instead of a run. Water therapy gets the back muscles moving and keeps you mobile without that high-impact stress.
Speaking of Exercise, Strengthen Your Back
People with back pain often avoid regular exercise thinking their back can’t handle the strain. The truth is the stronger your back, the less chance you will have chronic back problems. Exercise also improves your overall flexibility and strengthens the muscles in the core that support the back. It will ward off those bad habits that contribute to back pain, as well, like poor posture.
When you know you will be sitting for long periods of time, maybe at work, for instances, factor in some stretching breaks. Stretching wakes up muscles that have been static for too long and increases circulation.
For a Healthier Back, Change Your Lifestyle
Chances are some of the things you do in life contribute to your back pain. The little things add up like:
- Wearing shoes with heels
- Slumping over a computer keyboard
- Lifting with your back instead of your knees
It’s time to evaluate your lifestyle to see what might be at the heart of your persistent back pain. Start by dropping any extra pounds and improving your exercise routine. Look for some ergonomic alternatives for your home and office workspace, too. Pay special attention to your posture. Just by getting into the habit of walking and sitting with your back straight, you are already taking some of the pressure off your spine.
All these changes should come after you see a physician, though. Back pain might be a symptom of something you can’t afford to ignore. The occasional twinge will benefit from a little self-care but for recurring pain, call your Milwaukee spine doctor to get a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.