If you have ever suffered from back pain then you know how debilitating it can be. There isn’t one single activity that doesn’t involve your spine and its associated muscles so there’s no escaping it when it strikes. Even just simply resting will likely make it worse so you need a good set of strategies to best overcome it if it does appear. Now, obviously, back pain can vary significantly in its severity, from tightness, right through to immobility, so if you are experiencing severe back pain then be cautious about movements and seek immediate emergency medical advice. Some key symptoms that will require immediate medical attention include back pain that:
- Carries on for longer than a few weeks. Most back pain should usually correct itself with home care within this time frame.
- Maintains a severity despite rest.
- Causes pain to spread down one or both legs. This is particularly of concern if the pain moves below the knees. This can indicate sciatic nerve issues.
- Cause any weakness, numbness or tingling in the legs.
- Is accompanied by unexplained weight loss.
If your back pain causes bowel or bladder problems, is accompanied by a fever or is the result of a fall then ensure that you seek medical attention right away.
Outside of these more extreme cases though, back pain can develop for a vast number of reasons. Some of these include:
Repetition or sudden awkward movements involving the lifting of heavy objects is a common cause of back pain. If the muscles in your back are not well developed then this can result in incredibly uncomfortable spasms in the back.
Discs are the important cushions between the bones and the spine. If the soft material inside a disk bulges or ruptures then this can put pressure on a nerve. An X-ray, CT scan or MRI will be needed to confirm damage to a disc.
Osteoarthritis can particularly affect the lower back and wreak all kinds of havoc on the spine.
As osteoporosis weakens the bones, making them porous and brittle, this can lead to painful breaks in the spine’s vertebrae.
Now, not all of these conditions are avoidable but there are quite a few key things that you can do to fortify your back against pain. Here are some that can set you up to live pain free:
Get a good night’s sleep
This isn’t only about duration, it’s also about quality. Back pain can make sleeping well a real struggle and a poor sleeping position can even be the cause of your back pain. Laying on your side is the first step to a good night's sleep that will benefit your spine. You can also couple this with another cushion between your knees, which can help to put your spine into a neutral position. The quality of your mattress and pillow will also make a big difference in helping your body get the rest it needs to both protect your back or recover from injury.
This is an obvious one but as anybody who has spent extended periods typing away can attest, it’s far easier said than done. Any reminders, whether visual or auditory can be highly beneficial to ensure that you don’t slip into bad habits. Physical supports like a pillow or a rolled up towel between your lower back and the seat can also really help to block bad posture. You might be able to escape the desk but you can hopefully escape the usual pain associated by practising good posture.
It may seem counterintuitive if you’re in pain but remaining stationary can further aggravate back pain. Light exercising, like swimming and walking will typically help to alleviate back pain. Stretching regimes, like yoga, will also be typically effective in not only alleviating back pain but can also help to strengthen your back against further issues.
Embrace a regular massage
A regular massage has been found to limit pain and improve functioning for those suffering from back pain. So, don’t feel like a massage needs to be a splurge every few months. Look to incorporate it into a regular routine of back maintenance.
Heating and cooling
Heat on areas of pain can be especially effective in reducing pain as it can relax the muscles and also works to increase blood flow to the area, which can help with repair. On the other end of the spectrum, ice can be used to help reduce inflammation. This simple approach can be a real relief when back pain strikes.
Now, maybe you’ve tried all these tips already but the pain isn’t easing much. It may be time to seek out a discount pharmacy and explore your painkiller options. Here are some of the best over-the-counter pain relievers for back pain:
There are a wide range of brand options for ibuprofen. The important things to be aware of with ibuprofen is that it is a NSAID (Non-Steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drug), meaning it acts to decrease inflammation and that ibuprofen doses need to be carefully monitored so as not to cause other serious medical complications. You do not require a prescription for ibuprofen so they are a good option for purchasing from a discount pharmacy. If the pain is really severe then consult your doctor as prescription based doses are available.
This is another NSAID which works by lowering inflammation but its pain relief tends to last longer than ibuprofen. This makes it a particularly good choice for night time pain relief to assist with sleeping. The same dose risks apply as with ibuprofen but it can be purchased from a discount pharmacy.
Paracetamol works by impacting different paths in the brain relating to pain and temperature. There are several different brands and it can be purchased from a discount pharmacy. Be aware though that failure to follow dosage instructions can lead to serious health problems and continued use should only be undertaken in consultation with a doctor.
Gels are a great option for back pain relief as they can be applied directly to the area of the greatest pain for immediate relief. It works similar to an NSAID by limiting inflammation but is more targeted. Brands like Voltaren can be purchased from a discount pharmacy.
Medication shouldn’t be your first option with back pain but it can be a really helpful element of treatment. This is particularly true if it helps get you active and moving again sooner. Always be aiming to strengthen your back and core but know there is pain relief available for those times when you may have overdone it.