Ever felt those pangs of pain in your lower back and didn’t know why any of it was happening or what you could do to cure it? Maybe it’s that old back of yours “acting up” like it had been known to do a few times in the past. Whatever might the reason be, here’s everything you need to know about back pain so that you are better prepared in the future.
Lumbago, more commonly referred to as lower back pain, is not a disorder, as one might believe. It is the culmination of symptoms of various types of medical issues and is caused by problems in your ligaments, muscles, nerves, or vertebrae. Sometimes, a few mishaps going on in the nearby organs like your kidneys can also result in extreme back pain.
Early-stage back pain doesn’t call for much concern, as its effects decrease almost all the time. However, you must go to your doctor for advice if you see the following symptoms:
- Loss of bowel movement control
- A numbing, or tingling sensation in one or both legs.
- Constant intense pain that gets worse at night
- Unexplained weight loss
- Pain connected with a throbbing sensation in the abdomen
Before looking at the remedies for back pain, let’s take a look at a few areas which could be causing your back to be all “worked up”:
One major cause of back pain is a strain on your muscles. This can happen because of sudden awkward movements, overdoing an activity that puts enormous pressure on your back, or even something menial like incorrectly lifting a heavy object.
- STRUCTURAL PROBLEMS
The vertebrae on our back that make up the spine are merged with tissues called discs. Certain activities can cause sudden bulging, herniating, or rupturing of the discs, resulting in nerve compression, and hence back injuries.
More commonly called spinal osteoarthritis, this condition arises from long-term damage and deterioration in the cartilage of joints in the lower back. If not treated in time, this can lead to the narrowing of the spinal column or spinal stenosis.
- EMOTIONAL HEALTH
Your emotional health also affects your back pain. You may be at a higher risk for back pain if you are at a stressful job or have depression or anxiety.
Weight gain during pregnancy causes additional stress to the back and core muscles. The centre of gravity of the body also moves outward, as the body grows, and therefore the spine and back are arched to compensate for this change in balance. This results in discomfort and eventually, pressure on the human back.
The good news is nine times out of ten; the pain goes away naturally without any surgery whatsoever. Usually, over-the-counter pain medications are good enough. In case it persists, make sure to talk to your doctor. Nevertheless, here are a few ways in which you can treat back pain:
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) such as Ibuprofen (Motrin) and naproxen (Aleve) relieve the majority of the back pain episodes. Be careful about using medications like Ibuprofen if you have kidney problems or stomach ulcers. Pain relievers, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), also work.
Be very careful about the medication dosage. Do not take more than recommended, as these have severe side effects.
- ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Alternative methods include – acupuncture, massages, chiropractic adjustments, cognitive behavioural therapy, and relaxation techniques. Opioids that act on the body and brain cells to reduce pain can be taken in cases of severe pain.
In the case of recurring muscle spasms, one thing that tends to work is muscle relaxants. These are especially helpful when dealing with lower back pain as well.
Cortisone steroid injections can be taken as well for severe back pain, with a due recommendation from your doctor.
When it comes to nerve-related pain, antidepressants are the way to go. These can also be used to cure back problems on occasions.
In case you want a complementary treatment, make sure to consult your doctor.
- HOME REMEDIES FOR BACK PAIN
There are certain things that you can do as well if you want to cure your back pain sitting at home. A few of them are:
- HEAT/ICE THERAPY
Ice helps to cure inflammation. Wrap it in a thin towel or gauze and apply it to your skin, but not directly, to not damage your skin. Alternate between heat and ice packs.
Exercise helps strengthen core muscles (back and abdominal muscles) and improve posture. A physical therapist can help you go through this treatment. It includes using proper techniques, strengthening core muscles, stretching muscles, and improving posture.
- ESSENTIAL OILS
Lavender essential oils and ointments that contain capsaicin (found in peppers) also helps in decreasing back pain.
- SALT BATH
Salt baths can be very relaxing. Your body absorbs the salt minerals from it, and that helps aching muscles. Epsom salt is an added boost for your back pain.
If medicines and therapy don’t respond, surgery is your last resort. Painful motion of the spine can be eliminated through a surgery called spinal fusion, wherein the vertebrae are fused into a single bone. Degenerative bone diseases can also be cured through surgery.
Back pain is a common ailment, especially in older people. And sometimes it becomes chronic. Most of the time, these issues get resolved on their own, but sometimes you may need the help of a doctor (if your back pain persists for more than two weeks) to prescribe medication or go for surgery. Lead a healthy and active lifestyle, and you’ll automatically become more robust and resilient. At the end of the day, our backs are the “backbones” of our body, and taking care of them will lead to a healthier and happier life in the long run.