Back pain is not pleasant, very common and yet will normally improve in a few weeks or months. It is, however, sometimes bad enough to warrant some back pain relief medication or treatment. Read on to see if anything here can help you find your solution.
Lower back pain (known as lumbago) is particularly common, but it can be felt anywhere along the spine, all the way down from the neck to the hips.
The most gratifying thing to note (even though you may not think so at this time) is that in most cases the pain isn’t caused by anything serious. You will find it will naturally get better over time.
Sometimes back pain is recurring or lasts a long time. There are things you can do to help relieve it.
How to relieve back pain
The following tips can help reduce your backache and speed up recovery:
- stay active – try to continue your daily activities as normally as possible – this is one of the most vital things to do, because long periods of rest can certainly help to to make the pain worse
- try exercises and stretches for back pain; or other activities like walking, swimming, yogaand pilates. You may find these to be helpful
- take anti-inflammatory painkillers, such as ibuprofen– remember to check the medicine is safe for you to take first. Consult your doctor or ask a pharmacist if you’re not sure to get the best advice
- use hot or cold compression packs for short-term relief – you can get these from your local pharmacy. A hot water bottle and a bag of frozen vegetables wrapped in a cloth can work just as well.
It may be difficult to get this, but it helps if you stay optimistic and understand that your pain should get better. This is because people who manage to stay positive, despite their pain, tend to recover quicker.
Getting help and advice on back pain relief
Back pain will often get better on its own in a few weeks or months and you may not need to see a doctor or other healthcare professional.
However, it’s a good idea to get help if:
- the pain doesn’t start to improve in a few weeks
- the pain prevents you doing your day-to-day activities
- the pain is severe or getting worse over time
- you’re worried about the pain or are struggling to cope
Go to see your doctor, who will ask about your symptoms, examine your back, and discuss possible treatment with you. You may need to be referred to a specialist or a physiotherapist for further help with your problem.
You could cut out the visit to the doctor and consider approaching a physiotherapist directly. This will usually cut down on the time to be seen.
Go here to learn how to find a physiotherapist. (UK based)
Treatments from a back pain relief specialist
Your doctor, specialist or physiotherapist may recommend extra treatments if they don’t believe your pain will improve with self-help measures alone.
These may include:
- group exercise classes– where you’re taught exercises to strengthen your muscles and improve your posture
- manual therapy– treatments such as manipulating the spine and massage, usually carried out by physiotherapists, chiropractors or osteopaths
- psychological support, such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)– which can be very useful as part of treatment if you’re struggling to cope with pain
Some people choose to get early back pain relief by visiting a therapist for manual therapy without seeing their doctor. If you want to take this option, you’ll need to pay for that treatment.
Surgery is generally only considered in a small number of cases where back pain is caused by a specific medical condition.
Causes of back pain
It’s not possible to identify the cause of back pain in many cases. Doctors call this “non-specific” back pain.
Sometimes the pain may be a result of an injury such as a sprain or strain, but often it occurs for no apparent reason. It’s very rarely caused by anything serious.
Occasionally back pain can be due to a medical condition such as:
- a slipped (prolapsed) disc– where a disc of cartilage in the spine presses on a nearby nerve
- sciatica– irritation of the nerve that runs from the pelvis to the feet
These conditions tend to cause additional symptoms – such as numbness, weakness or a tingling sensation – and they’re treated differently to non-specific back pain.
Preventing back pain
It’s difficult to prevent back pain, but the following tips may help reduce your risk:
- do regular back exercises and stretches– your doctor or a physiotherapist may be able to advise you about exercises to try
- stay active – doing regular exercisecan help keep your back strong; adults are advised to do 150 minutes of exercise a week
- avoid sitting for too long when driving or at work
- take care when lifting – read some safe lifting tips
- check your posture when sitting, using computers and watching television – find out how to sit correctlyand tips for laptop users
- ensure the mattress on your bed supports you properly
- lose weightthrough a combination of a healthy diet and regular exercise if you’re overweight – being overweight can increase your risk of developing back pain.
We at EPMG have some recommended products for back pain relief that have been tried and tested if none of these options work for you. They may prove to be cheaper than going to a therapist, but be sure to get your doctor’s advice before you try ANYTHING if you’re unsure.