Lower back pain is a leading cause of visits to family practice physicians and pain management physicians. Most pain of this sort is caused by physical over-exertion; time and rest is usually the best treatment for this type of back pain. However, lower lumbar area back pain can also be a serious condition caused by herniated spinal disks. If you have suffered a severe back injury, make an immediate appointment with your physician! This is not the type of pain that you should try to self-treat. Herniated spinal disks that press on nerve endings can cause excruciating pain and even paralysis; treatment of this condition requires a physician’s skill.
Many people suffer from lower back pain due to strain, improperly picking up heavy objects, slipping and falling, osteoporosis, and other causes. If this is your case, this article contains some well-researched tips that might help you ease that annoying, painful condition. If, however, after trying these methods you still have pain, please see your physician. The products below have been tried and tested by back pain patients who have achieved some degree of relief. Often, you will have to use the “trial and error” method to see which self-treatment works best for you.
First, the application of heat to the affected area is very helpful. Sunbeam makes a heating pad that is specially designed to help relieve back pain; it is well padded, has a temperature regulator that automatically shuts off after two hours, and is large enough to reach all the way around your back. You should NEVER sleep with an operating heating pad; this could result in severe burns. Sunbeam’s heating pad shuts itself off, a feature lacking in most other brands.
You can purchase heating thermal patches at your local drug store. Instead of lying down with a heating pad, these thermal patches, such as Thermal Strip, allow you to continue with your daily routine while gently heating the painful area of your back. Follow the package directions and make sure you don’t over-use these patches; if you notice signs of skin irritation at the site of the patch, stop using it right away.
Massage therapy is extremely successful in treating lower back pain. Since this treatment tends to be costly – up to $60 per hour, and isn’t covered by most insurance plans, consider trying a massaging whirlpool in your bath rub. Hometics makes a reasonably-priced unit that fits over the rim of your tub, creating a soothing whirlpool that you can aim directly at the painful areas of your back. The company advises that you use the “tub spa” for 15-30 minutes at a time, every day until your pain improves.
Do you have a back-support pillow? How about a special mattress for back pain sufferers? The best-selling brand of back support pillows and mattresses is Doctor’s Choice, available at Denver Mattress stores or other fine furniture stores. Once you have these products, you will notice an immediate difference in your sleep patterns. The Doctor’s Choice mattress doesn’t feel like you’re sleeping on a cement slab, as other brands sometimes do. It firmly supports your back, but is also specially padded and extremely comfortable. If you purchase the gel/foam mattress cover, you’ll be amazed at how soft the bed feels as it supports the painful areas of your back. No more tossing and turning, trying to get comfortable. No more waking up feeling stiff and painful. Special mattresses and pillows are tax deductible if you acquire a statement from a physician saying that you need these things; physicians are very accommodating in recommending back-support mattresses. Doctor’s Choice mattresses are no more expensive than “regular” mattresses; a queen-sized mattress, pad and pillow set costs about $700 and has a 15-year warranty.
One essential product that you may not realize you need is a back-support cushion for the chair in your office, the chair you sit in while you watch TV, and the seat in your car. Core Products makes a back-support cushion that keeps your back straight and well-aligned while you’re sitting or driving. The cushion sells for less than $20 at medical supply stores. Since uncomfortable chairs and car seats, plus poor posture while sitting or driving, aggravates lower back pain, this cushion makes sure you’re sitting up straight rather than slouching in your chair or car seat.
What about medications? You have several options with over-the-counter medications. Acetaminophen, the active ingredient in Tylenol, is an excellent pain reliever, but you must be cautious in using it. Over-use of Tylenol can cause severe liver disease, especially if you drink alcohol. Never take more than the recommended dose, and do not drink alcohol while you’re taking Tylenol for back pain. Ibuprofen is the active ingredient in Motrin, Aleve and Advil. This drug is an NSAID – Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug. It reduces pain and swelling in your lower back. It too must not be over-used; NSAIDs can cause gastric pain and ulcers if used in large quantities for prolonged periods of time.
If you experience some stomach pain taking this medication, try some Pepto-Bismol to coat your stomach and prevent irritation by the NSAID. Another type of medication is homeopathic compounds; these are very small quantities of herbal remedies that are available in your drug store and on the Internet. Radiance Remedies makes a homeopathic medication that contains all natural ingredients and is made in accordance with the Homeopathic Pharmacopoeia of the United States. Another very popular homeopathic compound is Dr. Frank’s Joint and Muscle Pain Relief spray, available on the Internet. Both of these preparations are used under the tongue, which is a very effective spot for the ingredients to be absorbed into your bloodstream. Homeopathic preparations are safe and cause no harm when used correctly. They either work for you, or they don’t. Again, you may need to do some “trial and error” investigation to see if homeopathy helps you.
Finally, a very popular and effective treatment for lower back pain is the use of a TENS unit; you will need a doctor’s prescription to obtain a TENS, but once you have it, you’re free to use it as you wish. The TENS is about the size of a pager and is battery-operated. It clips easily to your belt. Attached via thin cords to electrode pads that you place on your areas of pain, the TENS delivers mild electrical stimulation to your sore back muscles. The Johari TENS is a best-seller because of its history of durability over time. You can buy the Johari TENS and the electrodes at a medical supply company for about $200, which is tax-deductible.
Take your lower back pain seriously; pain is our body’s way of telling us that somethings wrong. Learn to live and work in a manner that doesn’t strain your lower back muscles, and you can save yourself a lot of discomfort and expense.