Do you have chronic back pain? If you wake up with back pain or experience back pain by the end of each day, you are suffering unnecessarily. Back pain is not a normal part of aging or something you should ignore. Pain always has a cause, meaning something is not right with your spine or the muscles in your back. It may be due to poor posture, weak core muscles, or an actual injury like a herniated or slipped disk.
Whatever the cause, consider trying one or a combination of the following suggestions for how to improve back pain.
- Stretch daily. One of the best things you can do for your back is to stretch daily. Full body stretches are good for your back as well as the rest of your body. The key to stretching is to move slowly and gently to avoid doing any harm. Bend over and touch your toes if you can, or work up to the point where you can touch your toes. Sit with your legs straight out in front of you and reach for your toes. Stretching your legs, arms, and neck will also help to relieve back pain as the parts of your body are connected to your spine. Try these stretching exercises for your back.
- Exercise. It can be hard to exercise when your back hurts, but it can help to relieve your pain by warming up your muscles. Try low impact exercises that won’t cause additional harm or injury to your back. Yoga is a good type of exercise for back pain because it is low impact and involves full-body stretching. Consider riding a recumbent exercise bike that has ample back support. There are many exercises you can do that will not only help to relieve your back pain, but will strengthen your back muscles to prevent it.
- Focus on good posture. Poor posture is one of the leading causes of back pain. If you sit at a desk most of the day, lounge on the couch, or walk with your head down and shoulders hunched, you will most likely have a sore back by the end of the day. Instead, focus on standing up straight with the shoulders back, your eyes straight forward, and your abdominal muscles pulled in tightly. Sit up straight in your desk chair and make sure it has adequate lumbar support. Make sure your computer and keyboard are at the right level. And don’t spend hours slouching on the couch; get up and move every 30 minutes or so.
- Get a new mattress. Consider the condition of your mattress. Have you had it for more than 8-10 years? It may be providing less support than you need. Maybe you have a mattress that is too soft or too firm. You may find that you can benefit from a mattress that allows you to adjust the firmness to your personal preferences. You can experiment to find the right firmness setting for you that may relieve your back pain and allow you to get a better night’s sleep.
- Experiment with different pillows. The pillow you use can also make a difference when it comes to back pain. If you sleep on your side you may need a thicker pillow, but if you sleep on your back you may need a thinner pillow. It can also help to put a pillow between your knees if you sleep on your side or under your knees if you sleep on your back. A long body pillow may be the most comfortable option, allowing you to wrap your body around it as you sleep on your side. A pillow between your legs can help to keep your hips in alignment, which may relieve back pain.
- Over the counter pain medication. A temporary solution for back pain may be over the counter pain medication like ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or acetaminophen (Tylenol). Taking these may relieve your pain enough that you can get up and move around. However, you should not take these medications over the long term. If your back pain does not subside after a few days with medication, it may be best to contact your doctor.
- Prescription pain medication. When over the counter pain medication is not effective, doctors can prescribe other types of pain medication that are stronger or work differently. However, there are risks and side effects associated with these medications. There are other health implications they may cause and they are also habit-forming. It is not recommended that you take prescription pain medication over the long term.
- Go to a chiropractor. Back pain may be caused by a spinal misalignment. Chiropractors specialize in realignment of the spine to relieve pain and improve your musculoskeletal function. The spine is the center of your body. All of your bones and muscles are connected to your spine. If it is out of alignment, the rest of your body cannot function properly. Chiropractic adjustments may be an effective way to relieve your back pain without medication and with longer lasting results.
- Physical therapy. Your back pain may be due to an injury to your back, either from an accident or from the effects of stress to your back over time. Physical therapy can help you stretch and strengthen your back so that it can heal. Exercises are designed to teach your body how to move properly to prevent pain. Physical therapy includes in-person appointments with your physical therapist and exercises you can do at home. Physical therapy is another way to relieve your pain without medication.
- Avoid bed rest. When your back hurts it is tempting to lay in bed. However, this is counterproductive. The longer you lay in bed, the more your back will hurt and become weaker. Getting out of bed and moving will loosen up your muscles and prevent further injury to your back. If you need to rest due to loss of sleep, be sure to get up and move around every few hours.
- Apply ice. Back pain can be caused by inflammation and swelling. Applying ice to your back can reduce swelling and inflammation to relieve pain and promote healing. Wrap an ice pack in a towel to protect your skin from the extreme cold and place it on your back for 20 minutes at a time several times a day.
- Use a heating pad. Heat can also relieve pain, loosen tight muscles, and promote healing for your back. Apply a heating pad or warm pack to your back a few times a day. Lay the heating pad on your back and avoid leaning back on it. Make sure it is wrapped in a cloth or towel to protect your skin from the heat. A warm bath or shower is another way to apply heat to your back and relieve your pain. Alternating between heat and ice can also accelerate healing.
- Massage therapy. Get a thorough back massage from a massage therapist. Massage helps to loosen muscles and release endorphins that provide temporary relief of pain. Getting regular massages may be enough to relieve your pain, but you may need a more long term solution if your back pain persists.
- Antidepressant medication. For some reason antidepressants have been shown to relieve back pain. Medical experts are not yet sure why this is, other than the fact that antidepressant medication affects the way the brain processes pain. Further research may lead to more information on this topic.
- Talk therapy. In addition to antidepressant medication, talk therapy can also relieve lower back pain. Regular cognitive therapy may change the way you think about pain and the way you feel about physical activity, which could improve back pain by encouraging you to exercise more.
- Nerve stimulation. Another treatment that is sometimes used to relieve pain is nerve stimulation. This involves sending electrical pulses to the nerves in order to block the incoming pain signals. Again, this is a temporary solution that does not address the source of the pain.
- Biofeedback. Another natural treatment for pain is biofeedback. This therapy helps you learn to control the way you respond to pain. You can learn to regulate your breathing and your muscle tension, which can help moderate your blood flow and heart rate. This requires no medication and can equip you with lifelong skills for pain management.
- Diet changes. There are specific drinks, foods, and herbs that are known to have anti-inflammatory properties. Turmeric, cherry juice, ginger, green tea, tomatoes, olive oil, nuts, fish, and leafy green vegetables can help to reduce inflammation and improve back pain.
- Meditation. Meditation has the power to help you relax your mind and body, as well as change the way you think and feel. Many people with chronic pain in the back or anywhere else in the body, have found that meditation is a chemical-free way to reduce pain.
- Vitamin supplements. Certain vitamins, especially vitamin D3, have been shown to help with bone, neuromuscular, and immune system health, all of which can have an impact on back pain.
Why Chiropractic Treatment and Physical Therapy Are Beneficial for Back Pain
Of the above tips for how to improve back pain, chiropractic treatment and physical therapy are two of the most beneficial options. These two therapies are all-natural, do not involve medication, and they get to the source of the pain in order to treat and eliminate it. Chiropractic treatment realigns your spine so that your musculoskeletal system can work properly. Physical therapy helps you strengthen your muscles and learn how to correctly move your body to avoid inflicting pain.
How To Improve Back Pain With Kim Chiropractic and Rehab
If you’re experiencing sudden or chronic back pain, Kim Chiropractic and Rehab provides both physical therapy and chiropractic services. We have found that a combination of these two therapies is sometimes the best solution for pain, especially back pain. Two things are necessary for a healthy, pain-free back: a properly aligned spine and strong back and core muscles. Kim Chiropractic and Rehab can help you achieve both.
Contact us at any of our convenient locations to schedule a consultation. We look forward to providing you with lasting relief of your back pain.