Dealing with a back injuries or chronic back pain can make life difficult. It can really get in the way of doing the things that you want to do, such as participate in sports and other physical activities. It can even cause you to be in constant pain when you aren't doing anything at all.
The first response that many doctors have is to prescribe pain medication. However, even though it can be helpful in the short-term, staying on pain medication for long periods of time often isn't a good thing. It can cause side effects, such as affecting your liver or causing you to feel woozy and "out of it," among other things. It can also cause you not to feel any pain, which can cause you to overexert yourself and make your injury even worse without even realizing it.
It's also possible to become immune to your pain medication after taking it for a long time, meaning that you can still be in serious pain after you have taken your medication. Then, doctors often prescribe higher and higher doses and stronger and stronger medications. Some people even suffer from addiction issues because of pain medication that they were prescribed for their back pain.
Overall, it is a good idea to look for ways to treat your back pain without taking medication or while taking it minimally -- on an as-needed basis -- rather than taking it every day. Luckily, there are treatment options that can actually be more effective than pain medication, so exploring your options is smart. Then, you may be able to finally get some relief from your pain without having to take strong medication.
One excellent -- and highly relaxing -- option for treating your back pain is scheduling an appointment with a massage therapist. Consider looking for a massage therapist who specializes in helping with medical issues and pain rather than going to a spa for best results. Talk to your massage therapist about the pain in your back so that he or she can tailor your massage to help with the discomfort. Along with being a great option for treating back injuries and back pain, it can also be a good way to treat yourself and feel pampered, which might be just what you need while going through a tough recovery from a back injury!
A chiropractor can help with adjusting your spine, which can be highly beneficial if you suffer from back pain. A chiropractic appointment can also help with other sources of pain, such as pain in your neck.
A good treatment option that you can tackle on your own at home is a heat or cold treatment. You may need to experiment with the two to determine which is best for you. You have a few options for heat treatments, such as:
- Heating Pad - Using an electric heating pad can be smart because you can enjoy a constant source of heat without having to worry about heating anything up yourself.
- Hot Bath - Drawing up a warm bath and allowing yourself to soak for 20 to 30 minutes can be a wonderful, effective and relaxing option for helping with back pain. If you prefer showers, standing with your back to the stream of warm water can also provide some comfort.
- Microwaveable Heat Pack - There are gel packs, packs that are filled with rice or beans and other similar packs that can be heated up briefly in the microwave.
- Sauna - If you have a sauna at your local gym or spa, treating yourself to some time in the sauna can be helpful
- Hot Water Bottle - Filling up an old water bottle with very hot water can be a great way to provide yourself with heat treatment. Plus, it's a great option because you don't have to worry about spending any money -- instead, you can just use an old water bottle or other bottle that you have lying around the house.
Alternatively, you might find that a cold treatment is more effective for your back pain. For example, for short-term pain from a temporary injury, a cold treatment can help with swelling and discomfort. You can fill up a plastic zip-top bag with ice, use a bag of frozen vegetables straight from the freezer or use an ice pack, which you can purchase at a pharmacy or mass market retail store.
Did you know that physical therapy is an option for those who suffer from a back injury? It's often a great choice in the weeks and months after an injury to help you get back on track. Your physical therapist will work with you to help you get back to your favorite activities without causing your injury to worsen and can help teach you stretches and exercises that can help alleviate your pain. If you are an active person who is planning on getting back into working out or playing sports, it is definitely a good idea to work with a physical therapist so that you can get back into doing your regular activities without hurting yourself.
Changes to Activities
Along with trying various treatments for your back pain, it's also helpful to make lifestyle changes if you want to avoid making your injury worse and if you want to help prevent pain flare-ups. For example, you may want to discontinue strenuous physical activity or participate in lighter workouts temporarily, until your back injury gets better or until you are able to work with a physical therapist. These are a few other lifestyle changes that you might want to consider making if you want to limit your pain:
- Avoid lifting heavy items. When you do need to lift heavier things, make sure that you lift with your legs and not your back. This is always important but can have a more serious impact if you already have an injured back.
- Consider sleeping on your side. You may find that putting a pillow between your legs provides you with more comfort. Test out different mattresses; you might find that a firmer mattress will help with chronic back pain.
- Work on your posture. It can be easy to hunch over when you are suffering from back pain, but walking with your back straight can actually help prevent discomfort. When you're sitting, make sure that you sit up straight, with your back against the chair.
- If you are overweight or obese, consider losing weight. Doing so can help put less of a strain on your body, including your injured back.
- As if you did not need another reason to quit smoking, you should know that smoking can cause chronic back pain and can make existing back pain that much worse. Discontinue tobacco use; if you have trouble doing so on your own, consider talking to your physician about various cessation options that might work for you, such as chewing gum that has nicotine or using a nicotine patch.
As you can see, there are various things that you can do to help with chronic back pain or a temporary back injury, without relying solely on pain medication. In fact, you might find that these options will help you get off of pain medication completely. If you need assistance with your back pain, contact us at Mueller Sports Medicing to find out how we can help you.