When we find ourselves suffering a new type of long-lasting or chronic pain, we might be concerned that surgery is the only option. Fortunately, for certain types of low back pain, there are plenty of options that you can explore. Some of these are medicinal, some are rehabilitative, and others are more experimental. You should consult with a doctor for the best options. The following options may work for you if:
- You currently have low back pain
- Are 18 or older
- The back pain you have is not related to:
- High-speed injury, such as a car accident
- Pressure on nerve roots in the spine, or injury
- An infection, problems with the nervous system, cancer, a broken bone or certain arthritis
Heat and Massage
Heat is one of the ways you can treat low back pain at home with ease. Typically, you’ll put some kind of a heat pack – filled with gel or heating chemicals, or other electric pads – on the affected area. This can help reduce the pain and help you resume your normal daily activities. Massage – by a trained massage therapist – may also be used to help reduce low back pain and help you return to daily activities, but the research on this is minimal, compared to other methods.
You’ll be familiar with most of these, but typically NSAIDs like Ibuprofen and Naproxen and others can be used to reduce swelling, and these can help slightly with pain. More effective – but controlled and must be monitored – are muscle relaxers, which relax the muscles to reduce the pain from tension. Pain relievers like acetaminophen, though, do not typically help with acute and subacute low back pain. Discussing these with a doctor – as well as their potential side effects – is important before going the medicine route.
Rehabilitative and Exercise-Based Treatments
Multidisciplinary rehabilitation, which involves a combination of physical therapy and other physical treatments with psychosocial treatment such as speaking with a therapist has been shown to help with pain and resuming daily activities. Exercise may help a little with the pain, and may help you return to daily activities by increasing muscle strength and stretching them. You can also find some low back pain video exercises online, but it doesn’t hurt to consult with your physician, in case you aren’t sure if those exercises will work for you.
These should definitely be discussed with your current doctor, as effectiveness and safety are a concern. Acupuncture, which is the placing of thin needles into your skin by a trained therapist, seems to help reduce pain well, as does yoga, though the research on yoga’s effectiveness is minimal. The same goes for tai chi, which focuses on breathing, relaxation and certain bodily positions. Another alternative is progressive relaxation, which is the focused relaxation of certain muscles groups. This type of therapy seems to reduce low back pain as well, but like many of the alternative treatments, more research is needed to determine its overall effectiveness on low back pain.