If you suffer from back pain, please know you are not alone. Back pain, especially lower back pain, is very common. In fact, in 2017-18, about four million or 16% of the population suffered from it, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. ABS goes on to say that about 70 to 90% of people could have back problems at some point in their life. It’s one of the reasons why many individuals miss work or visit their doctors. And although back pain often goes away on its own, it is considered the leading cause of disability across the globe.
Fortunately, there are measures that you can take to relieve your back pain, prevent it from getting worse, and reduce the risk of a doctor’s visit in the future.
But first, let’s talk about what can cause back pain.
What are the Key Causes of Lower Back Pain?
Lower back pain can be a result of many things, including a strain or injury to the tendons or muscles located in the back. For other people, it may be a result of arthritis, disc problems, and body structure. Different conditions, diseases, and injuries can lead to back pain, which can go from mild to severe – even debilitating.
As mentioned above, back pain is a common issue. It’s one of the reasons why people go to their healthcare providers to seek treatment. Some individuals, however, are more likely to have back pain than others because of certain risk factors, including:
- Age: Ageing is inevitable, and your lifestyle has a habit of catching up to you if you have not cared for your back and spine for many years. If you are over 30, your risk of experiencing more back pain than your younger counterparts increases. If not well looked after, your discs (the soft tissue that protects the bones in your spine) can wear away and weaken as you age, resulting in stiffness and pain.
- Weight: If you’re overweight or obese, you’re likely to suffer from back pain due to the excess weight putting more pressure on your discs and joints.
- Lifestyle: Leading a sedentary lifestyle does not do you any favours and it may get worse if you love smoking and drinking alcohol to excess. Your job and daily activities, such as bending and heavy lifting, over time, can all affect your back.
- Weak Abdominal Muscles: People with a weak core typically have back pain problems. That’s because their weak abdominal muscles cannot provide the spine with the support it requires, which then results in back sprain and strain.
- Structural Problems and Disease: If you have scoliosis and other similar conditions, your spine alignment may change, causing back pain.
- Mental Health: Depression and anxiety are also risk factors that can lead to back pain.
Back pain symptoms vary from person to person. You may experience it as a generally dull and ache or sharp pain that radiates down your legs. You may also feel stiffness and muscle spasm. Back pain may also prevent you from sitting or standing up straight.
5 Natural Remedies for Back Pain
For the most part, lower back pain gets better with the help of rest, physical therapy, chiropractic adjustments, and a few safe practices that you can perform at home.
It is so important to get your muscles moving. Most people experience frequent back problems because they simply do not move their bodies enough. Regular exercise is the key.
Just a short walk for about 10 to 15 minutes can make a huge difference to your back pain. Low impact activities, including yoga and water exercises, help loosen your muscles. They are also a proven way to release endorphins, a natural painkiller.
Whenever you feel better, you should try incorporating stretching and strength training, which can help strengthen your muscles and improve their flexibility.
2. Hot and Cold
Back pain relief can be achieved with something as simple as using ice packs and heating pads. Ice packs effectively reduce inflammation and numb the area, which is why they are used after an injury. Wrap an ice pack in a towel and apply it directly on your back for that numbing effect. Keep it on the spot for 15 to 20 minutes maximum. Repeat if necessary.
Alternatives for an ice pack include frozen vegetables and a bag of ice.
Meanwhile, if you prefer heat, you can use a heating pad instead. It’s perfect for relieving stiff muscles. Make sure that you read the instructions to avoid burning your skin. Test the temperature first, so you know it is not too hot for you.
If you do not have a heating pad specifically for this purpose, you can simply use a hot water bottle. Another good alternative is a cloth bag of uncooked rice, which you heat in the microwave. Once again, check the temperature before placing it on your skin, so you do not burn yourself.
3. Stretching Exercises
Stretching is safe for most people and also very easy to do. You should try to hold the stretch for 30 seconds or more if you can.
Here are some stretches that you can try:
- Bend forward and aim to touch your toes with your hands or just your fingertips. This exercise helps stretch your hamstrings whilst loosening the muscles in your lower back.
- Cobra Pose. The first step is to lie on your stomach with your palms down next to your shoulders. Then, slowly and gently lift your chest until the top of your head is pointing towards the ceiling.
- Child’s Pose. This pose not only stretches your back but your ankles, hips, and thighs, as well. It’s one of the best poses for relieving back pain naturally. Sit on your heels and try to spread your knees about as wide as your hips. Make sure that the tops of your feet remain on the floor, and your big toes are touching each other. Now, lean forward as you slowly place your head on the floor. Keep your arms stretched in front of your head.
Other yoga poses that you can try to help with your back pain are Cat-Cow, Downward-Facing Dog, Extended Triangle, and the Sphinx.
People with back pain find it difficult to sleep or stay asleep. It’s a vicious cycle that worsens back pain, which may already be something you frequently deal with. This is why aiming to sleep for as much as possible can help make you feel better. Resting allows for the tissues of the body to heal, recharging your energy so you can face the next day.
Lifestyle changes and certain medications can help you sleep better. To know what can help you get more ZZZs, you first have to figure out the cause of your insomnia. For example, if you often drink coffee, tea, or other caffeinated beverages, don’t have them too close to bedtime. Try moving your dinner to an earlier time, too. Sleeping when you’re still full can affect the quality of your sleep.
Sleeping on your stomach can also aggravate low back pain. Instead, sleep on your back or side, and avoid twisting your pelvis.
5. Stress Management
One of the reasons why you may not be able to sleep well is due to stress, which then contributes to spasms and tension in the back muscles. Try certain techniques, such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, and progressive muscle relaxation.
Natural back pain remedies are often effective for many people but don’t expect them to work instantly. If lower back pain persists, you most likely require the help of a professional. Seek a chiropractor’s advice and assistance. Call Open Space Healing and schedule a visit to help you find lasting relief for your lower back pain.