by Asma Khan, MD, HRHCare Urgent Care, Nyack
For many of us, back pain is something that we’ve just learned to live with. However, there is relief in sight! While there may be no single cure for back pain, trying a few different methods at home will help find what works best for you.
What’s the cause?
According to the Mayo Clinic, approximately 80% of Americans suffer from back pain at least once in their lives, particularly in the lower back. Since the human back is composed of a complex structure of muscles, ligaments, tendons, disks, and bones, problems with any of these components can lead to back pain. The most common ways to strain your back include:
- Lifting something improperly, or lifting something that’s too heavy.
- An awkward, sudden movement.
- Sleeping on a mattress that doesn’t support you properly.
- Poor posture.
- Standing for too long.
- Ruptured or bulging disks.
- Sciatica, arthritis, osteoporosis, and other structural maladies.
Alleviating the pain at home
Alleviating back pain doesn’t have a one-size-fits-all solution. Trying these tips out at home should bring you some much-needed relief.
Release your inner endorphins!
Endorphins are hormones your body makes naturally that help block pain signals from registering with your brain. Try aerobic exercise, massage therapy, or meditation to get those endorphins flowing
Get enough restorative sleep.
Pain can lead to insomnia, and in turn inadequate sleep can make your back pain worse. Talk with your doctor about different options for treating sleep problems that accompany chronic back pain
Exercise and stretch.
The muscles in your abs and back play a critical role in supporting your lower spine. Try adding a few simple core exercises to your daily routine, such as crunches or sitting on an exercise ball, to engage your core. Stretching, especially your hamstrings, will also reduce stress on your back
Soothe the pain.
Applying a cold pack to your back can reduce inflammation and act as a local anesthetic to numb the pain. Additionally, heat therapy can stimulate blood flow and inhibit the pain messages being sent to the brain
Engage your brain.
The way your brain interprets pain signals plays a significant role in how you perceive pain. Remember to keep doing simple things you enjoy while treating your back pain to keep yourself in a positive frame of mind
Back pain: What you need to know
Your doctor should be able to diagnose back pain after carrying out a physical exam. If your doctor suspects that the pain is linked to an injury, he or she may want to run some tests to be sure of the underlying cause.
If you have serious, long-term back pain, your doctor may prescribe more aggressive treatment, or refer you to a spine specialist or physical therapist. If you are in a lot of pain, ask your doctor’s advice on what medication may be right for you.
Don’t let back pain get you down this holiday season! Give yourself the gift of finding the back care that works for you.
Asma Khan, MD, is the Clinical Director at HRHCare Urgent Care, 84 N Highland Ave between High Street and Sickles Ave in Nyack. Along with offices in Haverstraw and Spring Valley, the facility is part of the 28 health center HRHCare network in the Hudson Valley and Long Island providing comprehensive primary care.
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