Lower Back Pain - Treatment and Relief
Last Updated on Friday, 05 August 2011 09:18
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Lower Back Pain Treatment and Relief
Most cases of back pain will improve on their own within a few days or weeks. Staying as active as possible will help relieve symptoms even if you are in a lot of pain.
Treating acute lower back pain
This stands a good chance of improvement within a few days to weeks, if the following treatments are adopted:
Continuing with your day-to-day activities, wherever possible.
Treatment with over-the-counter (OTC) painkillers and anti-inflammatory medicines in consultation with your GP. These provide relief to patients with mild to moderate pain.
Short-term treatment with a muscle relaxant.
Limiting bed rest to the minimum, since complete rest does not aid recovery.
Muscle strengthening exercises and improving the posture through activities such as stretching exercises, swimming, and walking. Yoga, too, can gently stretch muscles and facilitate pain relief. The mild discomfort that you will experience when you begin these exercises usually disappears as muscle strength improves.
Applying cold compresses (for example, a bag of frozen peas wrapped in a tea towel) to reduce the initial inflammation. This should be followed by local heat application (you can use a heat pad, a hot water bottle, or take a hot shower) after a few days to help ease muscular pain and rpovide relief.
Treating chronic lower back pain
Consult your GP if you have had longstanding symptoms. Treatment for chronic lower back pain may last from a few weeks to several months, and usually requires a multi-pronged approach.
Medications usually prescribed include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), antidepressants and anticonvulsants, and opioids in the case of some patients.
Regular exercise stretches and strengthens your back and aids in pain relief. Walking, swimming, or cycling on a stationary bike is recommended, as these activities place minimum stress on the spine, while improving muscle tone and strength. Therapy must be tailored to meet individual requirements and must be stepped up gradually.
Pain pathways can be blocked or numbed in several ways to achieve pain relief. This is achieved by means of epidural steroids, nerve blocks, and analgesic pump devices.
Complementary therapy includes various methods that are believed to prompt the release of pain-relieving substances in the body. Generally used together with analgesics, these include acupuncture, spinal manipulation, massage, and chiropractics.
Depressive illness is more commonly observed in patients with chronic back pain problems than in those with pain of recent onset. Such individuals need to be counselled and treated accordingly.
This is rarely required and may be indicated in conditions like herniated discs and spinal stenosis.