Lower back pain can be a debilitating condition, affecting the overall quality of life. It can be dull, sharp, or burning, ranging from mild to severe. Fortunately, there are many treatments available to help relieve this discomfort. Depending on the cause, individuals may attain lower back pain relief through therapeutic exercises, electrotherapy, and medications. Nevertheless, it is vital to consult a healthcare professional to determine the best course of action.
There are many causes of lower back pain. It may occur due to muscle overuse from working all day, an underlying condition, or normal wear and tear of the joints. Some can get better on their own, while others need treatments or intervention. Thus, knowing the options aid individuals in improving their conditions. This article will present the top pain relief methods that people can easily do, including physical activities, therapy, electrical stimulation, and painkillers.
Physical Activity for Lower Back Pain Relief
Physical therapy activity can be an effective way to alleviate lower back pain. It is suitable for pain due to poor posture, muscle strain, or weak core muscles. When done correctly, exercise can help strengthen the abdominal and lower back muscles, providing support to the spine. It can also help improve flexibility and the range of motion.
These activities can range from low-impact aerobic exercises, such as walking, swimming, and biking. These can help improve cardiovascular health and increase blood flow to the muscles, reducing inflammation. Additionally, they are gentle on the joints and can easily be modified to accommodate individual fitness levels and abilities.
Core-strengthening exercises are also beneficial for lower back pain relief. It focuses on the abdominal, back, and pelvic floor muscles to support the spine better. Strengthening these muscles can help improve posture and stability, reducing the risk of injury and pain. Lastly, stretching exercises can help improve the flexibility of the muscles and ligaments in the back. It helps to reduce tension and promote relaxation.
Stretches for Relief
- Child’s Pose – Kneel on the floor and sit back on the heels. Slowly lower the upper body forward, reaching the arms out in front. Hold for 20-30 seconds.
- Cat-cow Stretch – Start on all fours with the hands directly under the shoulders and knees under the hips. Arch the back upwards, then slowly lower it while lifting the head and tailbone.
- Piriformis Stretch: Lie on the back with both knees bent. Cross one ankle over the opposite knee and gently pull the uncrossed leg towards the chest.
- Standing Hamstring Stretch: Stand with the feet hip-width apart. Extend one leg forward and bend forward at the hips.
Electrotherapy for Lower Back Pain Relief
Electrotherapy is another method of lower back pain relief by stimulating the nerves and muscles. It works by sending small electric currents from a device or electrodes placed on the target area. This helps to reduce pain and improve function. It is common in pain clinics and physical therapy centres; however, individuals can purchase a portable device to use at home.
There are several types of electrotherapy, each with a specific purpose. One common type is Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS). It targets the nerve endings to block pain signals, providing temporary relief from acute and chronic pain. Another type is Interferential Current Therapy (IFC). It uses high pulse rates to penetrate deeper tissues. It helps individuals recover faster from surgery or injury.
Moreover, the Electrical Muscle Stimulation (EMS) is a therapy that works on key muscle groups. It uses strong currents to stimulate the contraction of the muscles. This helps to strengthen weakened muscles and alleviate painful spasms and muscle tension. Many people combine EMS with regular exercise to maximise their benefits.
A Closer Look at TENS Therapy
TENS therapy uses low-voltage electrical currents to stimulate the nerves. It helps reduce pain by blocking the transmission of pain signals in the spinal cord to the brain. This mechanism is known as pain gating. Another method in which TENS can help is by stimulating the production of endorphins, the natural painkillers of the body.
To use the TENS machine, place the electrode pads on the lower back area. Then, turn on the unit and adjust the settings. Users can adjust the frequency and intensity according to their comfort level. The intensity should not be too high as it may cause skin irritation.
Prescription Medications for Lower Back Pain Relief
Analgesics are one of the common treatment approaches for lower back pain relief. Over-the-counter pain relievers can help ease mild aches. However, for more severe pain symptoms, a health professional may prescribe strong medications. This often includes Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs), muscle relaxants, and opioid medications.
NSAIDs help reduce inflammation of the affected area. They block enzymes that produce prostaglandins, the hormone-like substance that contributes to swelling. Other prescription medications are muscle relaxants. They are a central nervous system depressant and prevent nerve cells from sending pain messages. Furthermore, they work by reducing muscle spasms and promoting relaxation. Both NSAIDs and muscle relaxants are advised for short-term relief of severe pain.
Lastly, a doctor may prescribe opioids for back pain conditions that do not respond to other treatments. They work by binding to proteins or opioid receptors in the brain and blocking pain signals. Due to its potency, healthcare professionals are cautious when prescribing opioids. With a proper treatment plan, prescription medicines are helpful in managing severe lower back pain.
The use of prescription medicines comes with potential risks and side effects. One of the common side effects is the potential for addiction and abuse. This can result in individuals needing higher doses to achieve the same level of pain relief. Thus, it can lead to a hazardous cycle of dependency.
The long-term use of NSAIDs can have adverse effects on the gastrointestinal system. It can cause an increased risk of stomach irritation, gastrointestinal bleeding, and ulcers. Lastly, they may lead to liver damage and heart problems. Thus, it is essential to discuss any potential risk with a healthcare professional.
Lower back pain can be uncomfortable and disruptive to daily activities. It is advisable for individuals who have underlying health conditions to take measures to prevent making the pain worse. Various approaches are available to achieve lower back pain relief. This includes physical activities or therapy, electrical stimulation, and medications. These methods can be done at home or with the help of a healthcare professional. Nevertheless, it is vital to follow the correct guidelines for an effective treatment.
Exercise and TENS therapy are ideal for people who want to relieve their pain naturally. They are safe and have zero to little side effects. They are also suitable for mild to moderate pain conditions. On the other hand, severe pain that does not improve with home remedies may require medical intervention. It is crucial for individuals to consult a doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment.