Dealing With an Aching Back: What to Do When Your Back Hurts?

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Trying to figure out what to do when your back hurts? Well, you’re in the right place.

Back pain is prevalent in a greater majority of people in some shape or form, especially lower back pain. However, the cause of this pain for each person varies and is often hard to identify.

In this article, we will cover what you can do after your back hurts, and some preventative measures to help mediate pain in the future.

So keep reading to learn more.

When Your Back Hurts – This Is Why

As mentioned earlier, the list of causes for back pain is tremendous, thus it can be hard to determine why it hurts without the assistance of a trained professional. And even then, it’s quite easy to mistake a symptom being a result of a certain condition, when in fact it’s something else completely.

In any case, when your back hurts, this is probably why:

  • Disc pain 
  • Degenerative Disc Disease
  • Facet joint pain
  • Pinched nerve
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Muscle or ligament strain (most common)
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Fibromyalgia

However, most of these conditions are quite serious, so don’t take our word for it. A muscular or ligament strain is most common and can happen overnight because of terrible sleeping conditions.

Here are some things you should do when your back hurts.

Rest, But Not Too Long

First and foremost, you should provide some time for your back to rest. However, this does not mean that you are taking off weeks just to rest in bed. That’s the worst thing you can do when it comes to mobility. 

Resting for about two days after injury or after your first significant pain is sufficient. After this, you should increase your activity gradually. Moving and getting up as soon as sharp spasms subside will help ease the stiffness and pain.

Elemental Control

Using ice-cold or fiery-warm compresses to the area of back pain can help decrease inflammation and control swelling, thus easing discomfort. Heat is more beneficial than ice, but both are known to alleviate lower back pain in some form.

Heat dilates the blood vessel, which increases the oxygen supply to the back and reduces spasms. Cold decreases the size of blood vessels, thus decreasing the blood flow, which can help with inflammation. The cold approach is more painful, but it can help resolve deep pain.

You can use heat wraps, disposable heating pads, so on and so forth. For cold, just get a pack of frozen vegetables and place a cloth over it so you don’t freeze damage your skin.

OTC Pain Relief

In some cases, the pain is unbearable. Medications such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (Advil, Aleve) or acetaminophen (Tylenol) can greatly reduce the perceiving of pain.

However, one thing might come into play when deciding between acetaminophen and NSAIDs is the side-effect profile. NSAIDs come with potential kidney and gastrointestinal problems. Whereas, acetaminophen primarily affects the liver. However, you need to be taking large doses over a long time for any damage to occur.

Some topical solutions for back pain are salicylate, capsaicin, eucalyptus oil, menthol, camphor. Some brand name products that have these ingredients are Bengay, Zostrix, Icy Hot, Aspercreme.

Preventative Measures for Back Pain

And finally, instead of mitigating the pain at the level of symptomatic occurrence, we are going to take a look at preventative measures that will decrease the likelihood of pain in the future. 

So if you want to feel better in the long-term, these are the things you need to do.

Improve Your Sleep

Back pain can often make sleep unbearable. And because of this a vicious cycle occurs, because not getting enough sleep will only make your back pain worse.

Poor sleep positioning will always aggravate back pain. For instance, lying on your side might reduce the pain. You can try placing a pillow between your knees to keep the spine in a neutral position and relieve the strain.

If you need to sleep on your back for medical reasons, slide a pillow under the knees. But most importantly you need to know what is the best mattress for lower back and hip pain.

Posture Matters

Our spines are very adaptable, meaning the conditions you place it in will determine how it compensates and structures itself. Slouching is bad for you. Poor posture only exacerbates pre-existing back conditions, especially if you sit. 

So make sure not to slouch over your desk. Sit upright with the body relaxed but supported against an ergonomic chair. Place a pillow between your low back and seat to ensure contact.

Place your feet flat on the floor.

Physical Therapy

Employing the services of a physical therapist can help you move, stand, and sit in ways that will ensure that your spine is in proper alignment at all times. They will also teach you techniques and methods that will improve your core musculature which supports your back.

One of the greatest ways to prevent back pain in the future is a strong core. When you increase your endurance, flexibility, and strength – back pain decreases at great speed.

Massage Therapy

Not everybody believes that a massage can ease back pain. However, even one massage a week can significantly improve your pain, and increase function for those with chronic back pain.

The benefits will last as long as you get your massages, and they are compound in effect. Spinal manipulation is another option, but it should be performed by a licensed specialist, as it requires knowledge of human anatomy.

Stimulatory Nerve Treatment

There is adamant research supporting that stimulating the nerves via electric impulse can help loosen the muscles/ligaments, which leads to decreased chronic back pain.

A doctor might also consider acupuncture if you are not finding relief with traditional recovery methods. However, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulations are a promising solution for many. And in some cases, both are combined together.

Back to Health

Now that you know what to do when your back hurts, you are well on your way to ensure that you get the possible treatment in the now, and start to think about recovery in the future. 

As long as you take care of your back, it will take care of you. If you’re interested in similar health topics, go through our categorical filters at the top of the website.