Back Pain Treatment
Hot and Cold Therapy:
Cold: Good for reducing the initial inflammation of acute back strain or sprain. The cold also distracts from the back pain. Wrap ice in a cloth and apply to area of back pain for 20 minutes every four hours. After 4 or 5 days, heat can be applied.
*If you have circulation problems or nerve damage do not use hot or cold therapies unless recommended by a physician.
Heat: Do not apply heat to an inflamed area. Soothing heat applied to the back increases blood circulation to the back, speeding healing and helping the muscles to relax. The heat is also a distraction from the back pain. Apply heat 20 minutes at a time. Heat can be in the form of hot water bottles, heating pads, or a hot shower or bath. Moist heat penetrates more deeply and more quickly than dry heat.
*Wait at least an hour between heat applications. Do not sleep on a heating pad to avoid overheating the tissues.
Deep Heating Rubs, e.g. Creams applied directly to the problem area stimulate blood flow to the area applied, creating surface heat. The heat is mainly a distraction from back pain. Do not use in conjunction with a heating pad or you may burn the skin.
Topical capsaicin cream:
Capsaicin is an extract from red chili peppers that reduces a substance in the nerve endings that transmit pain to the brain. The effects are cumulative and it can take 1 to 6 weeks of regular use to obtain the full effect. The benefits seem to add to the benefits of pain medications and/or anti-inflammatory medications.
Pain Medications: Tylenol, Aspirin, and Advil are common non-prescription pain medications used in treating acute or chronic back pain. Tylenol is an analgesic (relieves pain but not inflammation). Aspirin and Advil are anti-inflammatory medications that relieve both pain and inflammation.
If pain is severe, codeine preparations may be prescribed. A tolerance to codeine preparations can develop if they are used regularly, rendering them ineffective. With chronic back pain, codeine preparations should be saved for days where back pain is at its worst.
In cases of severe acute back pain, doctors may prescribe muscle relaxants. In an acute back injury muscle spasms initially protect the back from further injury by preventing movement. But muscle spasms also cause pain, reduce blood flow and delay healing. Muscle relaxants can cause drowsiness. This may be beneficial if they are taken at bedtime. Anti-inflammatory medications may be just as effective in relieving muscle spasms (inflammation triggers muscle spasms).
Drink plenty of water to help flush away acidic waste products from the muscles. High levels of acidic waste products (byproducts of muscular activity) in the muscles can cause muscle irritation and pain.
The muscles of the back and neck are commonly affected by stress. Stress alone can cause back pain. Not only does stress cause tensing of muscles which restricts blood flow (oxygen) to the tissues in the tensed area, but stress hormones are released that intensify the perception of pain. Stress can also intensify back pain for which there is a clear physical cause. By causing the back muscles to tighten up, stress also leaves the back vulnerable to injury.
A professional massage therapist can relieve back pain by manipulating the soft tissues (muscles and tendons) to help relax tense back muscles and increase blood circulation to flush out waste products from the back muscles, and accelerate healing. The majority of people who are treated by massage therapists are seeking back pain relief.
Though there are a variety of acupuncture techniques, a commonly used method involves inserting very fine needles into specific points in the body. Stimulating specific points of the body is believed to stimulate healing. Most studies have had positive results.
Chiropractors treat back pain by manipulating the spine to help restore normal range of motion in the spinal joints, taking stress off surrounding soft tissues (muscles, ligaments, fascia) and providing back pain relief.
Strained muscles tense up or even go into spasms. Calcium and Magnesium help relax the muscles and prevent muscle spasms. Calcium also helps clear lactic acid from the body.