Treating chronic back pain mainly involves identification of the exact cause to treat it accordingly. This HealthHearty article identifies the causes, and provides a few treatment options for this painful condition.
Back pain is quite a common problem these days, with people of all age groups getting affected by it. It is mainly categorized into two different types: acute and chronic. Acute back pain starts all of a sudden and subsides after some time, however, chronic back pain is more annoying as it continues to bother for several weeks or months. In general, pain that persists for more than 8 weeks is considered chronic.
Pain can occur in many different places of the back, like the upper, lower, or middle back. Among these, chronic lower back pain is more common as regular wear and tear is maximum in this area. The back muscles are susceptible to various forms of injury. They may get strained due to many factors, like incorrect posture while standing, sitting, or sleeping, excessive body weight, repetitive bending, or lifting of heavy objects. A slipped disc is another condition responsible for back pain. This happens when the cartilage disc of the vertebrae wears out and presses a nerve root. If the sciatic nerve root, located at the lower spine region, gets pressed, then it leads to chronic lower back pain, accompanied by numbness, that often extends to the legs. Elderly people suffer from chronic back pain mostly due to osteoarthritis affecting the spine. Stress and anxiety can also trigger chronic back pain. Under the influence of stress, the back muscles contract and the normal flow of blood to the area is affected. This condition leads to a constant pain in the back.
A doctor will conduct a physical examination and a few laboratory tests such as X-rays and MRI scans to understand the problem. Your lifestyle and medical history are also taken into account for a correct diagnosis. Depending on the severity of the condition, one or more of the following options are suggested:
Initially, oral non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines for controlling the back pain are prescribed. If such medicines do not work, or if the pain is too intense, cortisone injections are administered directly at the site of pain. However, this only provides temporary relief. If the patient is suffering from excruciating pain, then narcotic pain relieving medicines and muscle relaxants are also given short-term.
Physical therapy is highly recommended for treatment. Physical therapists advise changes in posture and modification of back movements in order to minimize stress on the back muscles. They also suggest exercises, that focus on core strengthening and stretching to relieve the back pain and at the same time make the back muscles strong and flexible.
Many times, it has been found that patients dealing with lower back pain for prolonged periods of time feel depressed as their body movements are badly affected. For them, learning of a relaxation technique like yoga or meditation is of great help along with pain treatment. In some people, back pain returns when they are under stress and anxiety. They are also advised to practice yoga, meditation, etc. Doctors may also prescribe antidepressants to such patients.
Surgery for back pain is quite rare. Doctors first try to treat the condition with conservative methods of treatment. In fact, most cases of chronic back pain resolve without surgery. However, if it does not, and the patient suffers from severe pain, then surgical options are availed as a last resort.
Along with the medicinal treatments mentioned above, you can try out a few home remedies to cure the problem.
Put a few ice cubes in a plastic bag and seal it. Cover it up with a thin cloth and place it over the painful site for about 15-20 minutes. Repeat this several times a day for soothing relief from back pain.
When the pain is extreme, soak your body in a tub of warm water for some relief. Let your back get the heat for half an hour every day. This will help to bring down both pain and inflammation.
A back massage with oil is really helpful for the pain, as the pressure exerted eases off the tension from the muscles and give them scope to relax. Mint oil or eucalyptus oil can be used, as they have medicinal qualities to reduce pain. You need not visit a professional for this purpose. Even a member of your family can do it.
You can use garlic both internally as well as externally. Eat fresh garlic cloves in the morning; its anti-inflammatory properties work wonders on back pain. Prepare garlic oil by frying around 15 cloves of garlic in 60 ml of sesame oil. Cool and apply on the back for relief from pain.
You can even take lemon juice for relief from pain in the lower back. Take about one tablespoon of fresh lemon juice in a bowl and mix a little salt to it. Consume this mixture two times in a day for fast relief.
When you are undergoing treatment, try to prevent any further aggravation of the pain. Avoid any such movements or activities that worsen the pain. Relax your back muscles by resting them properly with good sleep at night to ensure faster healing. Most importantly, use a good mattress which is not too soft.