Is chronic lower back pain making it hard to enjoy the activities you once loved? Back pain can make it difficult to perform even the easiest motions—like walking, sitting down, standing up, and climbing stairs—and you may find it almost impossible to go golfing, play tennis, and keep up with your children or grandchildren. For many people, back pain even makes it hard to get a good night’s sleep. Luckily, there are a number of things that you can do to relieve lower back pain at home:

  • Take pain medication. Various over-the-counter medications can help with lower back pain. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like Advil, Motrin, and aspirin can help relieve pain and reduce swelling. However, in certain cases they can cause stomach issues like nausea, diarrhea, stomach pain, and even ulcers. Tylenol also helps to relieve pain and is typically gentler on the stomach than NSAIDs, but it doesn’t do anything to reduce inflammation.
  • Apply ice and heat. If you’ve sustained an injury, you may be able to relieve your pain and reduce any swelling by applying an ice pack. However, you should only do that in the first three days after your injury—after that time, switch over to a warm compress or heating pad, which can help relax your muscles.
  • Do some stretches. There are a variety of stretches that can help relieve lower back pain, including the cat-cow stretch. To perform this stretch, get on your hands and knees, arch your back upward while dropping your head, and then curve your back downward while raising your head. Although it’s normal to feel a gentle pulling sensation, you should stop stretching if you start experiencing actual pain.

You may also want to consider making some lifestyle changes to help relieve the lower back pain you’re currently experiencing and avoid similar issues in the future. For starters, try to keep an eye on your posture throughout the day, and sit or stand up straighter whenever you feel yourself starting to slouch. You should also try to get as much sleep as possible so that your body can repair itself and your muscles can get the rest they need to support your spine.

If you happen to be overweight, you should consider eating a more nutritious diet and starting to exercise more, since excess weight can exert undue pressure on your spine. And if you smoke, you should try to stop as soon as possible. Scientists believe that smoking can cause lumbar spondylosis, which can in turn cause lower back pain, and that it can affect the portion of the brain that’s associated with pain. A doctor can provide you with the support you need to lose weight or quit smoking.

Still Experiencing Lower Back Pain?

If these techniques still aren’t providing you with the relief you need, you’ll want to consult with an orthopedist. Treatment will vary from one patient to another, but your doctor may be able to treat your pain with prescription medication or corticosteroid injections. And if those methods don’t provide sufficient relief, he or she can explore whether you may be a candidate for spine surgery.

Residents of Durham, North Carolina, and the surrounding area can turn to North Carolina Orthopaedic Clinic for help with lower back pain. We’ve been in business since 2003, and we’re proud to offer our patients a unique combination of specialized care and personalized service. Contact us today to schedule an appointment—we’re open on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.