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Back pain is one of the most common complaints a doctor receives from clients. Treatments that doctors recommend depend on the cause of pain, its severity, and duration, and in many cases, rest and pain relievers are enough to alleviate discomfort. Exercise and relaxation techniques can also be used, but in some cases, the condition is so extreme that surgery is the best option.

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Movement or Bed Rest?

It was once believed that resting in bed was the quickest, safest way to get pain relief. For some that holds true, but many doctors today agree that pain relief comes more quickly to those who continue to move. It may be difficult to get around when experiencing strong pain, so it is important to start by walking around the house a little bit each day, per the doctor's instructions. Returning to daily activities has been shown to be a significant help in recovery.

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Painkillers

Painkillers can come in various forms, including over-the-counter acetaminophen and ibuprofen or prescription strength NSAIDS and opioids. Doctors have the expertise and knowledge to prescribe the right treatment, based on the degree of pain and the underlying cause. Before starting any medication therapy, make sure to disclose other medications you are taking to avoid adverse interactions.

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Baths and Ice Packs

Sometimes, heat relieves back pain. Relaxing in a hot bath, perhaps with bath salts, can relieve tension that could contribute to the pain. Some people also treat pain with ice packs. Don't apply ice directly to your back, since it can burn your skin; instead, wrap it in a cloth as a buffer. If you don't have regular ice packs, using a pack of frozen vegetables on your back is just as effective.

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Change in Posture

Bad posture has been known to be a contributor to back pain and can delay the healing process. Office workers who sit for long periods of time and find themselves slouching over keyboards are encouraged to do exercises that strengthen their abdomen and back muscles, which helps to influence and maintain good posture. Sleeping habits are also important to back health. Those who sleep lying on their side should draw their knees up towards the chest, also known as the fetal position, and putting a pillow between the legs can help with tight hips. Individuals who sleep on their backs should put a pillow under their knees to alleviate pressure from the lower back.

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Lifestyle Changes

Obese individuals are more likely to experience lower back pain due to poor posture and substantial stress on the back, spine, and pelvis. Reducing weight improves general health and helps to speed up healing. Avoid lengthy spans of sitting by getting up and moving, whether it's doing squats or stretches at an office desk or taking children or a dog for a walk around the block. Every little bit is effective. Being regularly active and keeping processed food to a minimum helps reduce weight and keep it down.

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Physical Therapy

Those with back pain issues can benefit from physical therapy. Therapists devise exercise plans to improve flexibility and strengthen the spine. Massages help ease pain, which can increase mobility. Exercise classes led by qualified instructors, such as yoga, can also help improve posture by strengthening the back and abdominal muscles.

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Acupuncture

Some research supports the medical value of acupuncture for back pain. Fine needles inserted into trigger points are used to stimulate the release of endorphins from the nervous system. These feel-good chemicals are known to be natural pain relievers as well as mood boosters.

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Surgery

Surgery is a last resort for those with chronic back pain, and the type of surgery required depends on the nature of the pain. One common surgery performed is called a discectomy. The surgeon removes part of a disc that is pressing against a nerve in the back, which can bring immediate pain relief. In a spinal fusion, the surgeon connects several vertebrae with the use of rods to strengthen the back, reduce pain, and restore stability to the spine. All back surgeries carry the risk of serious complications.

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Quitting Smoking

There are many excellent reasons to give up smoking without adding reduced back pain to the list. However, there does appear to be a real connection. Reports show that smokers experience more back pain than nonsmokers because nicotine limits the flow of blood, oxygen, and nutrients to spinal discs, ligaments, and muscle, increasing the probability of deterioration.

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Relaxation Techniques

Relaxation techniques can make it easier to cope with back pain. Some find that deep breathing helps, while others prefer to follow various meditative practices, such as the Alexander Technique, which teaches exercises to promote mind-body awareness.

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Disclaimer

This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.