Experts estimate that about 80% of the U.S. population will experience back pain at some point in their lives. While seeing a doctor is the best way to find out the cause of your back pain, there are some things you can do at home to help manage the pain.

Ice First, Heat Later

If you injure yourself or have persistent pain after an activity, ice is a good option. Ice is best for the first 24 to 48 hours after an injury because it reduces inflammation and slows down nerve impulses. Be sure to only ice for 20 minutes at a time.

Warmth might help relieve some of the pain, but it does not help the inflammation. In fact, direct heat can make the inflammation worse, which may lead to an increase in pain. After the inflammation goes down, heat can stimulate blood flow to the injured area to start the healing process.

Indirect heat like warm Epsom Salt baths can also help sore backs. The magnesium sulfate in the salts can make its way through the skin to the muscles to help relieve pain. Just make sure the water is between 92 and 100 degrees.

Rubs, Gels, Creams, Ointments, and Patches

There are many types of topical medications for back pain. Some ingredients to look for include:

  • Ketoprofen (Diractin)
  • Ibuprofen (Nurofen or Dolgit)
  • Diclofenac (Voltaren)
  • Lidocaine (Lidoderm)
  • Cayenne
  • Comfrey
  • Brazilian arnica

Some products contain capsaicin, the heat-producing substance in hot peppers. When rubbed on the skin, the capsaicin can help stop nerves from transmitting pain signals to the brain, thus reducing the pain.

When using these products, you should test them in a small area first to make sure the cream isn’t going to irritate your skin. Oral nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are also a good over-the-counter option for back pain, but should not be taken long term without talking to a doctor first.

Concentrate on Posture and Movement

The spine is designed to move, so make sure you’re not sitting still for too long. For those who sit at desks all day long, it’s important to get up throughout the day and stretch out your muscles. Otherwise, they’ll become stiff, and if you suffer from back pain, that could only make it worse.

When you are sitting, make sure your posture is good. If it isn’t, this could be a contributing factor to your back pain. A good chair can help with your posture by keeping your spine aligned.

Sleep Well

Our bodies need sleep to rejuvenate and restore itself. Try to avoid sleeping on your stomach since this puts pressure on the spine. If you choose to sleep on your back or side, use a pillow between or under your knees to keep the spine aligned.

During the day, try not to stay in bed for long periods of time. It’s better to keep moving so your muscles don’t stiffen up. If your back pain wakes you up a night, lasts longer than six weeks, gets worse, or comes with weakness, tingling, or numbness in the arms or legs, it’s time to see a doctor.

The professionals at Tampa’s B3 Medical can help diagnose the source of your back pain and help you find relief. Make an appointment today.