Your Aching Back
When your back is healthy, you hardly ever notice it. But at the first twinge of pain, you realize just how important your spine is to carrying out everyday activities.
Pain, Pain Go Away
Back pain may cause you to make a beeline for your bed. But staying horizontal may actually make your pain worse. Instead, moving around alleviates pain and its sidekick, stiffness.
The first step to treating back pain is to identify which type it is: acute or chronic. If you did something that triggered the pain, like lifting a heavy suitcase, your pain is acute—meaning that it will probably clear up within six weeks. In the meantime, taking aspirin, acetaminophen, or ibuprofen can help.
If your pain is chronic, lingering for more than three months, you may want to try some of these treatment options:
- Hot and cold packs. Heat dilates the blood vessels, increasing the supply of oxygen to the painful region, which can reduce muscle spasms. Cold may reduce inflammation and help numb pain. Try both.
- Exercise. Exercise can help relieve chronic pain and may reduce the likelihood it returns. Try yoga, which can help improve your posture and stretch and strengthen muscles.
- Physical therapy. This may include several types of treatment, such as massage, stretching, electrical stimulation, special exercises, and more.
When to See Your Physician
Since back pain usually resolves on its own, you may not need to see a doctor. However, if your pain is unbearable or you have numbness, tingling, weakness in your legs, fever, or unintentional weight loss, make an appointment with your primary care physician. He or she can treat the problem or refer you to a specialist.
Back in Action
Learn more here about the expert care we provide for a variety of back and spine ailments: