Back pain is a common ailment that can leave some sufferers bed-bound. It can be found anywhere along the spine, from the neck down to the hips. In most cases, it is not caused by anything serious.
Of course, this does not make the condition any less debilitating – especially if the pain lasts for longer than a few weeks or keeps returning. It is for this reason that those afflicted should take the necessary steps to lessen the extent of the pain or prevent the condition from reoccurring.
In this article, we delve into these preventative measures and help you determine which one would best suit you.
1. Regular exercise
While it may be difficult, staying active and continuing with your normal activities is essential. Where before doctors would encourage you to rest in bed, now it is believed that people who continue to take gentle exercise are more likely to recover quicker.
This is by no means easy. There will still be pain throughout your exercise and daily routine, but it should start to improve eventually – unless it is caused by something more serious, like a broken bone or infection. You can also use medication where possible to keep the pain to a manageable level.
You do not need to work hard at the gym to start seeing the benefits. Just by walking, swimming or even taking a yoga class, you can kick-start the recovery process and control your back pain. What is more, you may potentially lose excess weight too, alleviating some of the stress off your back and accelerating recovery.
If after 15 minutes of exercise you are still feeling pain, then you should attempt a different position. Toe touches, for example, put greater stress on the disks in your back and ligaments in your spine. This will only aggravate the pain and slow down recovery.
2. Manual therapy
You may have been recommended a chiropractor from a colleague, friend or family member. Yes, a chiropractor is considered an alternative form of medicine. However, it has still found some success in reducing the symptoms of back pain – provided it is complemented with regular exercise and stretches.
Through the massaging of muscles, bones and joints in and around your spine, practitioners are able to relieve some of the soreness in your back. Yet it is important to remember that chiropractors have not been proven to help with more serious conditions.
The same is true of osteopaths, who while helping patients relieve muscle tension, cannot guarantee a long-term solution to recurring back pain. Osteopathy is much more commonly touted as a solution to help with conditions affecting the muscles, bones and joints, such as sports injuries.
Sadly, both of these solutions can be expensive, and are not widely accessible to Americans without healthcare support.
For those afflicted with back pain but unable to afford therapeutic treatments, medication can also ease the symptoms. Over-the-counter, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are proven to help provide comfort. They do not require a prescription and can be bought online.
Of course, they are not suitable for everyone. As with any medication, it is always worth contacting your doctor before starting a course. They are best placed to recommend the most relevant – and effective – alternative.
One such alternative might be codeine, which is a stronger painkiller that can help ease the symptoms. It is typically prescribed when everyday drugs have not been shown to work.
Codeine stops pain signals from traveling along the nerves to the brain and it can potentially make you feel drowsy. This is often addictive, but doctors will usually review your treatment and be able to recognize any signs of addiction before they manifest into more malevolent behaviors. Consequently, it is not available without a prescription.
4. Psychological support
If you find that medication has not worked, and the pain is still relentless, your doctor may recommend psychotherapy. After all, back pain does not just make it difficult to move, but also to be motivated. The familiarity of the pain and the sense of constant soreness can make sufferers irritable and largely unhappy.
This is completely understandable. However, for family members and friends, it can make living close quarters difficult. That is where psychological support comes in. It can help provide an outlet for those blinded by pain.
Therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can help you manage your pain better by changing how you think about the condition. In fact, by talking about your condition and how it makes you feel, you can physically relax your muscles and free yourself from constant tension.
CBT in particular looks for practical ways to improve your state of mind on a daily basis. You are shown how to change negative patterns to improve the way you feel.
For sciatica sufferers or individuals with slipped disks, psychological therapy is not going to make a difference. And for this reason, your doctor may recommend surgery to help alleviate the symptoms and regain your quality of life. This can be achieved in one of two ways: nerve treatment, or spinal fusion surgery.
In the case of nerve treatment, needles are inserted into the nerves that supply the affected joints. Radio waves are sent through the needles to heat the nerves, which stops them sending pain signals.
Spinal fusion surgery, on the other hand, is used to treat the bones in your back (vertebrae). It is designed to fuse two vertebrae together to strengthen them. This reduces related nerve pain as it stops the damaged vertebrae squeezing the nerves that pass through the spine.
Of the two, spinal fusion surgery has the more significant level of risk. Due to the scale of the operation, there is a possibility of partial paralysis in your legs, and permanent damage to some of the nerves in your back. This often makes it a last resort for many sufferers.
Get expert advice
Obviously, the source and solution to your back pain is entirely unique to you. In most cases, the pain will not be serious and by using a mixture of the above methods (aside from surgery), you should be able to live life to the full.
Where Medix can help is by offering guidance on which medication complements the method of treatment you have chosen. Our team has an extensive background in healthcare, and is able to deliver medicine for a fraction of the cost you would pay in a physical pharmacy.
Get the help you need by calling 1-866-500-6633 (toll-free phone number) or +44 1438 500111 (international phone number) today, or requesting a callback.