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Did you know that I worked in a spine center in my “former life?” I always jokingly refer to the time before I gave birth to my triplet boys as my “former life,” but in actuality I learned many things during my medical career that have been useful during my “current life.” I was an xray techologist at a spine center, but with our small department I worked closely with the doctors, medical assistants, and the patients. For over a decade I worked five days a week with adults and teens impacted by back pain. Some back pain patients suffered immensely and required surgery. However, the doctors and physician assistants with whom I worked always only recommended surgery as a last resort. First line offenses were things that the patients could do every day to help alleviate their pain, reduce inflammation, and restore their daily functionality.
Now that my husband and I are nearly the big 4-0, we are finding that our backs are not as strong as they were when we were younger. From incorrect lifting techniques during work in our twenties to (me) carrying three babies at once, daily back aches and pains are now the norm for us. I find myself following these 5 tips that I learned during my medical career for dealing with daily back pain on a constant basis!
Disclaimer: These tips do not take the place of medical advice from a physician. Remember to consult your physician before beginning any new regimen. I am not a physician, but a health care worker with experience in spine care.
#1 Heat or Ice?
I’ve found that this is one of the most commonly asked questions by those attempting to alleviate back pain at home. Does heat or ice help the most?
For acute injuries, applying ice during those first 24 hours may be beneficial to reduce swelling, but for chronic daily pain not caused by injury, heat may help to loosen up the muscles of the back and reduce inflammation. Heat is my go-to for minimizing daily back pain.
If you have ever tried to keep a heating pad in place, then you know how difficult this task can be. I do not have time to hold the heating pad in place or constantly re-adjust to make sure it is in the correct place to bring optimal relief. The Sunbeam® Renue® Contoured Back Heating Pad is a convenient solution to this problem. This is always my first choice to relieve tension and increase back tissue blood flow after a long day sitting in an office chair.
The Sunbeam® Renue® Heating Pad reduces muscle tension and stress by providing target heat to the back right where I need it. The Sunbeam® Renue® Heating Pad is shaped to fit well on the back, and the waist strap secures the Sunbeam® Renue® Heating Pad to make it hands free. No more adjusting a heating pad! An additional extender waist (stretches up to 85 inches) is included, and it is easy to attach to the existing Sunbeam® Renue® Heating Pad. The Sunbeam® Renue® Heating Pad provides more effective relief.
The pad is made from a soft, micromink fabric that is machine washable. My favorite features of the Sunbeam® Renue® Heating Pad are the 4 levels of heat (from low to high-heat) and the two hour automatic shut-off.
Find the Sunbeam® Renue® Heating Pad at a local Walmart or Walmart.com.
Massages are a wonderful way to work out back aches and pains. My brother-in-law, a pest control business owner who carries a large tank on his back every day, swears by massages for managing the back pain from that comes from the daily stress on his back muscles. If choosing a massage, discuss your specific back issues and pains with the massage therapist. The therapist can then tailor the massage to best alleviate those issues. I have had the best results reducing back pain with massage when visiting a MedSpa that specializes in this type of treatment.
#3 Rest Properly
For daily back pain, long periods of rest and staying in the bed can actually make the muscles more stiff. Instead, focus on resting properly.
- Try to get your recommended 8 hours a night.
- Utilize sleeping positions and pillows/bolsters to reduce strain on the back. For instance, side sleepers may find it beneficial to place a wedge pillow between the knees. Back sleepers may consider a pillow or bolster under the knees.
- How old is the mattress? For chronic back pain, an old mattress will not necessarily be the cause of the back pain, but it will definitely not help alleviate it! If the mattress is over the recommended age before replacing, it is time to head to the store to pick out a new one.
#4 Avoid Lifting Heavy Objects
While maintaining regular movement is key, lifting heavy objects is not! Lifting heavy objects (especially solo) is one guaranteed way to re-ignite a flame of back pain.
#5 Reduce Inflammation
The discussion of inflammatories is broad, but it encompasses two categories: a) items to avoid that cause inflammation and b) medications that help reduce inflammation. Both of these categories are ones that should be discussed with a physician. Know that there are certain foods and habits (such as smoking) that can cause inflammation throughout the body. This contributes to chronic back pain and increases inflammation. There are also medications that a physician may choose to recommend on a short-term basis to help reduce inflammation. Again, if you are a sufferer of daily back pain, discuss both of these with your physician to see what may be right for you to cut out of or add into your daily routine.