3 Easy Ways To Start Managing Your Pain
Dealing with back pain can be extremely uncomfortable and inconvenient. Tons of people turn to prescription medication to manage their pain, but with opioid dependence on the rise, many of them are looking for a better option. According to a study in the BMC Health Services medical journal, physical therapy can decrease dependency on pain medication while also reducing the out-of-pocket costs for patients.
Your physical therapist can provide simple strategies and exercises to help relieve your back pain during your appointments. Below are three techniques that can dramatically decrease your discomfort from back pain, and the best part is that you can even do them at home!
1. Work Your Hamstrings
A physical therapy session can get you on the right track to targeting specific hamstring muscles. When the backs of your upper thighs become too tight, your lower back has to do lots of hard work to compensate.
Your hamstring muscles are a deciding factor in whether or not your lower back joints become over-stressed. Stretching your hamstrings helps lengthen and loosen those muscles. It also may soothe your lower back — especially if you experience spasms.
At home, try bending over to reach down to your toes two times a day. Don’t strain as you reach down, and try not to let your knees lock up either. If you feel any pain, stop the exercise and talk to your physical therapist about alternative ways to lengthen your hamstrings. You don’t want to put any unnecessary stress or strain on your hammies, but this is a great way to stretch if you are able.
2. Be Active, But Take It Easy!
Sometimes taking it easy and resting up is the best way to relieve lower back pain. This is especially true if your pain stems from an injury or a re-injury to a specific spot. Resting and applying ice to the affected area is a good way to reduce swelling at home.
When it comes to chronic lower back pain though, getting up and moving around is much better and more effective at relieving pain than resting or lying around all day. Physical activity releases endorphins, which have natural pain-killing properties. They also improve your mood, which is an added bonus!
It’s important to work out and have a daily exercise routine, but make sure you don’t overdo it before consulting with a licensed physical therapist. Taking a walk every day is an easy way to make sure you’re staying limber and releasing those natural endorphins. Wearing a back brace can also be helpful, as it will support your lower back as you move around.
Physical therapy is a wonderful option as it delivers exercise benefits in a safe way – under the care of a professional. Your physical therapist will monitor your activity and make sure you’re aware of particular movements that might result in injury. They can also help you with flexibility and teach you exercises and stretches to help build up the muscles around your spine, which will in turn increase strength in your lower back. Having a greater range of motion will decrease the amount of stiffness you feel as well!
3. For Once, It’s O.K. To Go To Extremes
Alternating hot and cold packs on the lower back is a common option for relieving back pain, however, you don’t need to alternate if you prefer one temperature over the other! Using both hot and cold packs is not a must, but switching between the two extremes can provide a fuller range of benefits with relieving back pain.
There are many benefits to heated compresses. Hot compresses ease pain by blocking the “signals” that come from the nerves in your lower back toward your brain. Heat also increases circulation. This extra blood flow helps facilitate the healing properties found in your bloodstream. Cold compresses and packs come to the rescue with their ability to halt spasms, numb pain, and reduce swelling in the affected areas. Some people prefer one temperature over the other.
During physical therapy, your therapist will most likely apply one or both of these packs to the affected areas. It’s a good idea to ask your physical therapist about what kind of compress would be the best option for your at-home treatment. Both heating pads and ice packs are inexpensive and accessible options.
Call Our Office To Get Started
If you aren’t sure where to start with treatment of your lower back pain, have no fear! You don’t have to continue struggling with your pain. Contact Northstar PT to arrange an evaluation with one of our licensed physical therapists. During your appointment, your therapist will teach you how to make simple and natural lifestyle changes that can decrease your back pain.