Four out of five Americans experience an episode of back pain at some point. Pain and stiffness can make daily activities challenging, but they are not necessarily signs of a serious spine problem that needs medical attention.
How to treat back pain yourself
Most people who experience discomfort can treat back pain themselves with a few simple steps. Using these methods, 95 percent of people get better within three months without medical treatment. Effective self-care methods include:
- Modified rest: Inactivity for an extended period of time is not a good idea, and may even make it more difficult to recover.
- Appropriate gentle exercise: Stay active, but choose exercise that does not make your symptoms worse.
- Medication: Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs can reduce swelling and provide temporary pain relief. Studies suggest that Ibuprofen provides better relief from inflammation-related back and neck pain than other pain medications do.
- Ice and heat: If pain flares up right after activity, use an ice pack to reduce swelling. If achy soreness persists over time, or if you wake up with sore muscles, apply a heating pad to help ease muscle tightness.
- Massage: Massage therapy has been shown to reduce the need for painkillers by providing temporary relief of chronic low back pain. Massage can reduce stress, pain, and muscle tension.
- Maintain a healthy weight:Extra weight puts increased stress on the structures of the spine. You can set your own weight-loss goals or get nutrition guidance from Summit’s wellness dietitian.
- Walking:Walking delivers excellent health benefits, among them a better-conditioned spine. Regular walking can also ease episodes of back pain by stimulating the large nerves in the leg muscles. Studies have shown that a single session of walking—as little as 10 minutes on a treadmill—can lead to a significant reduction in low back pain.
Exercise programs at Summit
At Summit, we understand the power of prevention. We know that anyone who has experienced an episode of low back pain is 76 percent more likely to have a second episode. However, with core exercises, we can reduce the risk of back pain recurrence to less than 30 percent. Our simple weekly exercise programs are designed to prevent a single episode of pain from becoming a recurring medical problem.
Learn more about Summit’s weekly exercise programs.
If your pain does not improve over time, or is accompanied by other symptoms that concern you, our spine team is here to evaluate you, develop a treatment plan tailored to your symptoms, and get you back on the road to recovery.
The following resources may be helpful as you treat your back or spine pain:
Summit Orthopedics offers comprehensive spine expertise
Summit’s spine care team is recognized by the National Committee for Quality Assurance for the comprehensive expertise of our patient-centered care. Our back specialists diagnose spine problems and design custom treatment plans built on a conservative, nonsurgical approach. Most patients find relief through treatments including guided injections, specialized physical therapy, biofeedback, exercise, activity modification, and medication. When conservative care does not relieve symptoms, our highly skilled surgeons offer proven, evidence-based surgical options. Together with you, we will determine the right course of action.
Summit has convenient locations across the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area, serving Minnesota and western Wisconsin. We have state-of-the-art centers for comprehensive orthopedic care in Eagan, MN, Vadnais Heights, MN, and Woodbury, MN, as well as additional community clinics throughout the metro and southern Minnesota.
More resources for you
Exercise is one of the best preventative measures we can take to maintain good health. Generally, exercise increases physical strength and improves longevity. Specific exercises can also address and improve many types of spine pain.
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