Almost everyone has low back pain at one time or another. It has become an occupational hazard in many different kinds of work (like sitting at a desk in front of a computer, lifting heavy loads etc). Low back pain is often caused by overuse, strain, or injury. Most sudden back pain is due to a sprain or a small tear in a muscle or ligament. Having a nagging ache in lower back or a sharp, localized pain and stiffness is due to a muscle spasm in the area. The usual causes of back pain and sciatica include lifting awkwardly or sudden twisting, but factors such as poor posture, pregnancy, and being inactive or unfit may make the back more vulnerable. Less often, low back pain is the result of arthritis, compression fractures caused by bone loss (osteoporosis), illness, or a spine problem that you may have had since you were born. Emotional factors can also lead to back pain. People who are depressed, under stress, or unhappy in their work are more likely to have chronic back pain. Most back pain can be effectively treated within 4 to 6 weeks of home treatment, but a ruptured or slipped disk often requires intensive medical care.
Back Pain Symptoms
- Muscle ache
- Pain and stiffness after sitting and on waking up
- Pain in the buttocks and legs
- Inability to stand up straight
- Weakness and fatigue
Home Remedies for Back Pain
- Cold/Hot pack: Apply a cold pack to the painful area for 15 to 20 minutes at a time initially. Apply at least three times a day. If you apply heat to fresh injury, it become worst. Once the worst is over, switch to heat. Roughly, Ice is for injuries and heat is for muscles. Ice calms down damaged superficial tissues that are inflamed, red, hot and swollen due to injuries. Ice packs or heating pads, use whatever feels best to you.
- Ginger: Apply a paste made of ginger powder mixed with sufficient water to the affected area. Leave it on for 10 to 15 minutes, wash it off, and then rub the back with some eucalyptus oil.
- Garlic oil: Rubbing the painful area of the back with garlic oil is also effective for relieving the pain. The oil is prepared by frying 10 cloves of garlic in 60 ml of mustard oil or sesame oil on a slow fire till the garlic turn brown. Then, the cooled oil should be applied vigorously on the back, and allowed to remain there for 2 or 3 hours. Take a warm bath afterwards. It should be done for at least 15 days. Garlic contains strong anti-inflammatory properties that diminish pain as well as swelling.
- Lemon: Take the juice of one lemon mixed with little common salt twice a day. Vitamin C repair and strengthen connective tissue.
- Potato: Application of raw potato in the form of a poultice is very effective, especially in a low backache.
- Cinnamon & Ginger: Boil 20gm of cinnamon stick with 30 gm of fresh ginger in 2 cups water until only half of the liquid is left. Drink 1 cup three times a day. Cinnamon has high antioxidant activities and believed to be effective in treating arthritis and low back pain.
- Arnica: Apply topical arnica to the affected area in gel or lotion form. Arnica acts as anti-inflammatory and circulatory stimulant with mild analgesic properties.
- Massage: Massage your back with mustard oil an hour prior to going for a shower. Make sure you take a hot water shower. Massage may help if back pain is caused by tense or overworked muscles.
- Hydrotherapy: Hot water treatments can alleviate pain. Let the hot water hit you in the affected area for 10-15 minutes. Also, you can try using hot water bottle for the same purpose.
- Essential oil: Add 2-3 drops of peppermint essential oil with 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil and apply it to the affected area. It alleviate muscle spasm and strain, while soothing the senses and relieving pain.
Do’s for Back Pain
- If you are overweight, lose weight.
- Wear comfortable, low-heeled shoes/sandals.
- Make sure your work surface is at a comfortable height for you.
- Use a chair with a good lower back support. If you are sitting for a long period of time, try resting your feet on the floor, or on a low stool. Take frequent breaks to stretch.
- If you have to drive long distances, try using a pillow or rolled-up towel behind the small of your back. Also, be sure to stop often and walk around for a few minutes.
- If you have trouble sleeping, try sleeping on your back with a pillow under your knees, or sleep on your side with your knees bent and a pillow between your knees.
- Sit quietly and meditate, or observe your breathing. This will help to relax tense muscles.
- Get regular, low-impact exercise. Some gentle yoga exercises can help to relieve the pain. Stretching exercises can improve flexibility and improve physical function.
- Practice safe ways of lifting and moving heavy objects to reduce the risk of straining your back. While lifting, bend your knees and keep your back straight, keep the object you are lifting close to your belly button, and avoid lifting and twisting at the same time.
- Practice yoga, breathing exercises, and relaxation techniques. Yoga can stretch and strengthen muscles and improve posture, although need to modify some poses if they aggravate symptoms.
- Eat plenty of foods high in essential fatty acids for their anti-inflammatory effects. Walnuts, salmon, mackerel, and ground flaxseeds are rich in fatty acids. Also, fish oil reduces inflammation and provides joint lubrication.
Don’ts for Back Pain
- Avoid exposure to cold weather or cold winds.
- If you smoke, quit. Smoking decreases blood flow and prevents healing.
- Avoid over physical exercise.
- Avoid heavy lifting.
- Avoid lifting with twisting, bending forward, or reaching.
- Avoid sitting for long periods of time. Change your position frequently
(every 15 to 30 minutes).
- Have severe Backache.
- Back pain follows an injury.
- Losing weight or have a fever.
- Have difficulty in controlling your bowels or bladder; tingling and numbness in the anal or genital area; or muscle weakness.