Health & Personal Care

Back pain symptoms, causes, and effective home remedies for quick relief

Back pain symptoms, causes, and effective home remedies for quick relief

Back pain has been one of the most common causes of disabilities across the world. It is believed that most people will experience backache at least once in their lifetime. Thankfully, in most cases, some measures can be taken to fight back pain. If the back pain is mild and is not caused by a severe underlying condition, it can even be treated with the help of some home remedies. Some of the remedies can even get you back pain relief instantly. Surgery is quite rarely used as a treatment for back pain.

Causes of back pain

The four leading reasons associated with back pain are strain, structural problems with the back, arthritis, and osteoporosis.

  • Strain
    When the muscles are strained, they can cause back pain. The most common causes of strain are the lifting of heavy objects incorrectly and sudden incorrect movements. Over-exerting the muscles can also be one of the reasons that can lead to stress. For example, you might feel some soreness or stiffness in the back after indulging in some sport-related activity for a long duration.
  • Problems with back structures
    Bones, known as vertebrae, interlock and stack upon each other and make the spine. Between every vertebra, there is a space, which is cushioned with disks. When there is any injury caused to these disks, it causes back pain. In some cases, these disks can become herniated, bulged, or ruptured. As a result, a compression can form on the nerves. A herniated disc can cause a tremendous amount of back pain. When there is a disk bulging, it can press the nerve, starting from the back and reaching the leg. This can cause sciatica. Common symptoms of this condition include numbness, tingling sensation, and pain in the leg.
  • Arthritis
    Another cause of back pain can be spinal osteoarthritis. It is often a result of damage and wearing out of the joint cartilage in the lower back. The condition progresses with time and can cause spinal stenosis or narrowing down of the spinal column.
  • Osteoporosis
    A condition identified by bone density loss and bone thinning is referred to as osteoporosis. The condition can cause small fractures in the vertebrae. These fractures, which are known as compression fractures, can result in severe pain.

Other causes

Several other causes can result in back pain. However, they are not common. In case the back pain has become recurrent and does not go away easily, you must see a doctor. Once all the common causes associated with back pain are ruled out, the doctor will then order some tests to check if you are suffering from rare causes. These can include the following:

  • Degenerative spondylolisthesis, a condition which is identified by the slipping of one vertebral body onto another
  • Cauda equina syndrome is a severe condition identified by lost nerve functionality in the lower area of the spinal cord
  • Any infection caused by fungus or bacteria in the spine
  • Formation of a non-malignant or cancerous tumor in the spine
  • Kidney stones or any infection in the kidney

Symptoms of back pain

Back pain has various symptoms. These include:

  • An aching sensation in the back
  • Pain that feels like shooting or stabbing and can run down the leg or even to the foot
  • Pain while standing up
  • Reduced motion and decreasing flexibility in the back

Most symptoms associated with back pain do not last long, especially if it is caused by a strain or a sudden movement. However, in some cases, the pain can stay for several days or even weeks.

When back pain becomes chronic, the symptoms can become recurrent and stay for more than three months.

Symptoms of back pain that indicate a serious underlying problem

If the back pain does not go away within two weeks, you must visit a doctor. This is because the back pain can sometimes indicate a serious underlying condition that needs urgent medical attention. The symptoms that will point towards a serious problem include:

  • Incontinence or loss of control over bladder or bowel movement
  • A tingling sensation, a feeling of weakness or numbness in one or even both the legs
  • Pain that does not go away and becomes severe during night
  • Loss of weight, which cannot be explained
  • A throbbing sensation in the abdomen area, which can cause pain
  • Fever

Treatment for back pain

In many cases, people will not require any extensive measures to get back pain relief. Some painkillers that are available over-the-counter can be enough to treat the pain. However, if the back pain is severe, you might have to consult a doctor who will prescribe some strong medications.

The medications prescribed for back pain usually include NSAIDs, which are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications. Some examples of these medications include Motrin (ibuprofen) and Aleve (naproxen). You must be careful while taking ibuprofen if you have problems like stomach ulcers or kidney-related issues.

Other over-the-counter options that you may consider include antidepressants, muscle relaxants, and opioids. Make sure not to take any extra dose of over-the-counter medications without checking with your doctor, as these have side-effects.

In rare cases, surgery is recommended to treat back pain. It is generally done in cases where the pain is caused due to structural abnormalities and does not go away with any therapy or medications. Spinal fusion is a type of surgery that is used to give relief from back pain when there is a movement of the spine. The surgery fusion of vertebrae is done into a more solid and single bone, to relieve pain. Another surgery, which can be done to relieve back pain is the one in which the vertebrae and the disks are partially replaced or removed. This is usually done in cases where degenerative bone diseases cause the pain.

In addition to these conventional treatments, you can also consider some alternative treatment methods for back pain. These include:

  • A massage therapy
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • Relaxation techniques
  • Chiropractic adjustments

However, make sure that you consult your doctor before taking any alternative treatments for back pain.

Home remedies for back pain relief

The causes of back pain can be many. These can vary from conditions like degenerative arthritis or bending incorrectly while picking up something heavy. However, regardless of what causes it, back pain can be extremely discomforting and can even interfere with your daily routine. At times, back pain can be serious. An injury can cause it, and there could be an underlying condition. In such cases, you must consult a doctor without any delays. However, if it is the routine and mild backache, several home remedies can help you effectively in getting back pain relief. Let’s have a look at these remedies here.

  • Consider cold and heat therapy
    This is one of the most effective ways to get back pain relief, and there are studies to back it. If an injury is causing the back pain, directly applying ice packs directly can be extremely beneficial. Wrapping an ice pack and applying it on the back can also help in reducing inflammation. In cases of intense and sudden backaches, ice packs can prove to be helpful by giving a numbing effect. There are cold packs specially designed to provide back pain relief. However, if you don’t have one, you can always use a pack of frozen vegetables. Make sure that the pack is covered in a cloth to prevent frostbites. To get the best results, and to make sure that you are not overdoing it, apply the ice for not more than 20 minutes.

If you are suffering from stiffness in the muscles or muscle ache in the back, heating padding can also help. However, read the instructions carefully before using and check the temperature so that the pad does not overheat. In case you are not able to arrange a heating pad, you can alternatively use a hot bottle. You can also fill a cloth bag of uncooked rice, heat it in a microwave, and apply it on the back.

  • Work on releasing endorphins
    Endorphins are kind of hormones that are released by our body and are extremely helpful in preventing the brain from registering pain signals. With the help of endorphins, you can also reduce stress, anxiety, and symptoms related to depression. These are all linked with severe back pain and are known to worsen the pain further. There are several activities that you can indulge in to produce more endorphins in the body. These include massage therapy, meditation, and aerobic exercises.
  • Do some stretching
    Several stretching exercises can help you get back pain relief. Each stretch should be held for 30 seconds, or whatever duration it makes you comfortable. The stretching exercises that you can try include the following:

          • Touch your toes: When you bend forward to touch your toes, it not only stretches the hamstrings but also loosens and eases out the lower back muscles.

Child pose: You should start by sitting on your heels with your knees hip-width apart. Now, bend forward and try to reach for the floor with your head. When you do this, your arms should be stretched out and placed right in the front of your head.

Cobra pose: Start by lying down on your stomach and place your hands beside your shoulders with their face down. Now, start lifting your chest to a point where your head is pointing towards the ceiling.

  • Try to get as much restorative sleep as possible
    When you are in pain, it can lead to insomnia, which means you might not get enough quality sleep. Lack of proper sleep can lead to worsening of back pain. Therefore, you might find yourself trapped in a vicious cycle. However, you must know that restorative sleep is essential for body tissues to restore the energy levels and heal. If you are having any problems sleeping, you must identify the causes and talk to your doctor. They will give you medications and even recommend some lifestyle changes to restore your sleep.
  • Keep the body moving
    Our bodies are designed to keep moving. Therefore, to keep it healthy, you must keep it in motion as much as possible. Indulge in daily activities such as making your bed, going to work, walking the dog, etc. When your backache has subsided, you can also get back to your regular exercises such as swimming, walking, cycling, or any other activity that keeps your back and the body in motion. However, when you face back problems, you must make sure that you are not overdoing these activities.
  • Make your back strong
    When you have managed to overcome the back pain, you must do everything to avoid any future episodes. You can do this by strengthening the muscles that provide support to your lower back. Doing this will enable you to maintain the right posture and the correct alignment of the spine. Also, having a strong abdominal, pelvic, and hip muscles can give ample support to your back. However, you must stay away from abdominal crunches since they can worsen the pain.
  • Try switching to a new pair of shoes
    Wearing ill-fitted shoes does not provide your back the necessary support that it needs. This causes strain on the muscles of the neck, back, and legs. For example, when you wear high heels, it can interfere with the body’s alignment and be the cause of pain in the lower back area. A study has established a link between wearing shoes with high heels for long durations and back pain. If the back pain keeps coming reoccurring, you must consider switching your current shoes with a pair of shoes that fit perfectly and provide the necessary support to your feet and back. If you cannot find the right shoes for yourself, you can take help from a foot specialist or a podiatrist.

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