How to Treat Back Pain from Arthritis, Sciatica, and More
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Back pain is a scourge of modern society. In fact, approximately 80 percent of people will experience it sooner or later. Sometimes, a disorder like sciatica or arthritis causes it. Other times, lifestyle issues such as smoking, a lack of exercise, or excessive slouching can be contributing factors.
Either way, if you suffer from back pain — which is often debilitating — you should know that effective remedies and treatments are readily available.
Buy a New Mattress
A sagging mattress can sometimes cause back pain. With your body sinking into it, your spine stays out of alignment during the hours you're asleep. No wonder your poor back is aching so much.
If you feel you have a substandard mattress, throw it out and go shopping for a firm model. It'll help keep your vertebrae lined up as you slumber. In fact, there are even mattresses that are designed to help people with back pain. They provide targeted cushioning and firmer spots wherever they're most needed.
Many terrific mattresses are currently on the market, but two of them especially stand out: one for affordability and one for overall quality.
Affordability: The Linenspa Hybrid
Priced at $156, the Linenspa Hybrid mattress is a budget-friendly option with inner springs beneath a thick memory foam layer that contours. It also comes with an outermost layer that's made of quilted fabric. This mattress is certainly appealing to the eyes, and the way it feels is even better. Simply put, it will soothe your body's pressure points all night long.
Considering the low price and quality matching that of more expensive mattresses, the value of the Linenspa Hybrid is unrivaled.
Quality: The Amerisleep AS2
The Amerisleep AS2 is a remarkable product. It's exceptionally thick, moderately firm, and layered for extra comfort. Its cover can convert body heat into infrared waves, which will cool you off, so you shouldn't wake up in the middle of the night because you're too hot.
On top of all that, the Amerisleep AS2's memory foam can quickly reshape itself as you toss and turn. However, you'll probably sleep so soundly on this mattress that you won't move around much at all.
Research Pain Relief Medication
Medication can also play a major role in reducing back pain, which comes in a variety of forms.
First, there are over-the-counter pills like ibuprofen, which is sold under such brand names as Motrin IB and Advil. Ibuprofen, like aspirin, is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). An NSAID restricts the enzyme cyclooxygenase, which plays a role in the digestive process and the functioning of the kidneys. However, it can also trigger inflammation. By keeping this enzyme in check, an NSAID can bring down swelling, reduce pain, and even lower fevers.
Considering some stronger NSAIDs are only available with a prescription, other options for medication might work better for you. For example, some tricyclic antidepressants can reduce chronic back pain. Alternatively, a muscle relaxant might make you feel better, particularly if you have spasms or if your back pain isn't too severe.
In addition, patients can often find relief by applying topical medications to their backs. As with pills, these creams, gels, and ointments are sometimes obtainable by prescription only and sometimes sold over the counter.
Adjust Your Diet or Lifestyle
Everyday habits can take a vicious toll on the spinal column. If you find that your habits are the cause of back pain, your best bet may be to alter said habits to ease back pain over the long haul.
To start, smoking has several adverse effects on the back. It makes you unable to absorb the calcium in your diet, which makes for weaker bones. Nicotine also prevents the right amount of blood from reaching your intervertebral discs, the parts of your body that can absorb shocks and lessen pain.
If your posture isn't straight, you can strain your spine in painful ways. Poor posture over a long period of time can cause the spinal column to change its shape, which may make you more prone to a serious injury. For those reasons, it's vital to practice standing, sitting, and walking tall. Plus, regularly doing exercises that work your abdominal and lower back muscles can improve your posture. With a stronger core, it becomes easier to hold your body upright and your head high.
It's just as important to enjoy a diet that supplies you with all the vitamins and minerals that you need. In particular, nutrients that can strengthen your bones may reduce your back pain. Examples include magnesium, calcium, potassium, and vitamin D. Routine exercise combined with a lean, balanced diet could provide another benefit. They may help you lose some weight, which would then take some of the pressure off your back.
Furthermore, avoid carrying heavy objects and shoveling snow. If you must do either of those activities, try to get other people to help you, and always be sure to lift with your legs.
Take stock of how active you are on a daily basis. If you spend most or virtually all your time sitting or lying down, you might be making your pain worse. Your back muscles could be atrophying; thus, they're offering less support than you need.
Sitting too much can produce too much tension in your lower back, which can result in a pinched nerve or a herniated disc. By contrast, when you move around a lot, you can improve your blood flow. Consequently, more nourishing oxygen will get to the cells of your lower back.
What's more, if you're frequently coping with negative stress, you could try taking up meditation. Meditation can lower your heart rate and ease muscle tension, creating a state of relaxation that blocks the sensation of pain. Of course, to get to the point where you can focus your attention away from your pain at length, you'll probably need a good teacher and plenty of practice.
In the end, back pain is a stubborn and highly complex medical issue. It can have a wide range of physical and mental causes, and in many cases, people have back pain due to some combination of those factors. As a way to cover all your bases, it's crucial to see your physician for a comprehensive exam, a precise diagnosis, and some expert advice when you're seeking treatment.
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