Beaufort Memorial’s Living Well Blog brings health and wellness to Lowcountry living.

Nonsurgical Back Pain Remedies

Posted by Surgical Services Team on Dec 1, 2015 10:46:24 AM

Back pain may get you out of yard work, but when it becomes more than just a handy excuse, it's time to take action. 

Back pain is one of the top five most common reasons for all physician visits, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians. Although back pain is a common problem, you usually can keep it from ruling your life by recognizing the signs and symptoms and making appropriate, and simple, lifestyle changes.

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“Back pain is usually not a surgical problem,” says Scott Strohmeyer, MD, of Beaufort Orthopaedic Sports & Spine Center. “With proper therapy, such as spinal stimulation, it will go away 99 percent of the time.” For most people, these conditions will improve with ice, mild painkillers, proper exercises and physical therapy.

What You Feel:

Pain with activity such as lifting or twisting, stiffness or muscle spasm

What It Might Mean:

A muscle sprain in the back

Try This:

Ice the area. After the area has healed, start squatting. Exercises that strengthen your legs and your core will help take the pressure off your back. It's important to correct the deconditioning that causes back pain and to also strengthen your body's weaknesses. If pain and swelling don't subside after a few days, it's important to see a doctor to rule out serious injuries.

What You Feel:

A tingling, dull aching, burning or pulsating sensation in any area of your back

What It Might Mean:

Disk pain caused by pressure or rupture between the vertebrae (herniated disk)

Try This:

You will need rest and perhaps anti-inflammatory medications. Stretches like a cat-back stretch can reduce pressure in the area and slow the progression. The body has the ability to heal itself, so you should exhaust conservative care first by implementing exercise therapy and improving nutrition. Stretching creates a vacuum that allows the disk to be sucked back in.

What You Feel:

Pressure and pain radiating through the back of your thigh and leg

What It Might Mean:

Sciatica, caused by pressure (triggered, for example, by a slipped disk, spinal stenosis or a pelvic injury) on the sciatic nerve, the longest and widest single nerve in the entire body

Try This:

Treatment depends on the underlying cause of sciatica. Muscle treatments such as massage can break up adhesions that contribute to nerve pressure. This allows the nerve to move freely throughout the muscles again. If it doesn't improve, an MRI will need to be taken to determine the cause.

What You Feel:

General pain and weakness in the body, including in the arms and legs

What It Might Mean:

Spinal stenosis, a narrowing of the spinal canal that may put pressure on the spinal cord

Try This:

Try resistance training, such as lifting weights or using a stability ball, to strengthen your core, which helps prevent back pain in the future. Proper form is key, so you may want to ask your physician for a referral to a physical therapist or hire a personal trainer.

To learn more about back pain treatment options at Beaufort Memorial, click here.

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