Back pain is increasingly one of the most common medical complaints of people everywhere, not just among the middle-aged and elderly. Young adults and teenagers are frequently seeking medical treatment for back pain, likely due to an increase in anxiety, sedentary lifestyles, obesity, and poor posture. Unfortunately, medical treatment for this can end up costing quite a bit of money and may still leave you with no clear diagnosis.
The good news is that, for many back pain types not caused by severe injuries or underlying conditions, many people can actually manage their back pain at home with readily available at-home treatments that are much cheaper than paying for unnecessary medical bills. Read on to find out more about what may be causing your back pain, as well as different treatment options available to you.
Different Types of Back Pain & What They Mean
Different types of back pain have different meanings, or causes, depending on where the pain is located, the intensity and type of the pain, and whether the pain is mobile or stagnant. Additionally, two different people with the same back injury or strain may experience different pain levels despite suffering from the same condition. Thus, back pain is often difficult to diagnose and treat. The back is also made up of an assortment of different muscles, bones, and tissues, and pain can occur if any part of this complex system is damaged or strained.
Lower back pain is the most commonly cited position for back pain and a good reason. There are quite a few causes of lower back pain, and they are most often associated with minor injuries from an active lifestyle or sustained poor posture. Injury to this area can happen suddenly, such as during a sports-related injury or after lifting a heavy object or developing over an extended period of time (such as in the case of poor posture). It can also be associated with menstrual cramps or pregnancy.
Pain in your upper back is rare and, unfortunately, more often associated with underlying conditions that may be more serious because the bones located in this region connect directly to your ribcage. Pain in this area is most likely due to sustained trauma. If you experience other symptoms, such as fever, chills, numbness, or severe pain, you should immediately contact your doctor.
If you have pain in your middle back or the region located just below the rib cage, this can also indicate a variety of causes, many of which can often be vague. This is because they are typically not caused by something physically obvious, such as trauma (in the case of upper back pain) or strain/posture (such as lower back pain). Pain in the middle back region is most often associated with anxiety, obesity, pregnancy, smoking, or other lifestyles that are only fully realized by having a patient relationship.
Back pain can be caused by an external injury – such as tearing a muscle, bruising, falling, or a sprain – or internal injuries, such as a herniated disc or arthritis. Additionally, tight, stressed muscles from tension may cause back pain. Many back pain types that don’t involve severe injury needing complex medical treatment may be treated or at least soothed until the body can heal naturally in your own home. Of course, if you are ever in severe pain or your pain is not relieved by at-home remedies within a few days, you should always consult with your primary care physician.
Remedies for Back Pain
If your back pain is caused by a muscle sprain, strain, or poor posture, sometimes the most helpful thing you can do is work the muscle out by moving around and stretching. In the beginning, this may feel counterproductive. It will hurt to move at first, and you will likely want to just lay on the couch on top of a bag of frozen peas. But in truth, laying around and doing nothing causes important muscles to begin to atrophy, and weak back muscles are likely what led to the injury in the first place. Help your current injury heal faster and prevent new ones by stretching and moving around at least a little bit every day.
Hot & Cold Treatments
Studies show that both hot and cold treatments can do wonders to relieve back pain. Ice, cold packs, or really anything frozen can help to numb the affected area and reduce inflammation. This is most helpful for direct injuries sustained from heavy lifting or athletic activities. Make sure you don’t allow the frozen item to make direct contact with your skin, and only apply the product for 20 minutes at a time.
Hot pads and water bottles – or even a bag of dry, microwaved rice – can help relieve back pain caused by sustained trauma (such as spending the day repeatedly bending or lifting, poor posture, or menstrual cramps). The warmth from these devices can ease and break up tense and stressed muscles.
Use Pain Relief Medication
There’s much over-the-counter medication out there that is directly intended to ease pain and inflammation. The same medicines you may take to help with migraines or cramps may also reduce back pain caused by inflammation, as the drug serves the same purpose. OTC medications such as ibuprofen, Advil, or naproxen can all work to reduce inflammation in the body.
Of course, if you’d rather not take medication, there are also many all-natural and/or topical pain relief solutions. You can pick up an anti-inflammatory cream or gel at nearly any pharmacy, apply lavender essential oils to the affected area, or go for acupuncture or a massage.
You can also ease back pain with a massage. When you bump your knee or elbow against something hard, your first instinct is to massage the area. This is because massaging painful areas allows your pain receptors to be blocked by the rubbing stimulus you’re applying to the injured area. Back massages work similarly. You can have someone else in your home give you a general back massage, but you can also find much better results by scheduling an appointment with a licensed massage therapist.
How a Massage Can Ease Back Pain
If your problem area is located in the lower back, you may be the perfect candidate for massage therapy to ease your pain. If your pain is caused by muscle strain or tension, a massage can work to break up the tension within the affected muscle. A good massage therapist will be able to specifically target the damaged muscle for fast, effective pain relief.
Many stress types that cause back pain include repetitive bending or stooping, running on uneven surfaces, heaving lifting, or poor posture. These back injuries can easily be located and targeted by a massage therapist. Once discovered, they will work out the aching tissue. This may be more painful at the moment but will ultimately lead to decreased or even eliminated pain by the massage.
Scientific Benefits of a Massage
- Massages reduce pain . Massages are known to stimulate the release of endorphins, a hormone directly linked to pain reduction and feelings similar to morphine. This is the same hormone released when we exercise for an extended period of time.
- Massages reduce anxiety . Massages also cause the body to produce oxytocin, known as the “love hormone,” while reducing stress hormones such as cortisol that directly cause the physical effects of anxiety.
- They can help to prevent migraine headaches . Several studies have been done that prove that massages have a beneficial effect on reducing the frequency and severity of migraines and tension headaches and improving sleep quality.
- Massages can lower blood pressure . Massages can lower high blood pressure when specific types of massages are utilized, such as deep-tissue massage.
- Decreased back pain . When combined with exercise and stretching, massages have been directly related to lower back pain management, especially when pain is chronic or caused by sustained stress.
Benefits of an In-Home Massage
There are many benefits to receiving an at-home massage instead of travelling to a spa or massage center to receive one. For starters, during the COVID-19 pandemic, receiving an at-home massage can reduce your risk of exposure to others since you will likely only be interacting with one single, masked individual.
However, there are benefits outside this that you can take advantage of even long after the pandemic has ended. First of all, and most obviously, with an in-home massage, you never have to leave your house. You can be certain that you will always be in a comfortable environment, with no exposure to new stimuli or stressful interactions with people you don’t know. You won’t be pressured to purchase any products, smell any scents that you may not enjoy, or wait in sometimes scary-looking waiting rooms.
Second, you won’t have to drive to or from your appointment. Driving can directly cause stress, potentially cancelling out the positive emotional benefits. Not just that, but just following a good massage, you’ll likely feel sleepy or “massage-drunk.” You won’t want to immediately snap out of that to be alert enough to drive. With an at-home massage, you’ll be able to take full advantage of your relaxation…or fall into your bed right after and take a nap!
You’ll also likely be able to take advantage of a higher-quality massage. When the massage therapist can see your home, they get to know something more about you as a person and can subsequently connect with you better. They also will view you as more of a person instead of just as a customer, leading them to be more likely to form an empathetic connection with you. This is essential for something as intimate as a massage. Additionally, in-home massages typically last longer. In a spa, hour-long massages typically only last 50 minutes to ensure every customer makes it in on time. However, when in your home, the massage therapist will typically take the full hour.
Another benefit is that you can have your pets or other family members present. Be with your dog, cat, or baby while the massage is going on, providing a still higher level of comfort. Also, by being in your own home, you can set up the room exactly the way you like it. You get little to no say over what scents, music, or decor are present in the room during your massage in a spa. But at home, you can burn your own candles or perfume whatever essential oils you please. You can also set up a bath with Epsom salts to go directly before or after your appointment for a cheaper, at-home alternative to a complete spa setup.
Back pain can be caused by various factors and exist in multiple different regions of the torso. Ultimately, there are several simple ways to manage non-medically-severe back pain at home, including movement, hot and cold treatments, and over the counter pain medications. However, one of the best methods of relieving back pain is with a massage; and even better, there is a multitude of other health benefits to massages. Finally, In-home massages offer the best access to the highest quality massage for the best price and ultimate comfort level. Book your first at-home massage today and see how it can change your life.
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