Can your back pain be treated at home?

Can your back pain be treated at home?

Not all back pain requires you to see a doctor.

Because the back is composed of a complex system of muscles and ligaments surrounding the spine’s intricate web of bones and joints, back pain can stem from minor sprains, strains and irritated nerves.

“If you are in otherwise good health, have not been injured in an accident and your pain is neither severe nor accompanied with numbness, weakness or difficulties with your bowel or bladder function, you may be experiencing minor muscle pain that can be managed at home,” says Dr. Jerrel Boyer, a neurosurgeon at Advocate Trinity Hospital, in Chicago. “Minor back pain will typically go away on its own within four to six weeks.”

Minor back pain can be managed at home with brief bouts of rest, heat or ice packs, exercise and over-the-counter pain medications. However, Dr. Boyer warns do-it-yourselfers to be careful of inversion boots, racks and tables that are popular among chronic sufferers of back pain — especially if you have high blood pressure, heart disease or glaucoma.

“The idea of suspending yourself upside down, allowing gravity to decompress and pull your spine into alignment, may seem like a logical DIY plan for back pain relief, but inversion therapy is not safe for everyone and can cause more harm than good,” Dr. Boyer says.

“Plus,” he adds, “There is no clear-cut evidence that inversion therapy is helpful.”

Resting in an inverted position with your feet directly above your head for more than a couple of minutes may cause your blood pressure to rise and slow down your heartbeat, which can lead to stroke. An inverted position will also cause your eye pressure to spike, which can heighten the vision-damaging effects of glaucoma.

Dr. Boyer says back pain can also result from more serious conditions such as ruptured disks, irritated joints and diseases of the internal organs.

He recommends seeing your doctor immediately if your back pain comes with flu-like symptoms, unexplained weight loss or if you have a history of osteoporosis or cancer. He also recommends seeking prompt attention if you have any of the more serious warning signs (described above), including numbness, weakness or bowel or bladder dysfunction.

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  1. Gary Vandervest June 11, 2018 at 1:01 pm · Reply

    I’ll probably never go to a doctor again for back pain. I was in extreme pain when I went to the doctor but ended up seeing a nurse practioner. She said I should keep doing what I was doing and I was charged $112… pain medication, no muscle relaxant, nothing.

  2. I had back pain for months that would radiate down to my right leg. It was suggested that I replace my mattress. I did exactly that. I purchased a “Casper” foam type mattress in October of last year. Within one week, my back pain was gone and has not returned.

  3. Go to a chiropractor, don’t ever trust a surgeon

  4. All these comments are rather strange except for perhaps the last one, Mr. or Ms. ‘NO’. Sure, one’s problem could be so simple as to warrant a new bed or whatever, but that’s highly enological that your pain is the same as that gal’s. While seeing a chiropractor is the absolute best advice, it is true that certain medical problems that only an M.D. can assist with can also cause back pains. It just depends on the symptoms, whether or not there was an accident, bone breakage, whatever. But any chiropractor worth his salt will send you to a medical physician if the situation warrants. And don’t forget that time-proven tradition of the bread or beer-belly. Always makes the back sore:)

    But I am baffled really that the author did not include reference to chiropractic. Why would so many chiropractors be making a living if it was not good science, good practice? Hmm….

About the Author

Cassie Richardson
Cassie Richardson

Cassie Richardson, health enews contributor, is manager of public affairs and marketing at Advocate Trinity Hospital in Chicago. She has more than 10 years of experience in health care communications, marketing, media and public relations. Cassie is a fan of musical theatre and movies. When she’s not spreading the word about health and wellness advancements, she enjoys writing fiction.