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Back pain can make everyday tasks nearly impossible. Anything from sitting or walking your home or playing with your kids can exacerbate the pain. Even sitting or sleeping can be difficult. At some point in their lives, most everyone will experience some type of back pain. While you should always speak with a medical professional if you are struggling with chronic back pain, there are a few steps that you can take at home to address this common problem.
Alternate Hot and Cold Packs
Immediately following a back injury, you can speed up the recovery process by alternating hot and cold packs. The ice packs are going to numb the area, and that should alleviate some of the pain. When you put a heat pack on your back, it is going to increase blood flow and relax the aching muscles. Those two packs should be switched every 15 or 20 minutes, and you must never put them directly on your skin.
If the injury is older, ice won’t be helpful, but the heat will still be good for increasing circulation to the area and easing joint pain. It may be tempting to keep the heat on it constantly, but you should never leave the heat on one spot for more than about twenty minutes. More than that can cause skin irritation or burns.
Carefully Move Around
Though rest is a necessary part of the healing process, you shouldn’t rest in bed for days on end. Remaining immobilized for long periods of time is going to impede your blood flow and allow your muscles to become stiff. As long as the injury isn’t severe, you should try to walk around or gently stretch your back once every hour or two.
Don’t let your pain keep you from being active. Some light exercise will help make your back and other joints limber, keeping you more mobile and pain-free in the long run. Just remember to listen to your body and stop if your pain gets worse.
Rethink Your Diet
When you’re in pain, it means your body is still trying to heal, even if the pain has been there for a while. The healing process will be very difficult if your diet is poor. As a general rule, you want to stick to nutrient-dense foods that are packed with vitamins and minerals. You need to make sure that you are eating plenty of protein as well. Protein is one of the building blocks of your soft tissue, and consuming that macronutrient will any ongoing healing.
Change How You Sleep
Rest is important when you’re dealing with pain, so you should be sleeping for at least seven or eight hours a night. The most recommended position to sleep in when you’re dealing with back pain is on your back with pillows under your head and knees. That position will decompress your spine and improve blood flow throughout your body.
You can also sleep on your side with a pillow between your legs if that is more comfortable. The pillow will keep your back and hips stay in alignment. If you do sleep like this, be sure to switch sides every couple nights.
If you tend to sleep on your front, just put a pillow underneath your stomach. Sleeping on your stomach isn’t usually recommended when you have back pain, because the position puts a strain on your spine. Putting a pillow underneath you will reduce that strain though, and keep your body aligned.
These few tactics should only be thought of as temporary solutions for minor back problems. If you are struggling with severe or chronic back issues, then you must head to a back pain clinic. At one of those clinics, a team of medical professionals can help you come up with a long-term treatment plan.