If you’ve been desperately popping Tylenol or Advil for your back pain, but not getting any relief, we can assure you of two things. One you’re not being a sissy and two you’re not alone.
Countless folks turn to over-the-counter NSAID or acetaminophen painkillers to ease their back pain only to discover they’re next to useless. And now research is finally backing up that experience.
According to recent studies, NSAIDs and acetaminophen are ineffective against back pain. In fact, only about one in every six people get relief from an NSAID, and even fewer get any substantial help from Tylenol.
But that doesn’t mean you simply have to grin and suffer. And you don’t have to resort to heavy duty prescription painkillers or muscle relaxers to finally get some relief either.
Following are nine proven effective pain relievers that alone, or used in combination, could help you overcome your back pain once and for all.
Some folks feel a bit intimidated by the ancient practice of acupuncture. There’s no reason to be. It’s painless and it works. In fact, a recent study out of England confirmed it.
The analysis, published in the National Institute for Health Research Journals Library, examined 29 different studies and concluded that acupuncture significantly reduces all kinds of pain, including back pain. To make sure you’re getting the most out of your session be sure you find a fully licensed professional.
Study after study has found that another ancient practice, yoga, is tops when it comes to wiping out back pain. In a comprehensive review of 10 studies, published in the Clinical Journal of Pain, researchers concluded that yoga has a significant effect on short-term back pain.
In too much pain to consider trying traditional yoga right now? No problem! A new study found chair yoga is effective too. Check YouTube for some free chair-yoga routines to try, or contact a local yoga coach about designing a program you can use to help you recover.
3. Get some sleep:
It’s a vicious cycle. Your back pain prevents you from getting a good night’s sleep and then lack of sleep makes your back pain even worse keeping you from sleeping. Do your best to break the cycle by investing in the right mattress and pillows and creating a good sleep environment.
Medium-firm mattresses tend to be best for back pain, so start there. A pillow between the knees can do wonders too. Stay away from cell phones, tablets, laptops and any other backlit devices for at least an hour before bed and make sure your bedroom is free from distracting electronics.
4. Stay hydrated:
Getting enough fluids keeps the discs in your spine healthy. Plus, it helps ensure proper blood flow, so your back isn’t as stiff. Dehydration on the other hand can lead to muscle cramping, making back pain worse.
5. Get some sun:
Several studies, including one out of Boston University and another out of University of Minnesota, have linked low vitamin D levels with pain. While folks getting adequate D, on the other hand, experienced far less pain, or were even pain free.
According to one study published in the Indian Journal of Clinical Biochemistry, a group of low back pain sufferers had significantly lower levels of the vital vitamin than a control group who didn’t have any pain. Get your 10-15 minutes of sun daily, or consider vitamin D supplements, and feel better.
6. Stretch your hamstrings:
While you may already be doing gentle back stretches it’s important to stretch your hamstrings—the large thigh muscles that are located at the back of your legs above your knees—as well. It turns out tight hamstrings can put additional painful pressure on your lower back. Stretch them carefully twice a day for best results.
7. Strengthen your core:
Exercise in general is good for getting rid of all kinds of pain, but if you struggle with back pain exercises that strengthen your core—the muscle around your middle—can help relieve the pain and keep it from coming back. The yoga we mentioned earlier can be used to target your core. Or check online for free core exercises for back pain.
8. Try meditation:
Studies show meditation is surprisingly helpful for relieving back pain. Experts believe that it works because it helps us to relax our muscles which tighten up when we’re hurting.
If you’ve never meditated before you can try a guided meditation during which you listen to a recording of someone talking you through the exercise. Here’s a short, simple one to get your started…
When you’re in pain the last thing you feel like doing is laughing. But give it a try anyway. Put on your favorite funny movie, check YouTube for some hilarious pet videos or simply spend some time with your favorite class clown friend. Laughing will release endorphins that instantly help ease pain.
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