Back pain affects most Americans at some point in their lives. It can range from the occasional twinge that slows you down to severe, constant pain that makes it hard to work, sleep, or perform everyday tasks.
Depending on the cause of your back pain and your pain tolerance, you may be able to treat it at home through simple techniques like rest and over-the-counter medication. In other cases, back pain requires prompt medical attention to prevent an injury from worsening.
Here are some ways that you can determine whether your back pain can be treated at home or deserves a visit to the doctor.
When to Seek Help
Back pain can be a symptom of another condition, a result of trauma, or simply the result of wear and tear. Some causes are more serious than others.
If your back pain started after a recent trauma (such as a car accident, fall, sports injury, or assault), it’s important to seek medical attention at once. Damage to the spinal cord can result in lifelong complications, including paralysis. After a trauma injury to the spine, it’s always best to seek a medical opinion, even if your pain seems delayed, or if you don’t feel the injury is serious.
Another indicator that you should visit a doctor is if your pain persists for a week or more without any signs of improvement. If your back pain is severe and/or constant and seems to be worsening, or if it wakes you up at night, your healthcare provider can advise you whether you require treatment.
If your back pain is accompanied by pain in the abdomen, this may indicate an abdominal aortic aneurysm. This means an artery in the abdomen has torn, and can result in internal bleeding and death. Seek medical help immediately if your pain extends to both your back and abdomen, particularly if it is so severe you are struggling to stand up straight.
You should also seek medical treatment for back pain when it comes with other symptoms like fever, redness, swelling, numbness, or tingling. These can be indicative of serious and even life-threatening conditions.
If you are under the age of 20, are currently or have previously been treated for cancer, or have osteoporosis, it’s best to visit the doctor if back pain strikes.
When to Rest
If your back pain isn’t too severe, and if it isn’t accompanied by other symptoms, then you may be able to soothe the pain and treat the underlying cause with a little rest and home remedy.
The most effective cure for mild back pain is rest, and in this case, a little goes a long way. Get some sleep, or just lie down on a bed or couch, in any position that’s comfortable. If your back feels strained, you can use pillows to ease up the tension between or under your knees, or under your hips or head, depending on your position. Too much bed rest can make matters worse, so be sure to balance it with some gentle physical activity and stretches, once you’re feeling up to it.
Over-the-counter medications can also help alleviate back pain. Try Tylenol, Advil, aspirin, or a similar painkiller. In many cases, a heating pad or cold pack applied to the painful area for 10-30 minutes will help relieve discomfort. If you don’t have one at hand, you can easily create a cold pack by wrapping a damp towel around some frozen peas. You may also want to consider getting a massage, which can loosen up those back muscles and ease the stiffness you may be feeling.
Mild back pain should start to feel better after a day or two. If it doesn’t, it may be time to seek medical treatment.
If you’re looking for a long-term solution to back pain, Stem Cell Therapy may be right for you. This alternative, regenerative treatment has been highly effective for many patients living with back pain, giving them a new lease on life. Contact us today to find out more or to schedule an appointment with the doctor.