It may be tempting to quit exercising when you're suffering from back pain, but it's essential to keep yourself moving. Pilates is one great option. In a 2014 European Journal of Physical Rehabilitation Medicine study, researchers found an improvement in pain, disability, and psychological health in chronic low-back pain patients who took five hourlong Pilates classes a week for six months. Meanwhile, people who remained inactive experienced further worsening of their pain. Similarly, a Medicine and Science in Sport and Exercise study revealed that taking either Pilates or a general exercise class twice a week for six weeks both improved pain and quality of life.
The benefits of heat therapy are twofold: it increases the flow of healing oxygen and nutrients to the damaged area, and it suppresses pain signals. Some find that wearing a heat wrap, such as those from ThermaCare, is best because it releases a low level heat for several hours and can be worn under clothes so you can remain mobile. You can also combine the benefits of aromatherapy and a heat by adding an essential oil to the hot pack; you can experiment by making your own microwaveable heating pad at home and adding different essential oils to see what works best for you.
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Collagen—particularly Type II collagen—is the main structural building block of joint cartilage. The human body is made up of 60 percent Type II collagen, and Hydrolyzed Type II collagen contains the amino acids found in human cartilage. Your body uses these amino acids to create new collagen—and repair your cartilage and connective tissue throughout your body. Hydrolyzed Collagen Type II also contains Hyaluronic Acid, which lubricates your joints and makes it an effective natural remedy for inflammation.
This can vary depending on the reason for treating you, so speak with your doctor for advice. If you are using an anti-inflammatory for acute muscle pain, usually treatment lasts for as long as you have pain and inflammation. For example, a few days, or weeks. But if you are being treated for conditions like osteoarthritis, your doctor may advise you to use this medicine for the long term.
Even as you practice patience, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) such as ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) or naproxen (Aleve) can help ease the pain you're pushing through. The research behind medicine guidelines for lower back pain finds that these may give slightly better relief than acetaminophen (Tylenol). Over long periods, NSAIDs can cause gastrointestinal problems, so don't take them for more than 10 days without consulting your doctor.
Chronic pain is a modern day epidemic that affects more than 1.5 billion people worldwide. It costs nations billions of dollars in lost productivity and medical expenses every year. Debilitating pain effects more individuals than heart disease, cancer and diabetes combined. Doctors throw drug after drug at these pain syndromes with very little long-term success. Here are some of the best natural agents to reduce pain.
Funny how things like this slip through the cracks. I communicate with patients and professionals locally and abroad more or less all day every day, study and research musculoskeletal pain problems obsessively, and am more or less constantly immersed in answering the question, “What can you do for body parts that hurt?” And yet I didn’t hear about this stuff for a good year after it had already hit the shelves.
How it works: When back muscles hurt, the pain is usually caused by inflamed tissue. Cold reduces the swelling and discomfort, says Jason Highsmith, a neurosurgeon in Charleston, South Carolina. As soon as you feel pain, apply cold several times a day, 10 minutes at a time, for about three days. A bag of frozen peas works, or try a cold pack, like an Ace Reusable Cold Compress ($10 at drugstores).
Although most cases of back pain are “uncomplicated” and should be able to heal with the treatments mentioned above, sometimes in severe cases other interventions are necessary. Speak to your doctor if you experience lower back pain that does not get better in a few days or weeks. If back pain starts suddenly, look out for other symptoms that may point to a more serious condition, such as a fever, chills, dizziness, numbness or unexplained weight loss.
Pain is a leading cause of insomnia—difficulty with falling asleep and/or staying asleep. Approximately two-thirds of people with chronic back pain suffer from some type of sleep disorder. Paradoxically, inadequate sleep can make your back pain worse. This vicious cycle makes it ineffective to treat just the pain. If you have sleep problems, you need to get the sleep problems addressed too.
In October 2007, diclofenac sodium 1% gel (Voltaren Gel) became the first topical NSAID for OA therapy approved in the United States following a long history of use internationally. Topical diclofenac sodium 1% gel delivers effective diclofenac concentrations in the affected joint with limited systemic exposure. Clinical trial data suggest that diclofenac sodium 1% gel provides clinically meaningful analgesia in OA patients with a low incidence of systemic AEs.
Although it’s been available in Europe for many years, it was only approved for use in the United States in 2007. Also, other topical treatments (salicylates and capsaicin) have shown little potential in the past. And Arnica montana creams (Traumeel, for example) are extremely popular, but it’s unlikely that even full-strength arnica is medically potent, let alone when it is diluted down to traces.3
Herbal therapies: “When back spasms are so strong you can barely move from the bed,” Grossman says, she suggests the homeopathic medicine Bryonia; when you have soreness after overexertion, she uses Arnica. Keep in mind, there’s little scientific evidence that herbals such as Bryonia and Arnica are effective treatments for back pain; though, a study published in Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine in 2016 suggested they might help to reduce chronic low back pain from arthritis when combined with physical therapy.
Just how does acupuncture work? According to traditional Chinese medicine, pain results from blocked energy along the meridians of the body, which are unblocked when acupuncture needles are inserted along these invisible pathways. Acupuncture may also release natural pain-relieving opioids, send signals to the sympathetic nervous system, and release neurochemicals and hormones.
Sudden and intense cold exposure makes you release cold-shock proteins, a special class of proteins that decrease inflammation and speed up recovery. To get the benefits of cold therapy, you can take an ice bath or use a cryotherapy chamber, like the one at Bulletproof Labs. Cryotherapy’s benefits go far beyond inflammation, too. Get a full breakdown of how cryotherapy upgrades your biology.