Back Pain: Treat it and Beat it

Back Pain: Treat it and Beat it

All of us, at one time or another, have experienced back pain. Whether it be the mild discomfort caused from sitting in the same space for hours at a time, or the kind of pain that keeps you from going about your everyday routine, back pain affects everyone at some point in their lives. The agony can be a nuisance, or be completely incapacitating. The key is to know the home remedies for milder cases, and go to the doctor if you experience persistent stiffness. The most common types of back pain are lower, middle or upper back pain, or lower back pain with sciatica.

Lower Back Pain

This happens in the lumbar region and begins right under the rib cage. The condition can ache persistently, or come in sharp bursts. If it lasts for more than 72 hours, consult a physician. However, if the back pain lasts for more than three months, it is defined as chronic. Additionally, Myofascial pain syndromes and fibromyalgia can also cause soreness in the lower back. Myofascial pain causes twinging, tenderness and a loss of motion in specific muscle groups. Fibromyalgia causes discomfort when a trigger point is touched and is known to cause fatigue and stiffness. Note that urgent attention is required if you are suffering from the following symptoms: pain during urination or coughing, fever, loss of bowel and bladder control, leg weakness, and fatigue.

What to do

Stretch. Loosening up the muscle joints can give way to freer joint movements and less pain.

Upper and Middle Back Pain

This can be caused by a few things, most of which can be easily corrected. Overusing of the back contributes largely to it. Pushing yourself past your body’s limitations can cause muscle tears or extreme site discomfort. People who play sports or do a lot of heavy lifting often experience it too. Even though upper and middle back pain is mostly due to physical activity, it can also result from other conditions. For instance, Osteoarthritis (the breaking down of cartilage between joints), scoliosis (the curving of the spine in an unnatural way) and herniated disks (the pressing of bulging disks into nerves) can lead to intense discomfort in the upper and middle back region. One would require urgent attention if back pain is coupled with chest pain, nausea and vomiting, or lightheadedness.

What to do

Improving your posture does wonders. Whereas slouching puts tension on certain areas of the spine while neglecting others. It is also important to take it easy; you can be active, just don’t overdo it. Remember to rest adequately. Again not too much, as that can lead to the weakening of back muscles. Furthermore, exercises catering to the back, shoulders and stomach help strengthen the core, which is key to having a healthy back.


It is caused by the rupturing or bulging of a disk, often due to straining past your physical limits. If an aggravated disk makes contact with the sciatic nerve, pain is experienced from the buttocks down into the legs. Sciatica happens most commonly in people between the ages of 30-50, and can be diagnosed by a physical exam, an MRI and a CT scan.

What to do

Heat and ice; either can relieve back pain so it’s simply a matter of what is available and preference.   Alternating the two also works well. Heating and/or icing the affected area every 2 hours for 20 minutes can make a world of difference. In addition, doctors may recommend anti-inflammatory pain relievers as well as with frequent stretching. Loosening up the joints and building up strength is not only good for immediate relaxation, it has positive long-term effects on your back. In more serious cases, the doctor may prescribe steroid injections or suggest surgery to remove a portion of a herniated disk.

Though back pain can range from being a nuisance to debilitating, there are many ways to treat the symptoms in order to lead a more comfortable life. Certainly, home remedies and improving your lifestyle are crucial to the healing process. However, consulting a physician and learning what exactly needs to be done for your specific case is invaluable.


WebMD: Slideshow: A visual guide to lower back pain. Accessed from:
Accessed July 15, 2015.

Photo Credit: Unfurled via Compfight cc



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