Over 64,620,000 people in the us had lower back pain in 2012… (National Health Statistics Reports, 2016).
If you are wondering how to relieve back pain fast, then you are in the right place.
According to National Health Statistics Reports (2016), back pain affected more than 20% of the population in the US during the previous 12 months.
Even though it is a common type of musculoskeletal disorder, in some cases back pain can be treated fairly quickly.
In this article I am going to show you how to relieve back pain fast, suggesting you 21 ideas that can help you.
Back pain is often caused by poor posture, which is itself caused by a poor chair. Here is a bunch of top quality office chairs that I reviewed. They suit any budget – check them out! 😎
And, to begin with, here are the 5 most effective ones (based on my experience), that I took out from the entire list of 21.
Here are top 5 ways to relieve back pain. Get in touch if you want to use this infographic! 🙂
There Are Too Many Reasons…
If you were to search for “low back pain causes” or any such related search term, you are likely to come across Healthline.com’s list of 32 possible causes.
Here is the scary list for your reading pleasure:
- Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)
- List Element
- Slipped (Herniated) Disk
- Kidney Stones
- PMS (Premenstrual Syndrome)
- Spinal Cord Abscess
- Ankylosing Spondylitis
- Threatened Abortion (Threatened Miscarriage)
- Cervical Dysplasia
- Chronic Nonbacterial Prostatitis
- Uterine Prolapse
- Sprains and Strains
- Ectopic Pregnancy
- Reactive Arthritis
- Multiple Myeloma
- Dissection of the Aorta
- Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm
- Bone Infection (Osteomyelitis)
- Renal Cell Cancer
That was quite a list and given that as much as 32 possible causes of low back pain were given (at least as at the time of writing this), one would have thought that such a list would be pretty exhaustive.
Sadly, that is not the case.
You might have already noticed that they did not mention the most basic of all:
>>> Tight Muscles <<<
Tight muscles (i.e. muscles that are in spasm) are the culprit of a large percentage of back pains out there.
Given the above, finding simple and quick ways of addressing this basic cause of low back pain should therefore be your priority.
This brings us to the crux of this article…
21 Ways to Relieve Back Pain Fast
We shall break these into two parts for easier reading:
- Part 1: How to Relieve Back Pain by Yourself. The first part covers ways that you can do or attempt by yourself.
- Part 2: Getting Relief with Professional Help. In this part I cover ways that require some professional assistance.
Part 1: How to Relieve Back Pain by Yourself
Below you will find 12 tips on how to relieve back pain fast all by yourself.
Check them out and see how they work for you.
You can also see the Part 2 below, where I give another 9 tips on how you can get relief with some professional help.
#1: Roll & Stretch
Generally speaking, a lot of back pain comes from tight hip flexors and hip stabilizers with piriformis muscle having a pretty bad reputation for the widely-known piriformis syndrome.
This is when sciatica folks should listen really carefully.
Now, what is piriformis syndrome?
“Piriformis syndrome usually starts with pain, tingling, or numbness in the buttocks. Pain can be severe and extend down the length of the sciatic nerve (called sciatica). The pain is due to the piriformis muscle compressing the sciatic nerve, such as while sitting on a car seat or running.”
As you can see, pain starts from piriformis muscle compressing the sciatic nerve…
Now, why is it compressing on the first place?
The answer is simple.
Spasmed, so to say.
It might also have an active trigger point, which is a sign of muscle being overworked and/or worked improperly.
When it comes to piriformis, usually the story goes this way.
People spend a lot of time sitting in their office chairs, which makes their gluteus maximus muscles (in other words, their bum muscles) inactive and underutilized.
Given that, glutes stop working and hip join still needs to be stabilized , piriformis muscle takes a big part of the work, which results in it being overworked really fast.
This is how low back pain also appears.
The fix is a 2-stage process.
In stage 1 you need to roll and stretch piriformis muscles, so it loosens up (this can help relieve low back pain fast…really fast).
Stage 1: Loose Up the Piriformis
Above is a quick way to use self myofascial massage in order to work on any possible trigger points your piriformis might have.
This is important and should be done before stretching (doing it vice versa will diminish the effectiveness of stretching)
In stage 2 you need to do some exercises in order to re-activate your glutes and, if necessary, make them stronger.
This combination will help you relieve your back pain and get rid of sciatica almost immediately.
Stage 2: Glute Activation
Generally speaking, piriformis would become overused with glutes being underactive.
The goal is to remind glutes that they are “there” and that they need to work.
#2: Change The Chair
Your chair should be comfortable. Look at the swivel!
Now that I mentioned office chairs and back pain, you might want to consider switching your regular seat and taking one of the best office chairs.
This is especially important, if you spend more than 6 hours a day sitting at a desk or when working with your computer.
Ergonomic office chair, unlike a standard chair, has a number of adjustability options, which help you sit comfortably during the entire working day, while delivering quality work (making yourself and, certainly, your boss, very happy.
For example, when it comes to back pain, these chairs might offer you an adjustable lower back support, which helps your back stay in a natural pain-free position.
Make sure that your chair is adequate for your condition and go ahead and change it, if necessary, because this thing does have a big effect on back pain.
#3: Check Your Mattress
A lot of us do not know how important the mattresses we sleep on are.
If it does not provide good support, you could find your spine curving into different shapes because the mattress is not able to maintain a flat support.
If you wake up every morning with aches, it’s time to check that mattress.
Ensure your mattress is nice and firm.
The mattress should neither be too firm, nor too soft.
Find that kind of mattress may take some time and, if you shoot for a classier thing, resources.
However I consider good sleep as an investment (as you will see right below) and recommend that you also do the same.
#4: Have a Good Sleep
Sleep helps the body rejuvenate by resting the muscles.
A quick way to relieve low back pain is resting.
This can be a bit difficult at times especially with the pain.
If however you do not rest well, you are likely to worsen the pain.
It is therefore important that you try to sleep well so your body can rest and repair some damaged tissues.
Still on the issue of getting some rest, I need to point out here that you MUST make sure your sleeping position is ideal so you don’t worsen the back pain.
If you can, lie on your side with a pillow placed between your knees.
This will keep your spine in a neutral position.
If however you want to lie on your back, then place the pillow under your knees.
Everything written under this point is hinged on the premise that you have taken care of point 3.
#5: Stay Mobile
Yeah you read right. It does sound contradictory right?
Well, let me explain.
You do not expect to rest all day long.
Studies have shown that not exercising or not staying active as a result of low back pain can weaken the back muscles, worsening the pain.
It is obvious that the pain may not allow you be as active as you can be.
However, make as much attempts as you can and the better you get, the more active you should aim to be.
#6: Work Those Muscles
This is basically a continuation from point 5 above.
Working your muscles help strengthen them.
According to studies, it has been shown that strengthening those muscles not only help relieve the pain, they also help prevent a recurrence in over 30% of the cases.
#7: Improve Dynamic Core Stability
Okay, this one might look weird and scary, so please let me go over it really quick.
Do you know what is the function of abdominal muscles (aka “abs”)?
We need them, because, once the wind blows in our face, we don’t want the backbone to break!
This was a (not so funny) joke, I used to tell my students while training with them in the park.
In other words, abdominals, just like obliques and many other muscles are there to stabilize the core.
Now, there are two types of stabilization: dynamic & static.
Static stabilization is what people train most of the time in the gym using a very famous exercise called plank (also known as front hold and abdominal bridge).
While this is good, it’s just not good enough, because our bodies, even when we sit, are not static.
What are they?
Dynamic stabilization is what you really need to look into.
Generally speaking, any animal movement exercises performed on the floor are about dynamic core stability: lizard crawl, bear walk and many others.
And here is a video example:
#8: Try Ice
No doubt these low back pains can be quite painful.
One thing that can help is the application of ice packs on the affected area.
This can help reduce inflammation and relieve pain.
Try applying an ice pack for about 20 minutes per application.
Try this a number of times per day, but be careful to not overdo it.
#9: Now Try Some Heat
Once again I am not contradicting myself.
Heat helps the muscles relax while increasing blood circulation in the area.
Start the heat treatment after you have worked with the ice pack for some days.
You can also take hot baths as a way of applying heat.
However, it is not a good idea to sleep on heating pads as this can burn or cause some tissue damage.
#10: Ergonomics Is More Than Just Your Chair You Know
In point 2 above, I spoke about choosing the right chair.
I recommended a fully ergonomic chair and that is very important.
However, ergonomics does not end with your chair.
Your entire work space can improve or worsen your low back pain.
Here are a few pointers; everything you use very frequently while working should be kept within easy reach.
Avoid unnecessary stretching and twisting while reaching for an item.
Once again, keep them within easy reach.
You should also keep your screen height level with your eyes so your neck is not bent at an angle when you are looking at it.
You should ensure your mouse and keyboard are at the right height so your hands rest at a 90 degree angle while working.
(See more on how to arrange your workspace – 105 Office Ergonomics Tips)
#11: Lose The Heels
What’s more important to you – staying fashionable in those heels while in serious pain or getting relief from pain?
This should be a no-brainer.
Lose those high heels.
High heels do not promote correct posture.
In fact, they make your posture unstable, thereby increasing pressure on your lower spine.
If you want to stay pain free, go for low heels.
In fact, go for heels less than 1 inch high.
I believe your health is more important to you than your looks.
#12: Take Some Pain Killers
I am sure you did not expect this one.
Yes, you can get relief from low back pain with simple over the counter pain killers.
Like I already stated, low back pain in itself is usually an indication of something happening in the body so taking pain killer is not aimed at fixing the problem, but relieving the pain so you can take other actions.
For example, I have advised that you stay active.
Sometimes it may be next to impossible to do so without the help of some pain killers.
The key here is not to over-do it.
Pain killers are temporary fixes that allow you address the underlying cause of the pain.
Part 2: Getting Relief with Professional Help
We have looked at some things you can do for yourself.
It’s now time to look at things you are likely to need professional help with.
#13: Go to a Chiropractor
A Chiropractor is a professional who handles neuromuscular conditions.
These professionals will basically try to work to get your spine to be arranged in its optimal position.
The whole idea of chiropractic treatment is based on the belief that structural and biomechanical failures with the spine leads to conditions that affect the nervous system.
Working with a Chiropractor can result in some relief once the spinal issues have been taken care of.
#14: Get A Massage
Daniel C. Cherkin, PhD, associate director and senior scientific investigator with the Center for Health Studies at Group Health Cooperative in Seattle carried out a study to see the effect of massage on low back pain treatment.
In this study, about 400 adults who had been suffering from different degrees of low back pain for at least three months were broken into three groups.
One group had weekly whole body massages, another had weekly massages that where focused on the muscles affected while the last group were left with their usual care which included taking of pain killers, physical therapy and whatever they chose.
At the end of 10 weeks of the study, participants in the two massage groups recorded a higher average improvement record.
They had less pain and were able to function better.
The type of massage did not matter so getting a massage can help you with low back pain.
#15: Try Egoscue Method
This is a method of treatment that does not involve any form of medication.
It simply focuses on restoring the body to its right posture.
It does not just seek to rectify the body’s posture but also teaches its patients to maintain the right posture regardless of where they are and what they are doing.
Working with a certified practitioner, you will be taken through some Egoscue exercises which are simply aimed at fixing misalignment issues in the body’s entire musculoskeletal system.
#16: Try Alexander Technique
Alexander Technique like Egoscue Method attempts to address the issue of the balance of the body from the head down.
It believes that once the body is properly aligned, a lot of the pains and aches we experience will cease.
This position has received some backing from respected medical researchers.
The study carried out by Paul Little, professor of primary care research which was aimed at finding out among other things the effectiveness of using Alexander Technique lessons in the treatment of low back pain showed that one on one lessons of Alexander Technique had long term benefits for those suffering chronic back pain.
#17: Try Acupuncture
Acupuncture is a procedure that involves the stimulation of certain areas of the body to facilitate self-healing in the body or simply to alleviate pain.
This is one method that can be used to relieve low back pain.
A study titled: Acupuncture for Low Back Pain: An Overview of Systematic Reviews was carried out by Lizhou Liu, Margot Skinner, Suzanne McDonough, Leon Mabire, and George David Baxter.
The study methodically reviewed a number of randomized controlled trials carried out to study the relationship between low back pain and acupuncture.
After the review, the conclusion was that whether used in isolation or in conjunction with other treatments, acupuncture offered short-term improvement in function and pain relieve in chronic low back pain.
#18: Consider Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS)
This works similar to acupuncture but uses electrical pulses to try to block pain signals from being transmitted.
Gadsby JG1 and Flowerdew MW carried out a study to ascertain the effectiveness of TENS in the treatment of low back pain.
The study titled: Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation and acupuncture-like transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation for chronic low back pain concluded that though more data was needed for more accurate results, the available data supported the fact that TENS reduced pain and improved function in people with chronic low back pain even if only in the short term.
#19: Try Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Is this not another way of saying “go see a shrink?”
Well, it’s just talking, right?
If just talking can help you overcome that pain by helping you view things differently, what do you lose…especially if it does work?
A study titled “The Effectiveness of Cognitive Behavioural Treatment for Non-Specific Low Back Pain: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis” was carried out to determine the effect of CBT on people with low back pain.
A total of nine databases were searched and randomized controlled trials found and reviewed.
The conclusion of the study after the review was that CBT had a positive long-term effect in the areas of pain reduction for patients with low back pain regardless of age and duration of the condition.
#20: Try Biofeedback
This is a technique used to try to control involuntary body functions like your heart rate.
Using electric sensors, you get feedback that help you make subtle changes in your body.
With this technique, you can relax specific muscles to relieve pain.
Is it effective?
Newton-John TR1, Spence SH, and Schotte D carried out a study to compare between CBT and Biofeedback.
The study tried to find out which was more effective.
Its conclusion was that they were of equal effectiveness both in the short and long term.
Before you get scared, surgeries are usually not the first option in treating low back pain.
According to Howard LeWine, M.D. (Chief Medical Editor, Internet Publishing, Harvard Health Publications), in most cases, physical therapy works just as well as a surgery, but without the attendant risks and possible complications.
Having said the above, he went on to note that surgery could become necessary should the nerves come under immense pressure.
This situation could reveal itself with symptoms such as:
- Inability to control your bowel or bladder
- Strong pain killers cease to be effective
- Muscles around the upper legs or pelvis become weak
Should you experience any of these, I advise you to quickly consult your doctor.
These were the 21 tips on how to relieve back pain fast that I included…
If you are aware of other methods, please share them in the comments below!
I hope that you find the best solution for yourself and enjoy pain-free life that’s full of sunshine and happiness!
P.S. And if you found this article useful, please share it with those that might need it!