Your back works hard. In fact, your lower back carries the entire weight of your torso throughout the day, including the time you spend sitting, standing and moving. Unfortunately, our everyday activities as well as the amount of time we spend sitting at work, during our commute and during our leisure make it easy for us to place excess stress on our spine. Sometimes all it takes is just a little bit too much stress in order to cause mild, temporary back discomfort or even a constant, excruciating pain that may develop into chronic back pain.
With all of this in mind, it may be unsurprising that experts estimate that as much as 80% of the population will experience a back problem at some point in their lives.
At Beacon Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine, workplace injuries are one of the primary reasons that patients come to us for back and spine care; however, we also recognize that poor posture, improper body mechanics, or a combination of other factors can all be reasons why individuals throughout Greater Cincinnati turn to us for treatment. In the vast majority of cases, back problems can be treated without the need for surgery.
Before starting any kind of treatment plan, it’s important to make an appointment with one of our board-certified, sub-specialty trained physicians. The following information is intended to help guide your discussion.
Home Remedies for Back Pain
Approximately 80% of all back pain is acute which means that it results from muscle spasms or minor strains or tears in your muscles or ligaments. Acute pain, which can range from mild discomfort to debilitating pain, often comes on suddenly and can last for up to 5 weeks. In most instances, minor problems will improve within 7 days with proper rest.
Of course, there’s never a “good” time for an orthopedic problem, and while it may be comforting to know that your condition will resolve itself with time, our team at Beacon recommends that you always have a plan for orthopedic and spine care. Here are a few steps you can take as a part of your plan for acute back pain.
Heat is an effective way to soothe muscles and connective tissues in the days following a back sprain or strain. Heat should be applied to the site of your discomfort for up to 20 minutes at a time throughout your day utilizing either a hot pack, heating pad, warm bath, or shower.
This type of therapy is effective because it dilates blood vessels and helps facilitate the flow of oxygen and nutrients to your muscle. Heat can also help the soft tissues around your spine become more flexible and consequently bring comfort to your back.
Regular stretching is effective for both easing your current pain as well as preventing future injuries. Stretching will loosen tense muscles, strengthen those that need improvement, and increase your range of motion. Stretches should be done at the start of everyday physical activities, before exercise and whenever you need temporary relief.
It is important to discuss your condition with a physician or orthopedic specialist prior to beginning an exercise or stretching routine. Depending on the location and the cause of your back pain, some stretches may provide you with relief while others may actually worsen your condition. Stretches should always be gentle. If, at any time you experience pain resulting from your activity, stop immediately. A Beacon physical therapist can demonstrate proper stretching techniques to remain mobile, reduce your pain, and prevent injury.
Limit Bed Rest
When you experience pain, the natural inclination is to lie down and take it easy; however, inactivity not only undermines your body’s natural healing process, but it can also be potentially harmful. A lack of activity can reduce your muscle strength and endurance and consequently make it more difficult for your back to support you once you’re on your feet again. Moreover, excessive periods of rest can lead to degenerative joint disease, the development of blood clots, and other serious complications.
Fortunately, all of this can be avoided by remaining active and limiting bed rest. When your pain is severe, your physician may advise that you spend up a day or two resting and return to your everyday activities as soon as you are able.
Manage Your Stress
Back aches and pains aren’t exclusively caused by injury. At times, stress can be a contributing factor to our condition if not the root of it. This is due in part to stress’s ability to cause the muscles, connective tissue and adhesions around our spine to become stiff. This can aggravate nerves and restrict the flow of blood to the affected area.
Of course, this means that relaxation techniques can help you remain calm and avoid potential problems. Meditation, in particular, can also help you improve your tolerance for pain when it does arise as well as your perception of your symptoms.
If your stress stems primarily from a physically demanding job or sport, it’s important to not push yourself too hard or unnecessarily. Scheduled breaks can be an effective way of balancing an active lifestyle with the strain that may result from it.
Professional Back Pain Treatment
Unfortunately, not all back problems resolve within a few weeks. Subacute pain typically lasts 7 to 12 weeks. Chronic pain, by contrast, lasts approximately 12 weeks or longer. In either case, the degree of your pain can range from mild to severe.
These conditions are often the result of an isolated injury or a combination of factors, such as years of poor posture, being overweight, and sleeping on a poor mattress. In some cases, it can also be the result of natural, degenerative changes due to aging or an underlying disease.
If you experience a significant injury or if your acute pain does not improve after several weeks, contact a Beacon Orthopedics spine physician immediately. Here are two of the non-surgical treatments for back pain that Beacon can provide.
The goal of Beacon’s physical therapy program is to relieve your pain, increase your ability to function, and educate you on techniques to prevent further injury.
For the vast majority of our patients, exercise has proven itself to be paramount to their rehabilitation. Patients who regularly undertake aerobic exercise are more likely to remain functional and also experience less pain when an incident occurs. Exercise can also improve the distribution of nutrients throughout your back as well as elevate your mood, keeping both your body and mind healthy.
The type of exercises that your treatment plan consists of will depend primarily upon your specific diagnosis and severity of pain. At Beacon, we provide our patients with the plan, guidance and the space necessary in order to exercise in a safe and progressive manner. We are also uniquely qualified to work with high school, college, and former athletes to resolve their back problems and return them to their highest level of function. In fact, our Bridge Program is designed to provide athletes with a tailored exercise plan that will allow them to seamlessly return to their activities following an orthopedic problem.
In addition to active therapy, our physical therapists also teach you correct posture and body mechanics. These techniques will help you avoid placing unnecessary levels of stress on your spine, as well as its discs, in order to preserve it and prevent future problems.
As a compliment to physical therapy, chiropractic care is offered at Beacon’s Summit and Wilmington locations. There is a substantial body of research which concludes that manual therapies are an effective way to treat lower back pain, neck pain, and other conditions. In fact, chiropractic care is highly recommended as an early treatment during the onset of your symptoms.
Regenerative medicine is another effective, non-surgical option for back pain that has become increasingly well known. Regenerative medicine entails precise, minimally invasive injections of a patient’s own stem cells or blood platelets and distinguishes itself from other forms of back treatment by promoting the body’s own ability to naturally to heal its muscles, tendons, ligaments, cartilage, bones, and other tissue.
The basic principle behind regenerative medicine should be familiar: When you sustain a minor cut, your cells go to work to heal your wound. When you sustain a more serious injury, a greater number of cells are involved in the healing process. By extracting the right type of cells from a highly concentrated region of the body and injecting them into the area where they will be most beneficial, your body will be more effective at naturally healing itself. Also, because ultrasound is used to locate the optimal injection site, you can be confident that the procedure is conducted with the highest level of precision and care.
Platelet rich plasma procedures and stem cell treatments are just a few of the regenerative medicines available. A physician can identify both the source of your problem and which treatment is most appropriate for treating it.
Experience Back Improvements with Beacon
Even though we only covered a few treatments, you have many options for treating your back pain.
At Beacon Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine, our physicians, physician assistants, physical therapists, and orthopedic specialists work side-by-side in order to provide a complete continuum of care. With over two decades serving Greater Cincinnati and a specialization in orthopedic and spine care, our team can diagnose your condition, design an effective treatment plan, and guide you towards recovery. Request an appointment at any one of our convenient locations throughout Greater Cincinnati.
Our team at Beacon Orthopaedics will ensure that you experience life without back pain.