About 80% of us have low back pain at some point in our life, and in 75% of the cases doctors can't find any specific reason for the pain, so there is no specific surgical or medical treatment. Meaning most of the time, we just have to learn to live with it.
Back pain has perhaps been my strongest and most recurring pain, and after undergoing three major operations to stabilize my crushed lower vertebrae it just is what it is. Sometimes it hurts like @%&#. Sometimes it's better.
Two weeks ago I wrote about preventing and reducing recurring back pain, and here are my best tips for relieving chronic back pain when it's there.
NB: These are only tips based on my personal experience in treating chronic recurring pack pain that has been properly examined by a doctor. This is not medical advice. Always check with your doctor if you have new pain or before you make any changes to your treatment.
1. Start with your mind. Tell yourself its not dangerous, repeat that everyone has back pain once in a while. Force yourself to smile, calm your mind and repeat affirmations like "I'm safe. My back is stable. Everything is ok. This is going to go away really soon". Then do some deep breathing while you focus on relaxing all the muscles you can.
2. Heat works well if it a muscular pain that has no active inflammation (if you have recurring pain you know yourself which is right, ice pack or heat). Try a heat pack, hot bath or shower and wear wool close to your skin.
3. A good ointment or pain relieving balm plus whatever painkillers the doctor recommends you are essential to get the acute pain under control. If you have a TENS device now is the time to use it, if not consider getting one if you have recurring pain. Lying one one of those bed of nails mats also releases a lot of dopamine and endorphins which provide instant natural pain relief.
4. Try to keep moving if possible, gently patting your body to stimulate circulation, also stroking the skin to activate other nerves and trick your sensory system to block the pain. I have herniated discs and pinched nerves, so gentle traction therapy always helps temporarily. I do a rolling back massage and some gentle stretches as soon as I possibly can, and try working on my balance to not compensate in a way that will add increased strain on the back later. A good friend of mine completely cured her debilitating chronic back pain through yoga, though it may not be first on your to do list, consider it for prevention!
5. I've found that activating the nerves in my feet seem to distract and immediately reduce the back pain quite a bit, I don't know why. So foot treatment, foot massage, or wearing those painful spiky sandals can help relieve back pain too.
I hope some of these tips can help you next time the back pain strikes, or maybe just remind you of things you already know? As soon as the flare is over, go back to back pain prevention, support your spine and try to build strong and balanced core muscles, that way you may avert future pain flares.