Relief of chronic back pain can come in many forms—and doesn’t always require a prescription. Medications and conventional medical treatments can sometimes be augmented with a few simple measures.
Doing an activity just for yourself can also help you feel more empowered, helping dial down your stress level.
Take a look at these natural pain-relieving strategies and find out what works best for you:
- Ease morning pain.
If your back pain is intense when you wake up, consider putting a heating pad under the painful part of your back before you get out of bed. The heat warms up your muscles, eases morning stiffness, helps prevent muscle spasms upon movement, and spurs blood flow to the area.
- Get regular massages.
Massage can promote circulation, ease stress, relax muscles, and boost endorphins—the pain relievers naturally produced by the body. Some massage therapists can work in your home. If lying on a padded table sounds too painful, ask about using a massage chair instead. Research has shown that massage does more than just feel good; many people find massage actually helps reduce their back pain.1
- Have a good laugh—with yoga.
Laughter increases oxygen intake, reduces stress, and encourages production of endorphins—all of which help reduce pain naturally. Laughter yoga programs around the country are designed to help people reduce pain naturally through encouraging laughter. Combining deep breathing exercises typical of yoga with laughter exercises, this type of yoga may be an appealing option if you find other exercises too painful.
- Change your sleep position.
If you’re struggling to sleep soundly, try experimenting with different sleep positions. Sleeping in a reclining position can help reduce stress on your lower back. If this is comfortable for you, an adjustable bed may be an option. You can rent one from a medical supply company to see if it helps before you commit to a purchase. Wedge-shaped cushions are another inexpensive and easy way to see if sleeping in a reclining position helps you.
- Take a long, hot bath.
Don't underestimate the soothing effects of a hot bath for easing aches and pains. Your muscles may even relax enough to allow some stretching. While a bath is relaxing, some people have trouble falling asleep right afterward. Taking a bath two or three hours before going to bed may be a better option. To maximize the relaxation, consider using a bath cushion to support your back while you're in the tub.
- Take the plunge.
The buoyancy of the water lets you enjoy the benefits of exercise with less pain. If you prefer warmer pools, look into water exercise classes and hydrotherapy pools. Water therapy exercises are often done in water that is about 83 degrees to 88 degrees. Hydrotherapy pool temperatures are often more than 90 degrees.
- Pay it forward.
If you've found ways to cope with your situation, share your knowledge with others who are in a similar situation. Start a blog, say it on Facebook, or join online back pain forums. Helping others can pay off in a sense of accomplishment and an improved outlook.
Finding effective pain relief is usually a process of trial and error, making it worth exploring various pain relief approaches. Some people find alternatives to medication help them reduce the amount of pain medication they need.
- Kumar S, Beaton K, Hughes T. The effectiveness of massage therapy for the treatment of nonspecific low back pain: a systematic review of systematic reviews. Int J Gen Med. 2013; 6: 733–741. Published online 2013 Sep 4. doi: 10.2147/IJGM.S50243.