Chronic lower back pain and how to help reduce it
Most cases of back pain are acute and will resolve within a few weeks. But if you’ve been living with consistent, untreated back pain lasting for at least three months, you likely need to see a back pain specialist, says Dr. Anand. This is because chronic pain is actually a complex condition and is largely neurological, says Dr. Hanscom, which is why a multifaceted treatment plan is usually called for.
Some of the recommendations you may hear include:
Apply warm heat
Heat dilates blood vessels, allowing more blood flow to the area and loosening muscles while enhancing flexibility, explains Dr. Anand. He recommends that you apply heat before exercise to avoid injury due to stiffness. Just don’t apply it for longer than 20 minutes, and moist heat is more effective than dry heat, he adds. Try these ThermaCare Advanced Back Pain Therapy Heatwraps. Wear one up to 8 hours at a time for up to 16 hours of heated pain relief support.
The stretches and poses may help lengthen your spinal vertebrae as well as strengthen the spine and protect it from future injury, says Dr. Anand. A 2017 study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that people with chronic lower back pain who did 12 weekly sessions of yoga reported improvements in physical function and pain reduction and were less likely to need to take painkillers after a year. Yoga may be as effective as standard physical therapy in treating moderate to severe lower back pain.
Refresh your diet
You can support spine health with anti-inflammatory foods, such as lean and plant-based proteins, veggies, whole grains, seeds, nuts, fruits and healthy oils, says Dr. Anand. And you can help promote good bone health with reliable sources of calcium, such as low-fat dairy products as well as egg yolks and saltwater fish for vitamin D.
Test your blood
You may also want to talk to your health care provider about getting your vitamin D levels tested, because low levels have been associated in certain populations with chronic pain, such as lower back pain. Lower magnesium levels may also correlate with chronic pain. If you are deficient in either, talk to your doctor about taking a supplement, such as CVS Health Vitamin D Softgels.
Very rarely, back pain can require surgery but typically only in cases of fractures, tumors, infections or what Dr. Hanscom calls “gross instability.” Other considerations include pain due to nerve involvement at the base of the spinal cord, if your back pain is causing incontinence or you have unrelenting pain that isn’t improved by any other measures.
*This content is for informational purposes only and is not medical advice. Consult with your health care provider before taking any vitamins or supplements, and prior to beginning or changing any health care practices.
*FOR VITAMINS AND SUPPLEMENTS: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.