9 Products to Ease Back Pain
- Be proactive to find back pain relief.They say time heals all wounds—and it also does a good job of relieving back pain. But you don’t have to sit idly by, waiting for your aches to subside. Try these back pain remedies and products to ease discomfort, support your spine, and prevent new injuries to the muscles, ligaments and bones in your back.
- 1. Lumbar Support CushionsLumbar cushions and pads can make office chairs, car seats, and even airplane rides more comfortable by reducing pressure on your spine. Choose one that fits in the small of your back, with the widest part between your lowest rib and your waist. In a pinch, a rolled-up towel will work as back support.
- 2. Back BracesBraces don’t help every type of back pain, but some people feel more comfortable while wearing them. You may find back braces especially helpful if you have weak abdominal muscles or if spinal stenosis has degenerated your spine in several areas. The most popular design is a corset-type brace that wraps around your back and stomach. Some teens with scoliosis benefit from wearing a special spine-straightening underarm brace during growth spurts.
- 3. Hot and Cold PacksIce, cold packs, or even bags of frozen vegetables can numb pain and alleviate swelling. Apply them to sore areas for up to 20 minutes several times a day. Cold works best soon after pain begins; after 2 or 3 days, switch to heat to relax tight muscles and improve blood flow. Heating lamps, hot pads, or warm baths all produce this effect. Avoid falling asleep with a heating pad to prevent burns.
- 4. Over-the-Counter MedicationsPills you can buy off the drugstore shelf, such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and naproxen (Aleve), can reduce pain, swelling and inflammation. Or, try topical pain relievers containing salicylates. You can rub these creams, ointments or gels on the skin directly over your painful muscles to ease pain and increase blood flow. Counter-irritants—sprays or creams that stimulate nerve endings—provoke feelings of warmth or cold that dull pain sensations.
- 5. Dollies and CartsWhether you’re gardening or moving, these tools can help you transport heavy loads without strain on your back. Two- or four-wheeled versions offer more stability than a wheelbarrow. If you must lift a heavy bag or box, use your leg muscles rather than your back. Or, wait until a friend or family member can help you move it safely. And always warm up with light movement and stretches first, as you would with any other type of physical activity.
- 6. Sensible ShoesNot all back pain starts in your spine. Pain and discomfort in your feet can change the way you walk, stretching the muscles and ligaments in your back past their normal range. Proper footwear can reduce this risk and keep your spine in alignment. Choose flats, or if you must wear heels, keep them under an inch high.
- 7. A SwimsuitRegular exercise keeps your weight in check, easing strain on your back. It also strengthens the muscles that support your spine. In addition to walking, swimming ranks as one of the best aerobic activities to ease back pain. Check with your doctor before starting a new swimming program—and stop if you feel pain that’s more than mild or that lasts more than 15 minutes.
- 8. TENS UnitsA transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) unit is a small device that can be very effective in relieving pain. A TENS unit is connected to sticky pads, called electrodes, that you place on your skin. The TENS unit sends electrical impulses through the electrodes to interact with nerve pathways in your body, helping to modulate or suppress pain signals in the brain. In the past, TENS units were prescribed by a doctor, but in recent years, several over-the-counter products have become available.
- 9. Pillows and MattressesHaving the right pillow under your head at night can help you sleep and wake up pain-free. You may also find putting a pillow between your knees—especially if you sleep on your side or your back—brings relief. For pregnant women, using a specially designed version called the Ozzlo pillow at night may alleviate backaches both while you sleep and the following day. Also, choose a firm mattress rather than a soft one.
Back Pain Relief | 9 Products to Ease Back Pain