How to Treat an Aching Back at Home

Back pain is so common that it affects just about everyone at some point in their lives. Whether it's a sporting injury, an accident or long term pain it's not a nice thing to go through- sitting, standing, walking and even sleeping suddenly become difficult and it can have a huge impact on your everyday life. Here are some methods that that can be helpful when back pain flares up.

Use Ice, Then Heat
After the immediate injury (or the start of your back pain) you need to treat with ice first and then heat later. This is because with any muscle strain there will be some bleeding in the tissues, applying ice will help to reduce this bleeding which reduces pain and swelling, reducing muscle spasm as well as numbing the area which should provide some pain relief. Using heat on new injury will actually increase the muscle bleeding and swelling and will make you feel worse. However after 48 hours it's safe to use heat, bringing more blood into the injured muscle at this stage will help with the healing process and is also an effective pain reliever. Reusable gel sports packs are useful they can be used hot and cold by either putting them in the freezer or microwave depending on what you need at the time. Even if you're not a sporty person they're so handy to have in your first aid kit, as it means you can effectively treat injuries should they happen. 

Topical Gels and Creams
Deep Heat and Deep Ice topical lotions should be followed in the same way as above, by treating first with ice then heat after forty eight hours. Another handy product to have in your stash is Arnica gel, this is widely used for the treatment of bruises but it's a herbal remedy that can relieve pain. I find it works well when combined with massage.

Not only does a back massage feel pretty amazing but it's also a highly effective way to treat an aching back; most healthcare providers now recognise massage as legitimate method for treating lower back pain. Massaging the muscles causes them to relax which will improve your range of motion, and the improved blood circulation will help to heal the muscles more quickly. To top it off, massage causes the release of endorphins (ie. the pleasure centre in your brain) which leave you feeling not only physically but psychologically better. The only problem with back massage is you cant really do it yourself, but if you're in pain you should try and rope a friend or partner in to help.

Light Exercise
After injuring your back it's important not to rush back into hard physical activity, when the muscles aren't properly healed you're much more likely to have another injury and might even do some long term damage. However, research has shown that it's important to remain active (rather than going on bed rest) as you're likely to recover more quickly, and so light exercise is key. Things like yoga, pilates and walking; swimming is also a good option as it doesn't put uneccesary stress on your spine. I find there are certain exercises that aggravate my back and always make it feel worse and so try to avoid them as much as possible, and go with much more back friendly activities instead.

Do you have any tips for treating back pain at home?