Try thinking about a time that you were in pain, what details do you remember? You probably remember the exact place you were at when the pain started. You definitely can remember what caused you to be in pain and how you made the pain stop.

For many of us, using medication, both over the counter and prescribed, is how we get out of pain. But in the case of back pain, is using medication the best treatment?

In this article, we will discuss the potential side effects of some common medications used to reduce back pain. We will also discuss how to manage chronic back pain.

Effects of long-term medication use

It is always important to consult with your physician prior to taking medication. This is because some medication interactions can cause adverse effects.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are one of the most common forms of medication used to reduce back pain. Forms of this medication include Ibuprofen, Aleve, Motrin, and Advil. NSAIDs help lower inflammation, which can lower pain. Common side effects associated with long-term use of this type of medication include:

  • Stomach bleeding
  • Ulcers
  • Kidney damage 
  • Iron loss
  • Blurred Vision
  • Headaches

In addition to these side effects, long-term use of these types of medication can result in increased tolerance. This means you may notice no change in pain with your normal dose of medication. To feel pain relief, you would need to increase the amount of medication you normally take.

Taking medication can potentially get you out of pain, not keep it from coming back. Instead of using only medication to get out of back pain, try these techniques to help you get out of back pain.

Managing chronic back pain

If you are in chronic back pain or notice a sudden change in your back pain, consult your physician. When in chronic back pain, your pain level may fluctuate from high to low. If you are in a higher level of pain, use the tips from our how to get out of back pain blog to lower your pain level. 

Reducing your pain level does not fix the underlying issues that caused your chronic back pain to occur. Addressing these issues is the best way to keep back pain from being a permanent part of your life.

Here are some habits to practice that will help to get you out of chronic back pain.

Practice good posture 

Sitting with good posture will help to evenly distribute the weight of your upper body throughout your spine. Follow the  5 Steps to Better Posture to help reduce stress on your back throughout the day.

Five steps to better posture

  1. Find neutral spine
  2. Contract your core
  3. Lift your chest
  4. Drop your shoulders
  5. Lengthen the back of your neck

Start stretching

Regular stretching can increase your range of motion and flexibility, which in turn decreases the chances of strain on your back. Since we sit for extended periods of time, a great stretch to begin working into your routine is a hip flexor stretch.

Set aside 5-10 minutes each day. Stretching for just 5-10 minutes each day can help increase your flexibility. Try these five easy stretches to ease back pain

Try stress-reduction techniques

Life is stressful. Many times we let stress overwhelm us which can lead to an array of issues within our body, and eventually lead to back pain. Use breathing techniques such as belly breathing and cadence breathing to reduce stress.

How to belly breathe

  1. Lie flat on your back with a pillow under your knees and head, so your spine is supported on the floor.
  2. Close your eyes, place your hands on your belly, and relax. 
  3. Breathe through your mouth, and begin to let your body sink into the floor.
  4. Spend ~1 minute getting used to how this feels.
  5. After 1 minute, focus on filling your belly with air, then let it go with a big ‘sigh’.
  6. Begin to focus your breath into your rib cage and chest instead of your belly. 
  7. Feel the difference between where you are placing your breath.
  8. Repeat belly breath, chest breath, etc. for 5-10 minutes.

Keep moving 

Most of our day is spent sitting, this can cause stress on the spine. By standing up and moving you can decompress your spine and keep blood circulating. Begin incorporating more movement into your day with these tips.

Start small. On your first few days, you may only be able to take a short walk around your home, that’s fine! Listen to your body and begin walking more, as you are able to tolerate. 

Measure your progress. Whether it’s for a specific amount of time or distance, keep track of how much you’re walking each day. Not only will this show you the progress you’re making, but it can serve as motivation to keep moving.

Drink plenty of water

Water is essential to back health due because it promotes lubrication of the discs that cushion your spine. You should aim to get ½-1 ounce of water per every pound you weigh (so if you weigh 150 lbs, your goal should be between 75-150 oz of water per day). 

Start your day with 16 ounces of water. Add a 16-ounce glass of water to your morning routine to start your day off hydrated. Not only is this a way to add in more water, but it also can help you feel more energized and ready to take on your day. 

These are just a few habits you can begin incorporating into your normal routine to help get you out of chronic back pain. Learn more about how to build a plan for adding in healthy habits in our behavior-change blog.

Personalizing your treatment plan

Medication may help lower your back pain temporarily, but building in healthy habits to keep back pain away is the best way to treat back pain. 

At Telespine, we teach simple and effective exercises and daily habits to keep your back healthy. We know taking the first step in changing habits is always the hardest. Start taking simple steps today to begin reducing your back pain with the Telespine program. Click here for more information. 


Resources

Steffens D, Maher CG, Pereira LS, et al. Prevention of low back pain a systematic review and meta-analysis. JAMA. 2016;176(2): 199-208.

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