Article reviewed and approved by Dr. Ibtissama Boukas, physician specializing in family medicine
How to relieve back pain quickly? This is a question that I regularly receive from my patients.
If you are also wondering, I have good news for you! In this article, we cover 36 (yes, 36!) therapeutic approaches currently available to relieve back pain.
As much to warn you, I do not share any “miracle” solution allowing to eliminate your pains instantly. Moreover, some of these approaches relieve the symptoms without necessarily treating the real cause of your back pain.
Not ideal, you might say. But temporary relief is often appreciated, especially when the pain is so intolerable that it affects our quality of life (for example, after a lumbago).
Note: Before embarking on any treatment approach, I strongly advise you to consult a physician. Above all, you must ensure that your condition does not require urgent medical intervention. If you have one of the following symptoms, see a doctor right away.
1. Take medicine
This advice, you already know it. Between anti-inflammatories, painkillers, muscle relaxants or relaxants, anti-epileptics, there are many drugs that can relieve your symptoms fairly quickly.
However, beware of side effects and the risk of addiction. Be sure to consult a doctor to choose the right medications, and adjust the doses according to your condition.
To learn more about taking medication for your back, see the following article.
2. Consume vitamin D
A blood test will determine if your vitamin D level is below normal. If so, a doctor might prescribe vitamin D supplements.
There are also natural strategies to increase your vitamin D levels. (15 minutes of daily tanning in the sun, seafood, mushrooms, etc).
To learn all about vitamin D deficiency, see the following article.
3. Apply ice and/or heat
Heat or ice after back pain? Know that there is not really a 100% correct answer.
To learn all about the use of ice and heat in the light of the latest scientific research (including practical applications), see the following article.
4. Apply a lumbar belt (SPAY!)
La lumbar belt can be useful to give you a feeling of lumbar support, and thus relieve your back.
However, it also comes with its own set of drawbacks. It limits the movements of the Lumbar spine, reduces the movement of the abdomen useful for breathing, and makes the trunk muscles "dependent" and somewhat lazy.
For this reason, use the belt only when the pain is more intense, or when you have to perform a very physically demanding task. And above all, try to wean off its use gradually so as not to create a feeling of long-term dependence.
5. Avoid Prolonged Rest
If you think bed rest will end your back pain, you're wrong.
Prolonged rest is harmful in the long term according to several scientific studies. This comes from the fact that physical inactivity has disastrous consequences on the back, and health in general.
To find out how rest might aggravate your back pain instead of relieving it, see the following article.
6. Do not resume too quickly
Well, I said before that you should avoid prolonged rest to optimize the healing of your back.
But this does not mean that you should act as if nothing had happened, and continue your activities even if your pain worsens. (Athletes and seasoned athletes will recognize each other!).
You may have to wait before resuming your Sunday run. Or miss the next game of tennis. Or even wait a bit before starting your big spring cleaning.
In short, you have to adjust your activities according to your symptoms and your condition. Move, yes, but in the right way!
7. Exercise (THE RIGHT WAY!)
Exercise and physical activity have been shown to be one of the best solutions for back pain.
On the other hand, the same exercise can improve the condition or even aggravate your pain. It all depends on its execution, intensity, frequency, etc.
Un health professional (like a physio or a physio) will know how to adjust these parameters in order to get the best benefits.
To understand how to exercise with back pain, see the following article.
Note: For a safe, step-by-step program that takes your symptoms into consideration, try this 21 day program against back pain (exercises, stretching, advice).
8. Encourage cardiovascular activity
Cardiovascular activity has several effects on blood circulation, oxygenation of your tissues, brain, mood, the health of your back, and overall health.
Activities as simple as swimming, cycling, walking can help a lot (again, if done in a safe and progressive setting!).
To find out about the sports and activities that can help relieve your back pain, see the following article.
9. Promote a comfortable sleeping position
Many people complain of low back pain at night (or in the morning when they wake up).
By adopting a better sleeping position, we can thus optimize our night and thus reduce back pain.
10. Improve the quality of your sleep
Poor quality sleep will make your back pain worse. And lower back pain will disturb your sleep. We therefore fall into a vicious circle from which it is difficult to escape.
The solution? Incorporate good sleep habits. This begins before you even go to bed, by setting up an environment conducive to relaxation.
No caffeine or excessive lights before sleep. Control room brightness and temperature. Invest in a quality mattress.
Advice to insomniacs: For 9 tips to help you sleep better at night, see the following article.
11. Manage your stress
No, back pain is not "in the head" in the sense that you imagine it. But no one can deny the link between stress and back pain. It's even scientifically demonstrated.
Stress will increase muscle tension, release "negative" hormones, and increase the sensitivity of your nervous system.
By managing your stress (family, work, etc.), you put all the chances of healing on your side.
Easy to say, I know. But we can always try!
What if I told you that people who suffer from low back pain breathe DIFFERENTLY from those who have no pain according to some studies?
Likewise, it is scientifically proven that breathing exercises could help relieve your back pain.
To know everything about the link between breathing and back pain, see the following article.
No, meditation will not make you an esoteric being. No one is asking you to become a yoga guru.
Meditation is also gaining popularity for its benefits on overall health and stress. Moreover, there are several scientific evidence showing improvement in back pain following a meditation program.
14. Lose a few pounds
Although the studies do not seem unanimous on the subject, it could be that obesity is related to back pain.
To determine if your excess weight has a link with your back pain (only if you feel concerned), why not start by losing 3 kilos and assess the impact on your symptoms?
Here is an article allowing you to know the link between the overweight, obesity and back pain.
15. Adopt an anti-inflammatory diet
Although there is not much scientific evidence on this subject, it is easy to conceive that a anti-inflammatory diet can reduce the overall level of inflammation in the body, and indirectly relieve back pain.
Some foods increase the level of overall inflammation, while others decrease it. The idea is therefore to maximize these healthy foods that have a positive role on inflammation, while trying to limit the intake of harmful foods.
To know everything about the anti-inflammatory diet (and the foods to promote), see the following article.
16. Apply a tennis ball
Some people cannot afford to consult a therapist who can reduce their muscle tension.
With this in mind, a tennis ball can be an ally of choice. The idea is to apply a specific and sustained pressure on the sensitive points to cause a relaxation at this level. The points of tension causing low back pain are generally found around the lumbar region and the hips.
Basically, just position the ball on the painful spot and apply continuous pressure using the wall or floor (for about 1 minute). The sensation should be strong but tolerable. If you wince in pain, you should definitely reduce the pressure.
Note: This technique is taken from the guide "15 self-treatment techniques to relieve your back".
17. Apply lumbar traction
Certain lumbar conditions respond favorably to lumbar traction.
This consists of applying a force aimed at stretching the spine in a longitudinal axis.
Note however that this technique is not effective in the long term according to scientific studies. Rather, it is intended to relieve you temporarily.
The concept is simple: When you are lying on your back with your legs stretched out, someone has to grab you by the ankles and slowly pull towards your feet. This will create a force allowing the traction of your lumbar vertebrae via your lower limbs.
It is very important that the caregiver goes there very slowly and very gradually. You can tell him to stop pulling when you feel a comfortable stretch.
Generally, it takes about 30 seconds, and repeat as many times as necessary.
Note: This technique is taken from the guide "15 self-treatment techniques to relieve your back".
18. Use a TENS
TENS is a machine that uses a low voltage electrical current through electrodes to relieve pain.
The proposed mechanism is pain reduction via inhibition of the pain message (gate theory) and the production of endorphins.
These relatively affordable machines won't necessarily correct the cause of your low back pain, but can be used as an alternative to medication to reduce pain.
For example, some patients prefer to relieve their symptoms with a TENS instead of taking an anti-inflammatory.
To learn more about TENS, see the following article.
19. Go see a physio
It is often said that physical activity is one of the best solutions for curing back pain. The problem is, many people don't know where to start when it comes to exercise.
The physiotherapist is your ally of choice to determine the right exercises according to your condition, as well as the right dosage.
He will also know how to use manual techniques and other analgesic modalities to help you relieve your symptoms.
20. Go see an osteo
An osteo is often consulted to relieve back pain. By using manual and visceral techniques, he will know how to reduce your pain, reduce your tensions and improve your movements.
To know the role of the osteopath in the management of back pain, consult next article.
21. Go see a chiropractor
Many think that chiropractors will put their displaced vertebrae "at a good place". It's wrong. The vertebrae cannot be misaligned in the sense that you imagine it.
Certainly, the chiropractor often uses joint manipulations to relieve their patients. But the "crack" often heard following manipulation comes rather from a change in pressure inducing audible cavitation.
If cracking your back makes you feel good, a chiropractor could definitely help. But if he tells you that your vertebrae are out of place and that you absolutely have to “put them back in place” to reduce the pain, beware!
22. Go see an acupuncturist
Acupuncture is a form of Chinese medicine used for millennia that uses dry needles.
Although not supported by much quality scientific evidence, many patients see relief from their symptoms following one session.
It can be used by those who are not afraid of needles, and who are looking for natural methods to relieve their back pain.
To learn more about acupuncture as a form of alternative medicine, see the following article.
23. Go get a massage
A good massage will reduce muscle tension contributing to back pain.
Obviously, this approach (like all passive approaches) should be complemented by a active approach including strengthening exercises, cardiovascular activity, etc.
24. Apply cupping
From a scientific point of view, the studies examining their effectiveness are few in number and of poor quality.
On the other hand, this technique is unique in the sense that the suction cups create a negative pressure via the suction effect, allowing a relaxation and a different stimulation of the nervous system. No form of massage can reproduce the same effect.
If ever conventional massage no longer provides a therapeutic effect, then you could consider cupping.
However, be sure to consult a qualified therapist to avoid risks and adverse effects (sores, infection, dizziness, etc.). This technique could also be contraindicated if you ever have skin problems.
To learn more about cupping, see the following article.
25. Go see a shrink
We have already talked about the deleterious effect of stress on back pain, and the importance of managing stress to indirectly relieve its symptoms.
If you observe a link between your pain and your state of mind, why not consult a psychiatrist?
A healthy mind in a healthy body, it is often said. The shrink will be able to help you and equip you to find this much desired balance!
To know everything about the role of the shrink in the presence of back pain, see the following article.
26. Try hypnosis
I see you raise an eyebrow. Hypnosis to relieve my back pain?
Again, let's turn to science. Several scientific studies have demonstrated a favorable effect of hypnosis on lower back pain, and chronic pain in general.
How it works? Hypnosis will attempt to alter an individual's perception of their back pain and thus modulate that perception to make the symptoms more bearable. It will therefore act on the emotional dimension of pain.
To know 15 interesting facts about hypnosis, see the following article.
Yes yes, you read that right!
Laughing releases hormones that have a beneficial effect on pain (by temporarily increasing the pain tolerance threshold). It's even scientifically demonstrated.
Laughing is also associated with good humor, pleasant evenings, comedy movies...in short, pleasure. And when you have back pain, you particularly need it!
Let yourself go, and have a good laugh!
28. Adapt your workstation
If your back pain seems to be getting worse after a day at work, your work environment may be to blame.
In addition to the seat, which can be adjusted for more comfort, it is even more important to vary the positions adopted during the day in order to avoid back pain.
Un Occupational therapist is a professional who will be able to assess your work environment and offer you advice aimed at improving the health of your back at work!
29. Stay active during work hours
You may be surprised to learn that the perfect posture does not exist! For this reason, it is better to vary the position of your spine instead of seeking an ideal posture (even if your back is as straight as a post!).
Admittedly, it is sometimes impossible to get up from your chair regularly when you are at work. So why not include exercises to do while seated?
The following article offers exercises for straighten your back which will take you less than a minute of your time, and which can be done from your work chair.
30. Try changing your shoes
Some people suffer from back pain after a long walk. Although there are several possible causes, a bad pair of shoes could contribute to the pain syndrome.
If walking increases your symptoms, try another pair of shoes. For example, arch support or a light heel may relieve your symptoms.
In short, the idea is to use a different pair from the previous one to see if it will have a positive influence on your back pain.
31. Quit (or limit) smoking
Note to smoker. In addition to the 1001 other harmful effects of cigarettes (that you already know!), I would like to tell you that your back pain could be related to tobacco.
What is certain is that cigarettes do not create an environment conducive to the optimal healing of your back.
To know 3 disastrous consequences of tobacco on back pain, see the following article.
Here's hoping these arguments will add weight to the ones you already know about finally quitting smoking!
32. Set goals
You probably know that relieving your back is not necessarily an easy task. You have to be patient, progressive, proactive, and determined.
And that requires a lot of motivation, questioning, and structure!
Who says structure says objectives. More specifically, it will be necessary to set goals to visualize the light at the end of the tunnel, and to celebrate our successes (however small!). This step is essential, and should not be taken lightly.
Using the acronym SMART enables the achievement of specific, measurable, acceptable, realistic, and time-bound goals for back healing.
If you want to set goals to finally put an end to your low back pain, see the following article.
33. Keep a journal
What's a diary got to do with back pain?
For you, it will allow you to better understand your pain, and the trend of your symptoms.
For your healthcare professional, this will allow him to better understand the progression of your condition over time.
Either way, a journal might serve as motivation, and improve communication with your therapist or doctor.
If you want to benefit from a framework allowing you to keep a diary for your back pain (in addition to 5 benefits of keeping a daily diary), see the following article.
34. Avoid social isolation
When we have back pain, our first instinct is to isolate ourselves. The morale is not there, and the idea of participating in a social activity is not at all appealing.
The problem is that social isolation can lead to depression in the long run. Without necessarily acting as if nothing had happened, it would be appropriate to adapt your social activities instead of giving them up completely.
Choose a restaurant where the seats are comfortable. Ask your friends to bring dinner next time. Host a movie night in your own living room to get you up regularly.
To benefit from 5 tips to avoid social isolation despite your back pain, see the following article.
35. Educate yourself
An educated patient greatly increases their chances of recovering from the back.
Minimal research tells us that these remedies shouldn't be the norm, and that there are far less invasive strategies for back pain relief.
Looking to educate yourself about your back pain? So much the better, it is precisely our mission to Lumbafit.
36. Stay positive (and surround yourself with positive people!)
The prognosis for back pain is generally favorable. That's a fact.
And even if your situation doesn't seem to be progressing, know that there is always something to be done to help you get better.
I know it's not always easy, but staying positive will help you fight your back pain better.
And above all, know that you are not alone.
In this article, we've covered 36 tips to relieve back pain quickly.
Normally, these approaches should be integrated into a comprehensive approach that takes into consideration your medical history, your diagnostic your preferences, etc. Of course, consult a health professional remains the best approach in case of low back pain.
On the other hand, I dare to hope that you realize how vast the treatment of back pain is (I offer you 36 tips here, but there are dozens more!)
If a particular approach or therapist hasn't brought you relief, that's not the end of the story!
Keep fighting, adopt a positive and proactive attitude, surround yourself with the right people, and be patient.
Healing from the back is not always an easy task. But it is possible. And you can do it.
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