As we age, we’re more likely to experience back pain. According to Harvard Health’s special report on men’s health past the age of 50, back pain affects roughly four in five Americans at some point, regardless of sex.
As we get older, the bones and joints in our lower back begin to alter and our discs become less flexible, making them more prone to tearing or rupturing. As discs wear out, they have the potential to become fragmented, which causes pain. Herniated discs, where a disc shifts out of place, and low back pain from straining or overuse, also can trigger chronic pain.
While there are several different root causes for why back pain occurs, it generally means something is off-kilter in the way your muscles, spinal joints, discs and nerves fit together. Lifestyle triggers, such as slouching over your computer, lifting heavy objects and wearing high heels can trigger back pain. Being overweight, smoking or not exercising can also mess with your back.
Depending on the severity of your back pain and the source, you might be able to remedy it right at home with techniques like cold and heat therapy, including using the best heating pad for back pain you can find.
Move, Stretch and Strengthen
While it might sound counterintuitive, moving while your back feels stiff can help resolve it. A brisk 30-minute walk, three times a week, is recommended by physicians. Practicing yoga, tai chi or pilates first thing in the morning, which helps warm up your body for the rest of the day and strengthen supportive muscles, like your abdomen, is also beneficial.
Soothe Aching Muscles With Ice, Heat
Heating pads can be effective at reducing inflammation by promoting blood flow and forcing muscles to relax. This can help with the buildup of lactic acid, which occurs during exercise. Ice packs can also be beneficial. Sometimes, switching between ice and heat in 20-minute increments works best.
While there are several types on the market, the best heating pad for back pain will be easy to use and hassle-free, but, most importantly, effective in relieving your pain. Unfortunately, some heating pads are too small for the targeted areas while others might be too large, so it’s important to get the right one for your body’s needs.
For example, if you’re looking for the best heating pad for back pain specifically, you’ll want one that will reach across the entire area that’s causing you trouble. You might also want to consider a heating pad that’s either electric or microwavable, which eliminates the need to fumble with hot water.
If your pad is looking a little worse for wear, you might as well replace it. Fire safety experts recommend always replacing any electric heating pads that are at least 10 years old, even if they still work.
Good posture is important to maintain a healthy back, keeping your bones and joints in alignment. In the days of working from home, where ergonomic-rated chairs and office equipment might not just be sitting around, it’s even more important to mind your posture during long days on the computer.
Take a Quick, Temporary Fix
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen, like Advil or Motrin, or naproxen, like Aleve, can relieve back pain. Your primary care doctor can tell you which one is right for you.
Outside of the house, specialized therapies might also offer relief, such as acupuncture, spinal manipulation, yoga, tai chi and massage.
If your pain doesn’t improve after three to four days, no matter what you do, it’s time to talk to your physician.