Self care

  1. To relieve generalized low-back pain, rest your back on the floor with your head on a pillow. Lie between the legs of a straight back chair propping your legs on a pillow over the rungs. This is also a good position for a half hour daily rest break. If you are more comfortable with your legs higher up, set the chair upright and rest them on the seat.
  2. Look for a trigger point. Have someone press hard on the trigger point with a knuckle or a cylindrical hard object like the end of a pencil. Maintain the pressure for a minute or two until the point is numb. At first this pressure can be excruciatingly painful and cause pins and needles in your arms and legs. If you can detail the trigger point and the effects of pressure, it may help your doctor treat you better.
  3. If your backache is diffuse, have someone rub the painful area and surrounding skin with ice four times a day. Without drying the skin rub until the area is numb, for 20 to 30 minutes. Use crushed ice in a pillow case or other cloth bag.
  4. Heat may work if cold fails. Take a 10-minute hot fomentation 2-3 times a day-not more because excessive heat can make your pain worse.
  5. Two or three days’ complete bed rest may be helpful. You may be more comfortable in bed lying flat on your back with a pillow placed under your knees, or you may find relief lying on your side with your knees bent. A hard bed generally helps-you can put a sheet of plywood under your mattress, or put the mattress on the floor. Complete bed rest means getting up only to go to the bathroom.
  6. A back-belt is often useful to relieve a mild back problem. Wear one for a long drive or airplane flight. Spinal supports, which are heavier and more rigid than belts, may ease severe back problems.
  7. Physicians often recommend massage and mild analgesics. Tranquilizers may be prescribed to combat anxiety and depression. In unusual cases, when back pain is due to a skeletal disorder like a slipped disc or spinal canal stenosis, surgery may be needed.
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