Given that about 80 percent of the population will experience back pain at some point, it’s no surprise that there are so many back pain relief products available. The question is: which ones are right for you?
For many patients, back pain treatment is a matter of preference. Some people prefer to avoid pain medications and their associated side effects, while others have success with them. Regardless of what approach you typically take, it’s a good idea to understand all of your options for treating back pain.
Here are several back pain relief products that you might consider for your own treatment:
1. Pain Medication
Severe back pain might warrant prescription pain medication, especially in the first few days after sustaining an injury. Over-the-counter NSAIDs are also good options for relieving pain and addressing the inflammation that occurs in injured tissues. NSAIDs work to reduce pain and swelling by blocking the effects of two enzymes that play a key role in the body’s natural inflammatory response. However, like many medications, they can come with potential side effects, such as gastrointestinal issues, high blood pressure, and allergic reactions. Be sure to speak to your healthcare professional before you begin any treatment.
2. Topical Analgesics
Because orally administered NSAIDs and prescription medications affect your entire body, many people opt for topical treatments to help relieve pain. These might include creams that have active ingredients such as capsaicin, menthol, or an NSAID-like ibuprofen. These topical remedies deliver the medication directly to the area that is in pain. Some active ingredients create a cooling sensation that temporarily numbs pain, some temporarily block nerve activity to reduce the sensation of pain, and others dilate capillaries to increase blood flow to the area.
3. Heating Pads
Many people like to use heating pads to soothe back pain. When applied to the body, therapeutic heat increases blood flow. This can help accelerate the healing process by bringing more oxygen and nutrients to the damaged tissues. However, heat should not be used while the body is in active stages of inflammation because the increased blood flow can actually exacerbate swelling.
4. Compression Braces
Back braces that provide consistent compression can help relieve pain by providing additional support to the muscles that support the spine. The extra support reduces stress on the muscles and other tissues, giving them an opportunity to heal. Compression therapy can also help prevent swelling after a back injury because it helps prevent excess fluids from building up in the affected area.
5. Inversion Tables
If compression on the spine is a contributing factor to your back pain, an inversion table might help. Inversion tables work by reversing the forces of gravity, which are constantly pressing down to compress your spine. While your body is inverted, the pressure is relieved, helping to reduce pain.
6. Cryotherapy Systems
The combination of therapeutic cold and active compression can be found in cryotherapy systems which continuously pump cold water through a body-conforming wrap, maintaining a consistent temperature, while simultaneously delivering intermittent pneumatic compression. The application of cold reduces pain by slowing down nerve activity, and active compression reduces swelling by pumping excess fluid away from the injured area. These two effects work together to promote cellular repair, thus accelerating the healing process.
7. Rapid Contrast Therapy
Typically used in a physical therapy setting, rapid contrast therapy capitalizes on the benefits of both heat and cold by quickly alternating between the two. Therapeutic cold relieves pain and helps slow down cell death, while heat promotes blood flow to bring vital nutrients and oxygen to muscles and other tissues.
If you are currently exploring back pain relief products, read our Complete Guide to a Faster Spinal and Back Injury Recovery to learn more about your options.