Staying at home means it can be tough to see a doctor, chiropractor, spine specialist, or neurosurgeon to handle back pain, especially when it tends to flare up at the most inconvenient times. There are still options, here’s what to do. What options are available when you want to see a doctor about back pain, but getting to the clinic can be a challenge.
Fortunately, there are a variety of tools to handle back pain that can provide some relief.
- Ice is a great place to start to relieve pain.
- Hot/Warm baths combined with Epsom salt
- Microwavable hot packs can help
- Over-the-counter pain medications like Motrin are one of the best medicines for non-traumatic back pain inflammation.
Heat Packs/Heat Therapy
Heat therapy promotes vasodilation and draws nutrient-rich blood into the targeted tissues. Increased blood flow delivers oxygen and nutrients and cell waste is removed. The warmth decreases muscle spasms, relaxes tense muscles, relieves pain, and increases range of motion.
Superficial heat is available in different forms, which include:
- Hot and moist compresses
- Dry or moist heating pads
- Commercial chemical/gel packs
Remember heat packs in any form should be wrapped in a towel to prevent burns, as a punctured heat pack should be discarded, as the chemical agent/gel can burn skin.
Cold Packs/Cold Therapy
Cold therapy produces vasoconstriction. This slows blood circulation, which reduces inflammation, muscle spasms, and pain. Superficial cold is also available in different forms, which include:
- Commercial cold packs
- Ice cubes
- Iced towels/compresses
The application of cold therapy is usually less than 15 minutes, as the effects of cold are known to last longer than heat. Cold packs or ice should never be applied directly to the skin.
A towel, should be placed between the cold object and the skin surface to prevent any skin and nerve damage. A punctured cold pack should be discarded, as the chemical agent/gel will also burn the skin.
It might be hard to believe that a virtual video visit can work to handle back pain. On a video call, a chiropractor is unable to physically palpate the sore areas and measure the range of motion and strength. However, this should not discourage you from scheduling a virtual appointment.
Telemedicine, without a physical examination, can be highly beneficial. A chiropractor can start the process of ordering tests, like MRI, X-ray, etc. Even if the pain is tolerable, meaning the kind that doesn’t need medicine or imaging tests, this should not be an excuse to skip an orthopedic visit.
With telemedicine, a chiropractor can still give advice, show back stretches, exercises, order back pain supplements, and talk about the risks and benefits of treatments available to try on your own.
With chronic low back pain, chances are your chiropractor suggested physical therapy or PT. Now is the time to bring back those PT exercises, especially with a back-pain flare-up.
Low-back pain or any back pain for that matter with no neurological issues, could mean that a stretching and exercise program is all that is needed. Find out if your chiropractor or a physical therapist offers other options:
- Patient portal communication or e-visits.
- Uploads of illustrated handouts describing how to do various stretches and exercises.
- Remote evaluation. The individual submits pictures or a video of their movements for personalized feedback, which the chiropractor or physical therapist evaluates and provides.
Evidence shows that being active is better than resting. Moving increases the blood flow to the muscles, which helps with muscle spasms, trigger points, tense muscles/ligaments, and other issues.
Pilates focuses on controlled movement, breathing, and stretching. A review found Pilates can be a highly effective and beneficial approach to handle back pain and related discomfort. Check out beginner Pilates videos. Be sure to avoid any move/s that cause pain, worsens the existing pain, or generate new pain.
A review found that yoga can help improve mobility and decrease pain. If this is a new practice, start with gentle yoga or restorative yoga.
Going for a walk is easy, accessible, and is beneficial for the spine. Walking can be as effective as non-drug interventions in decreasing pain and discomfort in chronic low-back pain. Simple movements along with rollers and massagers can handle back pain as well. These include:
- Self-massage with a tennis ball
- Foam rolling
- Hand-held massager
- McKenzie Method, comprised of gentle stretching exercises
These strategies and approaches can become the methods and techniques for the relief of existing back-pain in the absence of a doctor, chiropractor, or physical therapist.