February 17, 2020 Once a person sustains an injury or experiences pain in their back, they may have to live with it for a long time. Back pain is known for being chronic, which makes performing daily activities very difficult. Surgery is used in only a minority of cases, meaning that thousands of people are in the position of living with back pain every day. “Chronic back pain becomes a problem any time the area is injured, and as people get older, they may find they have more pain” says Dr. Kris Parchuri of the Spine & Orthopedic Specialists in Tulsa. “It is important that people understand that they do not have to simply live with it. There are many solutions for chronic back pain and we advise our patients on all of them.” Sleep Well There is a direct link between sleep and a person’s overall health, and sleep can help with back pain, as well. To alleviate pressure from the back, it is best to sleep on your side. Placing a pillow between your knees will also allow the spine to maintain a neutral position and relieve the pressure placed on the back. Firm mattresses are much better for the back than soft mattresses, as they will provide better support. Proper Posture is Important Poor posture does not only contribute to back pain, but it can also make it worse. This is particularly true when a person sits for a long period of time. It is important to sit up straight, relax the shoulders, and place feet flat on the floor. This can also relieve pressure from the back and alleviate pain. Medicate when Necessary Some medications, such as NSAIDs, acetaminophen, and muscle relaxers are very helpful when treating chronic back pain. Patients can purchase these over-the-counter, or they may obtain a prescription from their doctor when the pain becomes very difficult to manage. Physical Therapy Many people do not understand that the way they sit, stand, and walk all affect their back health. Physical therapy is an easy way to relieve back pain because a therapist can advise on the way people can move to avoid hurting the back. Therapists can also show patients specialized exercises that help strengthen a person’s core so it is better able to support the back. Get Moving Historically, doctors have prescribed bed rest for back pain. Now, it is known that this is one of the worst solutions for back pain. Too much rest can place excess pressure on the back, so it is best to remain on bed rest for just one or two days. Instead, low impact exercises such as swimming, walking, and yoga can bring great relief. Ice and Heat Ice and heat work on back pain in different ways. Ice works to reduce pain and inflammation while heat will increase blood flow to the area. When icing the area, wrap an ice pack in a towel to protect the skin and apply the ice for only 20 minutes at a time. After a few days of icing the area, heat can be applied using a heating pad or hot water bottle. Again, heat should only be used for 20 minutes at a time, and no one should ever sleep with a heating pad.