A trip to the doctor doesn’t always have to be your first line of defense against lower back pain. You may end up spending hundreds, if not thousands, on treatments, surgeries and out-of-pocket costs—and it may all be unnecessary. In fact, about 90% of back pain episodes resolve themselves in 6 weeks or less without any medical treatment. There are several ways to alleviate your symptoms from the comfort of your own home.
Consider the following treatments before scheduling a doctor’s visit.
Ice & heat—Ice for 20 minutes at a time, several times a day—after 48 hours, switch to the same interval with a heating pad.
Go OTC—Take the recommended amount of an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medicine, such as ibuprofen or naproxen.
Swap your shoes—Back pain often starts from the ground up, so make sure your shoes are the right fit.
Ditch your mattress—If it’s more than 8 years old, sagging springs could cause lower back pain.
Load up on nutrients—A healthy diet that includes nutrients like calcium, vitamin D, magnesium and iron can have a major impact on preventing back problems and improving recovery.
Spend just a few minutes per day doing these four easy stretches to promote a healthier, more limber back.
Start on your stomach with your legs extended, put your feet together and squeeze your glutes. Place your hands flat on the floor next to your chest, then lift your chest up, stretching and straightening your arms. Pull your shoulders all the way back. Take a deep breath and hold for 20 seconds, repeating 1 more time.
Back Flexion Stretch
Lie on your back and bend your knees up with your feet flat on the ground. Slowly bring both knees up to your chest and gently hold your knees with your hands. Hold this position for 3 seconds, repeating the movement 10 times.
Knee to Chest Stretch
Lie on your back with both knees bent and both heels on the floor. Then place both hands behind one knee and pull it towards your chest.
Kneeling Lunge Stretch
Start on both knees, then move one leg forward so your foot is flat on the ground, keeping your weight evenly distributed through both hips. Place both hands on the top of your thigh and then gently lean your body forward to feel a stretch in the front of the down leg.
Always talk to your doctor before you start a new exercise routine.
When to see a doctor
Do not attempt home remedy if you’re experiencing any of the following symptoms with your back pain:
- Weight loss that you cannot explain
- Fever over 102°F
- Loss of control of your bowel or bladder
- A history of cancer
- Loss of feeling or strength and any numbness or tingling sensation in your legs
- Problems with your reflexes