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Taking Care of Your Back: What You Can Do at Home

360 Back and Spine Center provides comprehensive treatment of back and neck conditions, including decompression, fusions, and scoliosis. Using a conservative, minimally-invasive approach, we partner with our patients and ensure they have all of the information they need to make an informed decision about their treatment.

Back pain, regardless of where in the back it occurs, can drain you both of energy and the desire to participate in everyday activities. However, back pain doesn’t have to keep you immobile; there are many things you can do to take care of your back at home.

Back Pain from Sleeping

Many people experience back pain when they sleep and wonder why. All that’s needed to answer this question is to consider your posture. Is your spine in a healthy position all day, or do you find yourself slouching? Are you thrusting your neck forward instead of ensuring your ears are positioned over your shoulders? These are just two of many examples of unnatural spine position.

Woman dealing with Lower Back Pain

If your spine is in an unnatural position day after day, you will eventually begin to feel discomfort or pain when sleeping. The solution to this is to adopt the right sitting and standing positions during your regular day, and then support a natural spine position as you sleep.

Ergonomics Can Help with Back Pain at Work

Thinking ergonomically is the best way to maintain a natural spine position, as well as help you to have better posture if you sit for the majority of your work day. A kneeling chair will support your spine automatically, both because it is backless and because it allows you to support your sitting position with your knees.

Because the chair provides an enhanced angle between your torso and lower body, there is more space for the muscle tissues in the pelvis to move. When these muscles connected to the lower back are able to move, tension and pain in the lower back can be relieved.

Finally, after sitting in a kneeling chair over the long term, you will adopt a proper posture automatically, as well as continue to adopt this posture whenever you are not sitting. The longer you can maintain proper posture, the less pain you may experience.

Maintaining Spine Position While Sleeping

If your back, neck, and spine are improperly positioned while sleeping, you are very likely to experience pain. There are different solutions to taking care of your back while you sleep, depending on your regular sleeping position.

  • If You Sleep on Your Side

Improper side sleeping is a common cause of back pain. Proper position is to ensure your legs are bent enough to avoid arching the back, but not bent so much as to cause the back to be rounded.

The shoulders are another aspect of side sleeping that can cause both back and neck pain. You should avoid hunching your shoulders and bending your head downward or tilting the head back too much. Instead, you can relieve back and neck pain at home by ensuring your neck is straight with the chin slightly pointed down.

If you are still experiencing back pain when sleeping, place a thick pillow between the knees. This can relieve both pressure and pain.

  • If You Sleep on Your Back

Lower back pain is common for those who sleep on their backs, usually because the hip muscles are tight. In order to relieve pressure on this area and relax the hip muscles, a pillow can be placed beneath the knees. In addition to relieving pressure on the lower back, it’s also important to ensure that the head is resting at the same level as the spine, and not below, as this can cause neck pain.

  • If You Sleep on Your Stomach

Sleeping on your stomach can cause misalignment of the spine at the lower back, causing pain. Here, too, it’s recommended that you use a pillow while sleeping. However, it should be placed beneath your stomach/groin area. This will help to support and push the lower back up and into proper alignment with the spine.

Is There an Ideal Sleeping Position for Back Pain?

Because the majority of your back and spine is in the proper position when sleeping on your back, this tends to be the ideal position where the goal is to relieve back pain. Not only that, but sleeping on your back may allow you to fall asleep more quickly, as you will not have to adjust your neck and spine as much in order to relieve back pain naturally and get comfortable.

Treating Your Back Injury at Home

There are many myths surrounding how to treat back injuries at home that can worsen your condition.

  • Don’t Use Heat

One myth is that applying heat to your injury will help relax back muscles. Unfortunately, this will do nothing more than worsen your pain. Why? Because, when you’ve sustained a back or any other injury, you have caused an inflammatory condition in the injured area. Adding more heat to an area that is already inflamed will only create more inflammation.

This is why doctors recommend placing ice on your back in the first one or two days following an injury. You should ice your injury every 20 minutes. After 48 hours has passed, you can apply heat if you desire, using the same 20-minute rule.

  • Get Going

The last thing you may want to do after having injured your back is to move around. However, movement can be the best thing; after all, your back and spine are designed for it. If you are otherwise healthy and are not experiencing any symptoms besides back pain, you can resume movement after 48 to 72 hours of rest.

However, you will have to be careful with the kinds of activities you participate in. For example, you will want to refrain from any activity that requires twisting or heavy lifting until about six weeks after your injury. You’ll also want to cease any exercise routines for up to three weeks, to help cure back pain fast at home. Any activity like golf, jogging, sit-ups, racquet ball, or contact sports should also be avoided.

  • Stretch

Stretching can be a helpful way to treat back pain at home. However, this, too, requires you to exercise caution. Depending on the nature, severity, and location of the back injury, some types of stretches can cause further damage. If your back injury is not serious, and you are experiencing pain, there are several different stretches you can try.

One way to stretch is simply by standing up and then bending slowly downward from the hips. Allow your head and arms to hang freely, but don’t swing them. Maintain this position for 5 to 10 seconds, taking note of any pain you feel. If you don’t feel pain, you can maintain this position for longer than 10 seconds.

Man Bending Back

After 10 seconds, return to a standing position more slowly than you bent downward. Imagine slowly pulling a zipper closed on a jacket tooth by tooth; then, simply visualize your spine aligning vertebrae by vertebrae as you return to your original standing position.

This is just one of several possible stretches that can help return flexibility to your muscles and relieve your back pain. The best advice is to consult with a physician about your back injury. Following a diagnosis, your doctor or physical therapist will be able to recommend the right stretches for you.

Understand How Stress Affects the Body

Stress is the underlying cause of many physical ailments, including back injury. In addition to contacting orthopedic doctors in Fort Worth, you need to be aware of how the body deals with stress.

Even though you may not be aware of stress, your body can and does react to it. If your muscles are tense due to stress, they will not be as flexible as they should be, which can increase the likelihood of injury when engaging in everyday activity.

You may also wish to consider ways to make your schedule less stressful, both following your back injury and over the long term. You may be able to spend some hours working at home instead of going to your workplace. Or, you may be able to reduce your number of work hours altogether.

Finding a hobby that you love can help you reduce stress. You may even consider volunteering at a local senior center or animal shelter. Volunteering has been shown not only to reduce stress, but to have a host of other health benefits, including an increased sense of purpose and well-being, both which contribute to better physical health.

Getting Additional Help for Your Back Pain

Doctor Looking Over X-rays with Patient

Although there are many ways to relieve and often eliminate back pain at home, there are other pain-causing conditions which may require the assistance of a professional to correct. 360 Back Center is dedicated to providing patients with all of their options for comprehensive treatment of the back and neck. If you are living with spinal deformity, spinal fusion, a herniated disc, or other back or neck conditions, expert help is available—simply call 360 Back & Spine Center at (682) 808-4389.