Many of us suffer from occasional to frequent bouts of low back pain. In fact, low back pain is one of the top five diagnoses in primary care doctor's visits nationally. Although some cases of low back pain are caused by serious medical conditions such as herniated discs and spinal disease, the majority of cases are due to strain and sprain of low back muscles.
One of the reasons why this is so common is because we spend so much of our time sitting and we do not adequately develop our low back muscles. In fact, the best treatment for acute low back pain due to sprain or strain is not bed rest, it's actually doing targeted low back exercises. These exercises are taught by physical therapists and are also available in numerous websites online.
Doing low back exercises is not only a way to treat acute low back pain but it can also be the best way to prevent it from coming back again. Taking as few as 5 minutes a day to do these low back stretches or engage in a practice that strengthens your core muscles like Yoga or Pilates can make a huge impact.
Additionally there are some choices for pain relief. Although Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen or naproxen can be used they must be taken with food and can also have side effects including raising your blood pressure and potentially causing gastritis or bleeding in your gastrointestinal tract.
Some alternative pain relief choices for these musculoskeletal pain symptoms include Turmeric or Curcumin. Make sure to take this with food to get maximum absorption. Some preparations of turmeric supplements have black pepper in them to help with absorption but black pepper or piperine can interact with many medications so ask your doctor before trying this if you are on prescription drugs.
Eating an an Anti-Inflammatory Diet can be a great way to help reduce overall inflammation and chronic back pain or other arthritis symptoms in addition to other health benefits. Another natural anti-inflammatory supplement is omega 3 fish oil, taking a total of 4000 mg divided up per day of EPA + DHA (the two major forms of omega 3) can also help with back pain symptoms. Again ask your doctor if you are taking any medications as this can theoretically thin your blood which is usually a good thing except in some cases.
Even extra virgin olive oil has been found to have some analgesic pain relieving effect with approximately 4 tablespoons of quality uncooked oil to be equal to a small dose of ibuprofen. I have also found dark cherry concentrate 2 tablespoons 2-3 times per day to be helpful although there is not as much evidence for this, but there is also little potential for harm so ask your doctor about this as well. Also heat pads and cold pads can be helpful. Heat is particularly useful when there is significant stiffness and cold pads are useful when there is spasm and burning pain.
If you have shooting pain or other symptoms of numbness or weakness, seek urgent care as this may be a sign of a more serious problem with your spine.