How To Relieve Back Pain – and Spare Yourself From Wallet Pain
Many seniors endure various bouts of back pain, some occasionally, and others every day.
In fact, according to groups and websites such as SeniorOutlookToday.com, lower back pain is considered the most common health issue facing seniors 60 and over.
It’s bad enough to have back pain, right? But why have additional and undue pain – to your wallet – when you can self-treat and save money in the process?
For many seniors on Medicare, back pain is a battle that oftentimes requires visits not only to the family doctor, but also to a hospital emergency room.
And the latter is where costs can really add up and cause a different kind of pain. We already know how expensive medical treatment can be, right? Why add to what you have to pay out-of-pocket if you don’t have to do that?
We’ve searched several resources and have come up with a game plan to help you not only hopefully ease your back pain, but also limit pain to your wallet.
Here are some key tips for you:
Back pain and aging often go hand-in-hand. There’s arthritis, bone and joint degeneration, spinal degradation, stiffness, and soreness, according to EveryDayHealth.com. Make yourself a student of back pain so you can more easily self-diagnose and self-treat.
Among the most common triggers for back pain are being overweight, smoking, having poor eating habits, and experiencing other various health conditions such as cancer. “Changes in lifestyle habits help reduce lower back pain due to arthritis,” explains The Arthritis Foundation. “Individuals with lower back pain and arthritis should quit smoking because smoking decreases the amount of oxygen that travels to the tissues in the lower back. Weight loss also reduces the strain on the spinal disks and the amount of weight the lower back must support.”
Aging brings with it the wearing away and shrinkage of disks between vertebrae, as well as space around our spinal cord, often resulting in a condition known as spinal stenosis, which puts pressure on not only the spinal cord, but also spinal nerves, resulting in back pain. Osteoporosis, which can lead to brittle bones and joints and even fractures, is also a significant cause of back pain.
Avoid the emergency room unless you absolutely have to go. Or, as the old saying goes, “heal thyself.” Top treatments include rest (and frequently lots of it) and prescription and over-the-counter pain medications, such as acetaminophen or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, used according to directions. According to WebMD, topical creams also help give temporary back pain relief.
Other simple treatments are physical exercise, particularly stretching (wisely, not overdoing it), weight lifting, and cardio workouts that have been approved beforehand in consultation with your doctor. Stretching is very important, as tight muscles can put additional strain on the lower back. Add yoga and Pilates to the mix, as well. Lastly, according to The Arthritis Foundation, there’s also passive therapy that can help, including heat, ice, massage, and electrical stimulation (like Tens Units) and back braces. Even simple devices such as shoe horns (to minimize the strain of bending over to tie or put on your shoes) or reach extenders (to take items off high shelves and the like) can pay significant dividends when it comes to cutting back pain.
One of the most overlooked ways to relieve back pain is also one of the simplest: how you sleep. According to WebMD, “finding the best sleeping position helps to avoid pain.” Among the best ways to minimize back pain include sleeping on one side with your legs pulled towards your chest in somewhat of a fetal position. Also, a new mattress (most notably medium or firm) can oftentimes make all the difference in the world. A comfortable mattress can not only give you better sleep and reduce pain; but also most likely ultimately save money in the long run by helping you avoid trips to the doctor or the ER.
What you eat can also help relieve back pain. The key is an anti-inflammatory diet. Scrap deep fried foods, baked goods, and foods and drinks high in sugar. Even wheat products and no-calorie sweeteners can cause inflammation. Instead, regularly consume flaxseed oil, fruit (particularly berries), vegetables (particularly with dark leafy greens), nuts rich in Omega-3 fatty acids including walnuts, cashews, and Brazil nuts, ginger, and even garlic.