There are several different types of back pain. Upper back pain is different from lower back pain. Lower back pain is characterized by aching, pain, and stiffness in your lower back/hip area.
This pain can be caused by many factors, including sciatica, arthritis, a ruptured disk, improper posture or incorrect lifting, or a nerve issue. For mild lower back pain, home treatment can help alleviate the need to visit the doctor.
Try some ways to relieve lower back pain for seniors at home.
10 Tips to Relieve Senior Lower Back Pain
Using a heating pad is a natural, effective way to treat back pain for seniors that doesn’t involve any medication or a trip to the doctor’s office.
The best way to use heat is to apply the heating pad directly to your lower back. Possibly place the heating pad on your bed or couch, plug it in, and lie directly onto the pad where your back hurts the most.
Use heat on your lower back for half an hour. You can repeat this several times a day. If lying on your back is painful, you can lie on your side and use a pillow to wedge the heating pad where you need it to be.
You can alternate heat treatment with ice treatment, which some physical therapists believe is an effective way to treat inflammation and pain in the upper or lower back.
Combine heat and ice treatment with other treatments for the best results.
You can use some over-the-counter medications to relieve minor lower back pain if you don’t feel the need to call a doctor while you’re suffering back pain.
These include acetaminophen, also known as Tylenol; ibuprofen or Motrin and Advil, or naproxen, also known as Aleve.
Follow the instructions on the bottle when taking any medication, and if you’re unsure whether you can take pain relievers with your current prescriptions, ask your doctor or pharmacist just to double-check.
For the best shot at relieving lower back pain, combine over-the-counter medications with heat and cold therapy and rest in order to alleviate lower back pain.
If you have an injury and have more than mild pain, your doctor may be able to help you get a muscle relaxer that could be a bit stronger than over-the-counter pain medicine.
If you are suffering from lower back pain, it’s time to treat yourself to some self-care. This means you may need to take a few days off from your busy schedule.
Allow yourself the rest that your body needs to heal from lower back pain. Set yourself up on the couch or in bed with drinks, snacks, a book, your computer, or whatever else you need to while away the hours of rest.
Find the most comfortable position for your back, which could mean trying a few different ways to lie before you find the one that’s most comfortable.
Sometimes with back pain, it can help if you place a pillow in between your knees while lying on your side. You may not want to lie on your back.
4. Slow movement
Once you have rested for a few days and you’re starting to feel better, a bit of movement can be good for you.
Avoid high-impact exercises and don’t lift anything heavy. Instead, turn to low-impact activities that will get you moving without a potential injury or pain.
Some of these ideas include walking, swimming, playing golf, gentle yoga, and riding a bicycle. Don’t overexert yourself – even if you’re walking, make sure not to overdo it.
You don’t have to embark on a marathon, and running is definitely out of the question. Try to move a few times a week in order to help your back pain heal.
If you’re exercising and experience more pain, stop what you are doing and take a rest. There’s no reason to push yourself or cause an injury.
5. Support your back
Many of us don’t think about how we sit or how to support our bodies throughout a normal day. When you are sitting at your desk, it’s important to have an ergonomic chair to pad your lower back.
Avoid hunching over in your chair and always practice good posture. This will eliminate lower back pain.
Use an ergonomic mouse and keyboard to keep your wrists and arms from suffering pain. When you lift anything, lift with your legs and not your back.
When you sit, it’s always best to keep your feet on the floor to help enhance your posture. Keep this in mind if you’re designing a new workspace.
Make sure everything you need when you’re sitting is within arm’s reach so you’re not constantly leaning over or bending to reach it, which can cause back strain.
You need to keep your body loose and relaxed to avoid muscle pain. If you find yourself at a desk having to sit for long periods of time, make sure to get up every hour.
Even if you just walk around for a few minutes, it can help alleviate lower back pain if you aren’t sitting for hours on end.
Do some light stretching of your arms and legs to keep your muscles from tensing up, causing more back pain or injury.
You can follow a regimen of a handful of basic, easy stretches you can do daily no matter where you are or what you’re doing.
Stretches should always be a part of your day, whether you’re exercising, working, or just sitting around the house.
Make stretching a priority and you’ll find yourself feeling less tight. Tight muscles can lead to pain, pulled muscles, or other injuries.
7. Change your shoes
Are you wearing the right shoes? Did you know that unsupportive shoes can cause lower back pain along with foot pain?
Now is the time to ditch your high heels for more supportive footwear. Make sure you are wearing cushioned shoes that offer padding for your feet, and stay away from anything with a heel.
Though you can purchase special orthopedic shoes, you don’t necessarily need them for the best support. There are many footwear brands that make supportive shoes in many styles, including sneakers, loafers, flats, and boots.
If you love your shoes and don’t want to give them up, purchase an orthotic insert to convert your favorite pair into more supportive shoe styles.
Anything with a heel can add pressure to your spine, which will then affect your back and cause unwanted lower back pain.
8. Don’t smoke
If you are a smoker, now is a great time to quit. You might ask, what does smoking have to do with back pain?
The answer is that there is definitely a correlation between pain and smoking. This is because when you are a smoker, you increase your risk for osteoporosis, which is a spine disorder.
This disorder can result in lower back pain as well as spine fractures and other problems that can cause permanent pain and long-term damage to your back.
Studies have shown that smokers have higher instances of back pain and problems. This is a problem you can easily fix by simply giving up this bad habit.
Along with lowering your risk of osteoporosis, you’ll also lower your chances of lung cancer and emphysema, so it’s a win-win all around for non-smokers.
On the whole, smokers have more pain, so why take the risk?
9. Get healthy
Make sure your diet promotes the nutrients you need to eliminate pain. This means making sure you are eating and drinking things with necessary vitamins and minerals, including calcium for strong bones.
Other necessary nutrients your body needs to stay healthy include vitamin D and phosphorous. Some foods to add to your diet for a pain-free life include milk, yogurt, cheese, ice cream, greens like kale and bok choy, and legumes.
Eggs, sardines, salmon, and vitamin-fortified cereals are all good sources of vitamin D. These nutrients are essential when it comes to building bone health and bone growth.
Along with these specific nutrients, make sure your daily diet consists of plenty of fruits, vegetables, and grains for overall good health.
As we get older, our bones become more fragile, which means it’s even more important to take the necessary steps to get enough of these bone-building nutrients.
Take a daily supplement if you feel your diet doesn’t give you enough of these.
10. Get enough sleep
During sleep, your body heals and makes repairs. That’s why it is absolutely necessary that you are getting the right amount of sleep a night.
For the best sleep when you are having back pain, make sure you are sleeping on a firm mattress. A mattress that is too soft will potentially cause more pain, and your back needs support while you sleep.
Don’t lie on your back. Lie in the fetal position on your side with your knees drawn up for the most comfortable position for a painful back. You may need to put a pillow in between your knees.
If you don’t have the right mattress, you can use a thick pad on top of your mattress to create more support while you are having back pain.
It may also help you to use your heating pad in bed – get one that turns off automatically after an hour so you don’t have to worry if you fall asleep with it turned on.