Lower Back Pain Relief Products...Are They Effective?
If you have recently sustained a serious back injury or you suffer from chronic back pain, no doubt you are acutely interested in effectively relieving your pain. There are too many drugs and treatments available in the world to really try them all — and why would you? Some treatments can be ineffective, or worse, really dangerous to your health.
In this article we are going to review some common lower back pain relief products to see just how effective they are, and if you should use them. Here are the treatments we are going to review:
● Topical analgesics
● Heat and ice therapy
● Inversion tables
There are varying opinions about all of these treatments. We want to give you unbiased information so that you can see the risks and rewards of using each of these treatments so that you can start on your path to your very own personal pain relief plan.
Topical Analgesics — Safe and Effective?
Topical analgesics is essentially another way of referring to pain relief that you apply to your skin. The word analgesic comes from two Greek words which mean “without pain”. No doubt you are familiar with drugs like ibuprofen and aspirin which are analgesics.
If you have achy joints or muscles, topical painkillers can be applied to the area in the form of creams, sprays, or gels may provide some relief. Many topical analgesics are available without prescription and can be quite effective.
Here are the main ingredients in nonprescription topical painkillers:
● Counterirritants — These include things like menthol and create a hot or cold sensation that takes your mind’s focus away from the pain.
● Salicylates — These are plant-derived chemicals that decrease damaging inflammation.
● Capsaicin — This is an effective pain reliever as well as the main component of hot chili peppers!
Some benefits of topical painkillers over a pill is that less of the drug actually enters your bloodstream than a pill and is, therefore, safer for people who are at risk of heart attack or stroke due to painkillers. As well, there have been studies that suggest that patches, gels, and creams cause fewer instances of internal bleeding than their orally-taken counterparts.
As with all drugs, topical analgesics have their risks.
First of all, it’s important to know exactly how to use this treatment. Always thoroughly read the instructions before use. Never apply topical treatments to an open wound or broken skin as it may actually cause damage or pain. Also, using topical painkillers alongside a heating pad may cause burns. Carefully follow the instructions included with your product so you can attain the maximum benefit.
Topical analgesics should be avoided by pregnant women, nursing mothers, young children, or even older people without a physician’s recommendation. It’s also possible for these treatments to cause your blood to thin so if you have a heart condition you should also speak with your doctor before use.
● Effective at temporarily relieving pain
● Easy to use
● Possibly less internal damage than pills
● Dangerous to use with a heating pad
● Not recommended for some people without speaking to your doctor
Ice or Heat — Which One is Best?
To tell you the truth, I can’t answer that question for you; the answer lies with your specific condition. In some instances, heat is better. In other instances, ice is the best option.
Directly following an injury you should follow what is referred to as the RICE method.
R - Rest
I - Ice
C - Compression
E - Elevation
Immediately following an injury you should first rest: stop doing the activity that caused you the pain or injury. Then, you should apply ice to the area. This is because directly after an injury, the body produces too much inflammation in an attempt to heal you. This inflammation can actually cause more damage and unnecessary pain in the short run.
The ice will relieve some swelling and inflammation — reducing the pain. Then you should compress the area by wrapping it with a bandage to further decrease swelling. It should be firm but not too tight. The last step is to elevate the injury if possible as well as continuing to apply ice to the area.
On the other hand, if your pain is not from a recent injury you may suffer from chronic back pain. In this case, heat may be a better option.
Heat does wonders for the body:
● Improves blood flow
● Assists the body in eliminating cellular waste
● Soothes the muscles and joints and eliminates pain
Hot and cold therapy can be used in conjunction with each other. If the injury is swelling or inflamed, then it might be best to apply ice. If your back pain is not accompanied by inflammation, then heat could be used alone to treat lower back pain. In fact, heat packs and can be found that last for an entire day to relieve pain wherever you go.
Inversion Tables — Do They Really Help?
The FDA has cleared at least one brand of inversion table for the treatment of back pain. There is evidence that suggests that inversion tables really do reduce back pain, properly reset the space in between your spinal vertebrae, and reduce the need for surgery.
Some claim that using the table really helps their pain levels throughout the entire day if they use it in the morning. However, there doesn’t seem to be sufficient evidence that can prove that inversion tables provide much more than just temporary relief of symptoms.
It feels good while you are on it and definitely even for a little while after, but eventually, gravity will start putting pressure back on your spine and the pain will return. Obviously, as with most pain medications, the effect is not expected to be permanent, so the inversion table could be the right choice for you as long as you understand that it provides only temporary relief.
There are some dangers, however. Users should not go more than a 45-degree angle or there could be some complications. As soon as you invert your body, the blood pressure in your head and eyeballs increases dramatically, so inversion tables are not for people with glaucoma or high blood pressure.
● Relieves pain for a short time — even up to a day
● Simple to use with low risk of side effects as long as it is used moderately
● May not provide the amount of pain relief you were looking for
● Possibly unsafe for some users
No matter which of these low back pain relief products and treatments you choose to use, you can expect to see a measure of results in the form of pain relief as long as you use the treatment safely.