Worldwide, back pain is the leading cause of disability. Most people experience it at least once in their life. However, when this becomes chronic pain, meaning persistent for 12 weeks or longer, it can interfere with your quality of life and get in the way of accomplishing even the most mundane tasks — like putting on your shoes. According to research, about 20% of people affected by acute back pain progress to chronic pain in the back within a year. Let’s explore five practical tips you can apply to relieve chronic pain in the area.
How to Relieve Chronic Pain in the Back (and Neck)
Fortunately, in most cases, simple physical activities, lifestyle changes, and consistent treatment can help improve the condition.
1. Minimize Prolonged Static Positions
Lower back and sacroiliac joint pains are often caused by having tight hamstrings. And tight hamstrings often come from being in a static position for too long.
Excessive sitting stresses your spinal discs and lower back, causing muscle tension and worsened chronic pain. Often, one acquires this kind of back pain from desk jobs. And make no mistake about it: This can lead to injury down the line.
To avoid this, make sure to move around at regular intervals and minimize excessive sitting. Consider using standing desks or taking periodic breaks to stretch out and release the pressure on your lower back. Avoid over-fatigued muscles and joints by changing positions every 30 minutes to one hour.
Bad posture can also lead to many back problems. So, from time to time, adjust your neck, shoulders, and back to reduce the stress on your spine. Use ergonomic chairs or seats with lumbar support to limit lower backaches. Apply proper sitting positions by maintaining a normal lower back curve, placing your monitor at eye level, and ensuring that your head is not protruding forward.
Side note: Be mindful of how much time you spend looking down at your phone.
2. Work on Mobility Daily
A lack of mobility plays a big role in causing chronic pain in the lower back, upper back, and neck. Because your back is what connects everything, tightness somewhere else could lead to chronic pain in the back.
Mobility becomes even more important if you sit a lot. While nothing can undo the damage of sitting, mobility exercises can at least soften the blow.
Mobility looks different for everyone. You might consider beginning your day with 15 minutes of stretches to wake up your muscles and joints. It’s also wise to sprinkle mobility throughout your day. Periodically take time away from your computer to open your chest, shoulders, and hips.
Practicing these movements regularly can help manage chronic pain. However, remember that the exercises should be tailored to your specific needs and condition. Some people carry more tightness in their shoulders and pecs, while others might bear the brunt of it in their hips.
3. Incorporate Electric Muscle Stimulation (EMS) and Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS)
Electric muscle stimulation uses electrical impulses to contract muscles, causing them to strengthen and relax. Using a device like PowerDot, incorporate EMS into your daily routine to help increase blood flow and circulation, flush out lactic acid build-up in the muscles, and reduce muscle soreness.
With our massage feature, you can soothe everyday chronic pain and strengthen different muscles. Our electric muscle stimulation technology is discreet and easy to use, so you can set the program based on your recovery needs and use it anywhere and anytime you want — even mid-flight. (We’re TSA-friendly!)
You can also use PowerDot if you need quick muscle recovery and lower back relief throughout the day. Don’t forget you can apply it during your mobility exercises, too.
TENS delivers electrical impulses to stimulate sensory nerves and provide relief to the painful area. It helps create endorphin release to relieve pain or block pain signals from reaching the brain.
With PowerDot’s Smart TENS, you can begin the healing journey within the app by selecting your pain area and the type and setting your tolerance level. You’ll then get a specialized program designed to relieve the chronic pain in your back and track results over time.
Using PowerDot daily or weekly can support your ongoing recovery, avoid the recurrence of pain, and help prevent future back injuries.
4. Use Heat or Ice Therapy
While the efficacy of this method might vary depending on the cause of your back pain, it’s certainly worth knowing about.
Because heat therapy dilates blood vessels in muscles, it increases the flow of oxygen and nutrients, encouraging healing. It can decrease pain signals to the brain, while simultaneously loosening muscles to decrease stiffness.
Ice therapy is more commonly used after sustaining an injury. It helps fight inflammation.
5. Practice Yoga and Meditation
Some of us are quick to dismiss the power of yoga and meditation, but there’s a reason people have been practicing them for centuries.
Chronic back pain is draining emotionally and mentally. This is why activities that will help you manage the psychological aspects are important, as well.
Often, specialists recommend yoga, meditation, or other relaxation strategies to help the brain reduce or ignore some pain signals.
Yoga improves the health of joints and muscles through stretching, distributes healing nutrients through blood circulation, and increases the flexibility of your spine. Start off with low-impact stretches and slowly transition to more advanced movements once you feel comfortable.
Meditation helps release endorphins, improve concentration, and decrease stress. It also controls the way your body perceives discomfort and reduces painful sensations. Meditation is best done in a quiet, peaceful room where you can focus and be in tune with yourself. Begin with slow, controlled breathing and gradually resume your normal pace. You can meditate right when you wake up, when you’re on a break at work, or before bedtime.
Even five minutes can make a difference. Try an app like Headspace.