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6 Ways to Treat Back Pain at Home

January 05, 2024

If you have chronic back pain, there are many options for treatment. And surgery is usually the last choice, even for a spine surgeon.

“I tell patients that the best surgery is no surgery. We always go with non-surgical treatments first,” says Vijay Yanamadala, MD, director of spine quality and surgical optimization for the Hartford HealthCare Ayer Neuroscience Institute.

So, how can you treat your back pain without surgery – and maybe even from the comfort of your own home? Here’s what Dr. Yanamadala says.

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6 ways to ease back pain naturally

There are also a variety of more natural remedies or lifestyle changes you implement to help back pain, he says. These include:

  1. Getting a good night’s sleep. Sleep, Dr. Yanamadala notes, helps our muscles recover.
  2. Maintaining a healthy weight. You can “develop an internal back brace” by slimming down and strengthening core muscles through exercises like planks and yoga.
  3. Getting up and walking around. When we sit too long, we tend to slouch which can trigger backaches. Get up every 30-60 minutes to stretch and reposition yourself. Schedule meetings with transition time so you can change your posture in between.
  4. Applying heat patches. “I’m a big fan of heat, which relaxes muscles,” Dr. Yanamadala says. Ice, on the other hand, eases inflammation. Try both to see which works best.
  5. Slipping into a hot tub. The same benefit of heat comes from sitting in a hot tub, which can relax tense, tight muscles. He also suggests hydrotherapy, or exercising and
  6. Walking in water, for a low-impact, high-resistance muscle workout.

> Related: How to Know When Back Pain Requires Surgery

How an expert can help even before surgery.

While there are some specific symptoms that point more directly to surgery – spinal cord compression, trouble with bowel function or trouble walking, for example – the majority of patients experiencing pain in their back, neck, arm or leg can try less invasive approaches to relief first, Dr. Yanamadala says.

“Surgery doesn’t always work for everyone, plus it comes with risks and you need to take time out of work. It’s not a magic bullet,” he says.

Some options to try before surgery include:

  • Physical therapy. Therapists work with you on exercises, techniques like dry needling and deep tissue massage to ease pain.
  • Alternative therapies. This ranges from chiropractic care to yoga and acupuncture.
  • Medication injections. These can range from steroids to nerve blockers. Your doctor can recommend the right kind for you.

“These all have a role and place in treatment,” Dr. Yanamadala says, adding that finding what works for you can be “a little bit of trial and error.”