Dealing with pain is an important part of recovering and healing after experiencing a traumatic injury or sprain, or undergoing a surgical procedure. Aside from prescription pain management, there are a number of effective treatments that can be done at home to help with pain management and improve or speed up the healing process.
Dr. Stieber recommends a number of remedies that can help patients who are dealing with back and neck pain to ease symptoms at home without further medication.
A cold pack is an effective pain reliever, as it helps reduce inflammation in the affected area. Always keep a damp cloth between the cold pack and your skin. Press the cold pack firmly against the curves of the affected area for 15-20 minutes, but no longer. Alternating cold packs and heat can also be effective.
Heat therapy helps relieve back pain by improving blood circulation. The better the blood circulates, the more nutrients and oxygen can travel to the joints and muscles, which helps to repair damaged muscles and tissues and relieve inflammation. The heat pack also helps to relax the tissues in the area, which decreases pain signals. Apply a heat pack for at least 10-30 minutes to be effective.
Epsom salt baths allow magnesium and sulfate to soak into the body through the skin. This helps to relax the muscles, and reduce swelling and pain. Soak for at least ten minutes in a bath with two cups of Epsom salt dissolved in the water.
Arnica cream temporarily relieves and decreases pain, muscle stiffness, swelling, and bruising that result from injuries or surgical procedures. Depending on the condition being treated, Arnica cream may be an effective alternative to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
Gentle exercises such as walking, yoga, or tai chi can help with breathing control and pain in the joints of your back. Gentle movements that help to stretch and strengthen muscles help relieve and ease certain types of pain.
After surgery, bracing your surgical incision by holding the site when you stand, sneeze, cough, or do anything else that may cause stress to the site, can be a helpful way to manage pain. Bracing the incision during sudden motion or activity reduces pain and minimizes the chance of complications after the surgical procedure.
Both physical therapy and occupational therapy are helpful when it comes to managing pain. Physical therapists give exercises you can do at home to help preserve or improve your strength and mobility. Occupational therapists work with you to understand which activities you might be doing that could aggravate your pain, and they help you learn to perform your daily activities in ways that don’t exacerbate the pain.
Dr. Jonathan Stieber is one of the top spine surgeons in New York. He is a board-certified, fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeon with fifteen years of experience in spine surgery and pain management. Because he is skilled in current pain management techniques, he has earned global recognition as a leading orthopedic specialist, lecturer, instructor, and published author.
Dr. Stieber serves as a Director of the Spine Center at OrthoManhattan and an Associate Professor of Orthopedic Surgery at NYU School of Medicine. Because of his results, expertise and patient satisfaction, Dr. Stieber has been named a New York Magazine Best Doctor for 2021 and Castle Connolly Top Doctor for 2022.
At Dr. Stieber's Advanced Back and Spine Care, our focus is patient safety and comfort when advising on at-home pain management. Dr. Stieber has hand-selected top providers in the field who specialize in pain management treatment to help you with any treatment options necessary. Contact us today to learn more about how Dr. Stieber and his team can help you manage your pain at home.
While there is no single sleeping position that works for everyone who has a back injury, sleeping on your side is typically helpful. Sleep on your side with a supportive pillow, with your back slightly elongated instead of curled up tightly.
Getting ahead of the pain means that you should not wait until your pain is severe before you take pain medication. If you wait until the pain is too severe, it is more difficult to manage the pain as it increases and worsens.
Sleep is a key factor in controlling your pain levels. Getting enough sleep heightens your body’s ability to cope with the pain, improves the speed of healing, and can even reduce pain levels.
Massage can help to work the tension out of the muscles and joints, and it may help distract from pain by introducing a different, "competing" sensation that can override the pain signals.
Music therapy is more of a distraction from the pain than it is a pain reliever. According to certain studies, music has been shown to help relieve pain after surgery, particularly classical music.
Acupuncture can be an effective pain reliever for individuals experiencing pain in their back and neck. Acupuncture provides a focused approach to relieving pain points.
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