When you experience back pain, you may be desperate to find back pain relief. You might shop online for the latest gadget with reviews stating that it works wonders or you ask Grandma to apply her famous ointment. There is no shortage of ideas to try to get rid of the pain! Several clients at our clinic have told me “I am not sure if I did the right thing, but it seems like it helped.” Rest assured! Generally speaking, your instincts are good. But which accessories on the market are best suited for your needs?
There is not just one accessory that can miraculously cure your back pain. It would be too good to be true! However, there are some accessories that have been proven to provide pain relief for some people. We have prepared this guide to help you decide what the best accessory is for you!
Hot/cold Gel Pack
The thermal gel pack is a very practical and affordable accessory to use. It can be a source of heat or cold.
For acute injuries, put it in the freezer to have a cold gel pack. However, it is important not to apply it directly on the skin because the chemicals may burn the skin. The ideal method is to wrap it in a damp towel (ex. dish towel) to effectively conduct the cold temperature to the affected area.
For chronic injuries, use a warm gel pack by soaking it for a few minutes in boiling water (DO NOT boil the bag) or putting it in the microwave. The ideal method is to wrap it in a dry towel (ex. dish towel) to effectively conduct the heat to the affected area.
Do not use the gel pack with numbing creams. If you use both, please apply the ointment after using the gel pack.
Proprioceptive taping is another temporary option to relieve pain in the acute phase. The self-adhesive strips, taped on the lumbar region, are used to calm muscle spasms and above all, to remind you to avoid uncomfortable movements by using tension on the tape during the taping process. By using the tape, the muscles can rest and remain less tense until your next appointment with your therapist. It is reasonably priced (approximately 20$), durable, esthetic, and waterproof.
There are different types of lumbar cushions. The purpose of the cushion is to maintain a good posture that allows less stress on the back.
There are smaller cushions that are almond or scroll shaped. The smaller size makes them easy to carry and they fit on most office chairs and car or sofa seats using straps. Individuals with a pronounced lordosis (i.e. excessive inward curve of the spine) will prefer the round shape while individuals with less pronounced lordosis will prefer the almond shape.
There are also cushions that help your entire spine, from the upper back all the way down to the lower back. It is important to make sure you are comfortable and should not hesitate to try this option if you have back pain. The cushions with flaps on each side should be favored because they prevent you from tilting to one side.
You can easily purchase these cushions for approximately 30$ to 80$. It is a great option if you work endless hours in front of a computer.
A lumbar support belt is a great accessory to use when you stand for long periods of time or have to lift heavy loads. The belt is designed to support your intra-abdominal muscles that surround your core. It is often used by people with symptomatic herniated discs who need to continue to do physical work.
It is also recommended for pregnant women whose belly weight puts excessive pressure on the lower back. These belts, depending on their size, can be worn under or over clothing. They have straps that allow you to adjust the tension of the support. This makes it much more comfortable to relax the tension created by the belt when you take a break. There are several models and prices depending on the level of support required.
TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) is a portable electrotherapy device that is used to relieve chronic pain. This device inhibits the nerves in order to temporarily mark the pain. You can apply the electrodes to the problem area and adjust the intensity of the electrical stimulation to a tolerable level.
There are basic analog models as well as more sophisticated digital models. However, it is important to ask a rehabilitation professional to explain the functions of the machine to you so that you can use it according to your needs. This device is certainly more expensive compared to applying ice (between 50$ and $700), but its effectiveness has been proven to be higher.
You are probably wondering how orthotics on the feet can help your back pain. The goal of the foot orthotics is to improve the biomechanics of the lower limbs. By supporting the arches of the foot in a neutral position, the orthotics influence the alignment of the joints of the ankle, knee, hip, and ultimately the back.
As a result, the back is less stressed and therefore you will be in less pain. Plantar orthotics can be prefabricated or custom made. They are made of different materials and in different sizes depending on your needs and activities. For these reasons, the price of plantar orthotics may vary greatly.
What more can I do to improve my condition?
These accessories are sure to be more effective when combined with an exercise program recommended to you by a rehabilitation professional. If you have tried one or more of the above options and feel you still need help, whether it is for advice or for an assessment of your condition, we can help!
Make an appointment with one of your physiotherapists or athletic therapists!