Once upon a time, backache was an issue only with elder people or sometimes with the middle-aged but now 8 out of 10 people reported to have a backache. It is the young and the working people who are suffering from chronic back pain. What is astonishing is the fact that in most of the cases of a backache, it is not due to some serious medical condition like arthritis or fracture. Lifestyle, precisely said, a sedentary lifestyle is the most common cause for today’s backache problem. What you eat, how and how much you move or do not move, do you take rest and if you sleep enough how do you sleep, all contribute to your backache. The medicines that you take to relieve a backache only give you temporary relief and they bring with them a whole lot of side effects. In such a condition, it seems wise to follow home remedies for a backache. However, not all natural remedies will give you relief from your backache. You need to find out the most suitable remedy for your back pain through trial and error!
Natural Remedies for Backache
1. Heat Therapy for Backache
Heat and warmth can provide relief to many types of back pains. When your back pain is not traumatic in nature, you can apply heat therapy. A traumatic backache means pain due to back injuries because of an accident or severe back pain due to damaged and inflamed muscles such as when your back pains while you try to lift heavy objects. In such a case, heat can further aggravate the problem. If your backache, especially lower back pain, is due to strains and over-exertion, it creates tension in your muscles and soft tissues around the spine. As a result, proper circulation is restricted and you experience pain. When you apply heat to your back, it dilates the blood vessels of the muscles that surround the lumbar spine. This increases the flow of oxygen to the muscles. Heat also decreases the stiffness and the increased flexibility gives you a sense of comfort.
Tips to Apply Heat to Your Back
- If heat comforts your backache, try to provide moist heat to your back such as hot packs, baths and hot showers. They are more effective than dry heat.
- For hot pack, you can use a towel soaked in hot water. Wring out the excess water and place the towel on your aching back for 15-20 minutes.
- Apply heat only for 15-20 minutes at a time.
- If moist heat doesn’t suit you, you can even apply dry heat. For this, you can use an electric heating pad but do not use it more than 20 minutes at a time.
- When using a heating pad, keep it on the low or medium heat. Never use it on the high heat setting.
- Don’t fall asleep while the heating pad is on. Always set an alarm to wake you up after 20 minutes because, with the comfort you’ll get with the heat application, there is always a chance that you will fall asleep.
2. Drink Chamomile Tea to Relieve Back Pain
Chamomile tea has been traditionally used to cure stress and a host of other medical conditions. Many people have found this herbal tea to be beneficial for a backache too. One of the studies conducted in England in 2005 found German chamomile to be useful in some conditions though backache was not directly studied. The study found that chamomile tea breaks down glycine, an amino acid that has been known to relieve muscle spasms. Glycine is also a nerve relaxant. By working to reduce muscle spasms and soothing nerves, chamomile may actually help you get rid of back pain.
- Chamomile flowers- 1 tsp OR Chamomile tea bag- 1
- Hot water- 1 cup
- Place the flowers of the tea bag in pot.
- Pour hot water over it.
- Steep for about 10-15 minutes. If using tea bag, you may steep for about 5 minutes.
- Strain or remove the tea bag.
- Drink the tea.
- You may add some honey if you wish to sweeten it a little.
- Have 1-3 cups of chamomile a day.
Precaution: Avoid having this tea if you are allergic to ragweed pollen as chamomile flowers contain allergy inducing proteins that are related to this pollen.
3. Massage Therapy for Backache
Massage has been used since ages to sooth the strained muscles all over the body. And this is good for a backache too. A study conducted on 400 people with moderate-to-severe low back pain shows that massage has a positive effect on relieving back pain. Two groups in this study were given a weekly massage. One group was given whole body massage and the other was given massage for specific muscle issues around lower back and hips. This continued for 10 weeks after which both the groups reported reduced back pain compared to a third group which did not receive any massage. Massage can very effectively reduce soreness and soothe your tired muscles. Due to massaging, your blood circulation improves and leads to a better flow of blood and oxygen to the muscles. Massage also relaxes the muscles as well as releases endorphins. Endorphins are brain chemicals that make you feel good.
How to Massage to Relieve Back Pain?
You need someone to give you a back massage.
- Use both the thumbs to apply gentle kneading pressure all along the sine muscles. Do not run the thumbs over the spine.
- Let the thumbs move in circular strokes going in and then upwards.
- While moving the thumbs in circular motions, at the spots where tightness is felt or it seems that there are knots in the muscles, knead gently there till the rigidity goes away.
It is, however, better to take help of experts who have formal training or experience in massaging. Massaging the wrong points or undue pressure on muscles may aggravate your back pain.
4. Epsom Salt Bath for Backache
Epsom salt has magnesium and sulfate in it that is absorbed by your skin. Lack of magnesium in many people affect their nerves, muscles and functioning of enzymes which in turn leads to pain and swelling which can be on your back too. By the process of reverse osmosis, Epsom salt also draws out the toxins and excess fluids from the body via the porous skin. It seems a good idea to have Epsom salt bath to relieve back pain. It will not only reduce inflammation caused by injury but will also relieve stress and tension that aggravates a backache.
How to Take Epsom Salt Bath?
- Epsom salt- 1-2 cups
- Lavender essential oil (optional)- 6-10 drops
- Fill your bath tub with warm water.
- Add Epsom salt to this and let it dissolve completely.
- If using lavender oil, add this too. Lavender oil will make it more relaxing.
- Soak in this Epsom salt bath for 15 minutes. Staying too long in salt bath can make your skin too dry.
Precaution: Epsom salt baths are generally not recommended for those suffering from heart problems, high blood pressure or diabetes. If you have any of these conditions, consult your doctor before using this remedy for backache.
[Also Read: Natural Home Remedies for Joint Pain Relief]
5. Ginger Tea for Backache
If your back pain is due to arthritis, you may use ginger root to cure it. Ginger has natural anti-inflammatory properties that may relieve pain as well as inflammation. It is actually better than non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). While NSAIDs only block the formation of inflammatory compounds, ginger not only blocks the formation of the inflammatory compounds but also uses its antioxidant properties to reduce existing inflammation.
Make Ginger Tea to Relieve Back Pain
- Fresh ginger root – 1-2 inch piece
- Water- 1- ½ cups
- Honey- 1-2 tsp
- Cut the ginger root in slices.
- Bring the water to a boil.
- Add the ginger.
- Let it boil for about 5 minutes.
- Strain and add honey.
- Have this ginger tea 2-3 times a day.
6. Garlic for Back Ache
If your back pain is due to arthritis, consuming garlic can be very beneficial for you. It has excellent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. If you are having nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), garlic can, in fact, increase the potency of such drugs too. This may be due to the selenium present in garlic. It also has a compound called thiacremonone in it which helps stop inflammatory responses within your body.
Ways to Have Garlic
- Have 1-2 cloves of garlic with water every morning.
- Use garlic in your dishes like salads, gravies, soups etc.
- If you can stand its smell, you may also have garlic tea by steeping crushed garlic in hot water.
- You can have it with milk too which is very beneficial for pain management. Crush a 3-4 clove of garlic and add this to a cup of milk. Boil this milk and have it in two batches during the day.
7. Massage with Garlic Treated Coconut Oil
As you saw in the last remedy, garlic has many healthy compounds that make it beneficial for various conditions including pain. One of the compounds of garlic has anti-inflammatory properties which are capable of relieving pain and swelling. Mixed with coconut oil, you can make a garlic oil. This is an Ayurvedic remedy. Massaging with this oil can help relieve a backache.
- Coconut oil- 60 ml
- garlic- 10 cloves
- Heat the oil in a pan.
- Add the garlic cloves in it.
- Fry the cloves till they turn dark brown.
- Put off the flame and let the oil cool down till it becomes lukewarm.
- Discard the burnt garlic cloves.
- Massage your back gently with this lukewarm garlic oil.
8. Mahanarayana Oil for Backache
Mahanarayana oil is one of the very effective Ayurvedic herbal medicines for pain. It is a blend of oils treated with various herbs that are mainly known for their pain relieving properties. It has such herbs and ingredients as sesame oil, ginger, turmeric, camphor, ashwagandha, rock salt, shatavari, licorice, saffron, musk, goat milk and many more. Ayurveda suggests massaging with mahanarayan oil to relieve back pain 2-3 times a week. After massaging, leave the oil to sit for about 1 hour and then take a hot bath.
9. Eucalyptus Oil for Backache
Eucalyptus oil has analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties among many others. These properties make this oil good for pain management including back pain. While you can always use eucalyptus oil without diluting if you have a sensitive skin, it’s better to dilute it with some other oil like coconut oil or jojoba oil.
- Eucalyptus oil
- Coconut or jojoba oil (optional)
- Take a few drops of eucalyptus oil.
- If using undiluted, apply it to your back where you have pain.
- If diluting, use 3-5 drops of eucalyptus oil with each teaspoon of carrier oil.
- Apply on your back and gently rub in a circular motion till the oil is completely absorbed in the skin.
- Repeat 2-3 times a day.
10. Take Omega-3 Fatty Acid to Relieve Backache
Omega-3 fatty acids have been proved by many scientific studies to reduce pains including back pain. The two main omega-3 fatty acids that can do this wonder are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) that are found in fish oil. These fatty acids have anti-inflammatory effects. In fact, these fatty acids convert into anti-inflammatory prostaglandins. While you may always have foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, fish oil capsules are also a good supplement to consider if you have chronic back pain. However, when choosing fish oil supplement, get the one which is pharmaceutical grade and also free of harmful metals like mercury.
11. Turmeric for Back Pain
Turmeric which has been used as a spice in Asian cuisine since ancient times has proven anti-inflammatory properties. The component curcumin present in turmeric gives it this quality. Many studies have been conducted on curcumin and it has been proved to decrease inflammation, even in people with osteoarthritis. While turmeric’s this useful component curcumin is available in all forms including capsules, tincture, fresh root and dried powder, it is recommended to use turmeric in small quantities while preparing dishes. ½ to 1 tsp of turmeric powder or its fresh root’s paste is enough for a day. You can also have turmeric milk whose recipe is given below.
- Fresh turmeric root- ½ to 1-inch piece OR Dried turmeric powder- ½ tsp
- Milk- 1 cup
- If using turmeric root, cut it in slices
- Add turmeric root slices or the turmeric powder to the milk.
- Boil the milk for 5-10 minutes.
- Strain with the help of a sieve. If you have used turmeric powder, you don’t need to strain it.
- Drink it while its warm.
- Have 1-2 cups of turmeric milk a day.
Turmeric, when combined with bromelain enzyme found in pineapple becomes more effective.
12. Pineapple for Back Pain
This is a tasty way to treat your backache. Pineapple has this enzyme called bromelain which is a natural anti-inflammatory. It is such a powerful pain reliever that athletes too use bromelain to manage sports injuries. Even doctors are using this enzyme for those who undergo surgery for their speedy recovery. You just need to include pineapple in your diet to have bromelain enzyme. Alternatively, you may take bromelain supplement too.
Precaution: People who are on anticoagulants (blood thinners) or have peptic ulcers should consult their physician before taking bromelain supplements. This enzyme may also interact with certain antibiotics.
13. Make Capsaicin Cream to Relieve Back Pain
Capsaicin is found in hot peppers and chilies like in cayenne peppers. This component is used in many pain relieving ointments because it can relieve pain though temporarily. Capsaicin is capable of desensitizing you to pain. It, in fact, depletes substance P which is a neurochemical that transmits pain signal to your brain. You can even find capsaicin creams as an over-the-counter medicine for pain. So why not make one at home!
How to Make Capsaicin Cream at Home?
- Cayenne powder- 3 tbsp
- Any oil (Almond/olive/jojoba/coconut/grapeseed oil)- 1 cup
- Beeswax (grated)- ½ cup
- Jar with Lid
- Mix cayenne pepper with oil.
- Heat the mixture using a double boiler for 5-10 minutes.
- Add the beeswax.
- Keep stirring until the beeswax melts.
- When all the ingredients have blended well, let it cool down.
- Once it cools down, store it in the jar.
- Keep the jar in the refrigerator.
- Apply this cayenne cream to your back where it aches. You may apply it daily or whenever needed.
14. White Willow Bark for Back Pain
If you want to have a natural substitute for aspirin, have white willow bark. When you take aspirin, it is converted into salicylic acid in your body which is responsible for giving you relief from pain. In the same way, salicin, which is the natural component present in white willow bark, is converted into salicylic acid when it is in your body. Therefore, you can be relieved of your back pain naturally by having this herb. You can make tea with white willow bark.
Make White Willow Bark Tea
- White willow bark- 2 tsp
- Water- 2 cups
- Honey- 1 tsp
- Add white willow bark to water.
- Bring this to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.
- Simmer for about half an hour.
- Let it now steep for 30 more minutes.
- Add honey and have this tea.
- Drink 3-4 cups of white willow bark tea in a day.
Precaution: If you are taking aspirin or other blood-thinning medications, avoid having white willow bark or consult your doctor.
15. Lifestyle Remedies for Backache
As we discussed right at the beginning that lifestyle is the main cause of today’s increasing backache cases, you need to bring changes to your lifestyle too. Without doing this, no remedy, or for that matter, even medicines, can’t bring you permanent relief to you from your back pain.
- Move your body– Your whole body is meant to be moved and your spine is not an exception. Longer hours of sitting is one of the major causes of back pain. So, keep moving. Do your own work like making beds, getting up and walking to the fridge to get water etc. Take your pet for a walk or go to the store walking. These little episodes of walking all through the day will keep your spine moving.
- Exercise– This is a step ahead of just moving. Swimming, cycling, brisk walking, aerobics, yoga, whatever suits you, do that. But exercise you must. Start exercising once your chronic pain lessens and you feel a little better.
- Don’t sit for longer– When at the office, take breaks after every 20-30 minutes. Just get up and walk to the window, stretch a little, come back and then sit again.
- Mind your posture– Sitting the wrong way too gives you back pain. Don’t slouch or slump while sitting.
- Wear right shoes– High heels too put a strain on your back. As far as possible keep the length of your heels low.
- Lose weight– Being obese is generally not healthy. Being overweight also puts a strain on your spine leading to a backache.
[Also Read: Amazing Herbal Remedies for Weight Loss]
Every person has his set of causes for a backache and therefore not all home remedies for back pain will work for all. You need to find the remedies that work for your backache through trial and error. Eat right, sit and stand right as well as find the right remedies for your backache!