Local problem-solvers responded en masse to Thursday’s column about lower-back pain with helpful suggestions about how they have found relief.
Some stories were heart-breaking tales of far more severe pain than I’m feeling. Those stories made me just grateful that my muscle strain is nothing compared to what many feel, like Gary Stange, now 60, who has had back pain since he was 15 and who said an exercise ball has saved him.
Almost all communications were in the spirit of helpfulness, written out of kindness, one sufferer trying to help another.
I’m going to share just a few of them with you in the same spirit, with the caveat that one person’s answer may not help another’s suffering, especially since there are so many types of back pain. People were offering me suggestions for a back sprain, not a bulging disk or a genetic problem.
Some solutions were what you might expect: Exercise. Lose weight. Don’t smoke. The remedies for all problems, not just back problems.
Then there were opposing views: ice packs versus heating pads. Each side had its defenders.
Patricia Bright made a practical suggestion that I buy my cat his own heating pad. "That way you don’t need to fight over it! Just make sure it’s one that turns off automatically!" She warned against anti-inflammatory medications which can be hard on your stomach. Her back pain responds well to the Flector patch.
ThermaCare heatwraps, which last for eight hours, won the thumbs-up from several people with back pain.
Joe Licari said his wife likes heat and cold. He recommended a microwavable flax seed heat wrap and Biofreeze.
Ward Zimmerman has had back pain for nearly 30 years and, if the problem is muscular or a pinched nerve, he favors ice packs three times a day, 30 minutes each. He credits ice treatments with making him "limber as a yogi in two days."
Nancy Chiofolo does, too. "Now at the first sign of a pang, I lay on the couch with a frozen gel pack on my lower back. Phooey with the five minutes thing! I keep it on till I am frozen as a Popsicle! Couple of time a day, pain is gone!"
People raved about their doctors, their chiropractors and their massage therapists. (My hairdresser actually gave me the quick massage he gives his family and I could feel a positive difference.)
True Back, an orthopedic traction device, was recommended by a lawyer who said it really works.
Bill Hurst suggested a foam pillow designed specifically to fit between the knees for side sleepers like me. It’s not as hot as a down pillow, solving another of my problems.
Dr. Edson Parker, who treats back pain and suffers from it himself, wrote, "It’s actually very uncomplicated to take care of your back and minimize back pain, even if you have a spine problem."
Watch how you lift things, don’t smoke, don’t get fat and exercise, particularly the lumbar and abdominal muscles. Once a person does physical therapy for a while, they know what to do, they just need to do it, Parker said.
One man swears by a daily capsule of white willow bark found at vitamin stores.
A blogger bearing the name Beerbellytex offered this helpful idea: "Try a shot of whisky. If that does not work, take another shot."
I’ve taken the first step. I am committed to sticking with the exercises taught at physical therapy.
After therapy ends next week, I have a plan.
If I still have lower back pain, I’ll start with the recommended whisky shot. Then I’m doing a comparison test of both ice packs and heating pads. A massage therapist may be in my future.
I’ll think about all the people who cared enough to share their pain relievers. That alone makes me feel better.
Jane Ann Morrison’s column appears Monday, Thursday and Saturday. E-mail her at Jane@reviewjournal.com or call (702) 383-0275. She also blogs at lvrj.com/blogs/morrison.