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Home Therapy for the Back and Neck

rotation with golf clubWhen you go to the dentist to get a cavity filled, the dentist will remind you to floss and brush your teeth daily to prevent future cavities. Similarly, we strongly emphasize a daily back or neck exercise program to prevent a future recurrence of back strain including low back pain or sciatica. Once you have a back pain attack, you’re four times more likely to have a recurrence. Being a previous victim of back pain requires you to work extra hard to prevent future back attacks.

A home exercise program is typically customized for an individual’s specific back problem. These exercises can be done on the living room rug while watching TV. Other stretching exercises can be done throughout the day to increase flexibility. The way to prevent future back pain or neck pain is by using customized exercises that make the back stronger, more flexible and resistant to injury.

Just as someone with a heart problem needs to watch their cholesterol, diet and exercise, someone with a back problem needs to keep their back flexible and strong. When faced with the task of lifting an object, it’s essential to use proper body mechanics, or even to get assistance if the object is too heavy, in order to avoid injury.

Studies maintain that exercise is more effective at treating cases of simple low back pain than bed rest and drugs. This is ironic, because when a person's back hurts, just the thought of exercise is painful. In truth, drugs only mask pain symptoms. Exercise, on the other hand, is like oil for joints in the spine. In addition to improving blood flow to discs, joints and muscles, exercise makes muscles more flexible, stronger and resistant to future strain.

When you feel the onset of back or neck pain, there are a few rules of thumb to follow to help relieve the pain at home:

Hot and Cold Packs

First, be sure to put ice on the injured area, then alternate with heat. The ice helps reduce inflammation by constricting the surrounding blood vessels and reducing blood flow and swelling. Never apply ice for more than five minutes at a time, because it could freeze the skin and soft tissue. After two days, heat should be applied to the area to increase blood flow.

Anti-Inflammatory Medication

advilNon-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) such as Advil, Nuprin or Ibuprofen have an advantage over other painkillers, because they also reduce swelling. People who are allergic to ibuprofen should try Aleve, Tylenol or Aspirin to reduce pain.

If you experience an attack of back pain, start taking NSAIDs for the next few days, as instructed on the bottle. They are much more effective if you can maintain a constant level of the drugs in your body. Try to avoid taking the pills and letting them wear off, before taking another dose the next day.

Keep Bed Rest to a Minimum

patient walking for pain relief of low back pain and sciaticaWhen you hurt, your body is telling you to stop doing the activity that is causing the pain. Back or neck pain can cause almost any activity to hurt. Lying down for a few days can seem like the most logical solution. However, more than two days of bed rest can cause the muscles in the back to weaken, making activity more painful and recovery slower. After one or two days, get up and move around. Take a slow walk to get moving again.

Put Your Best Foot Forward

Walking around the neighborhood is a great way to alleviate back pain. Walking helps stretch out muscles and get the blood flowing. Stiff muscles will start to relax. An alternative to walking outside is to walk in a pool. This alleviates pressure from the spine, joints and ligaments.
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SPECIALTY CENTERS
  • Spine
    • The Spine Center are referred back and neck pain patients across the New England States.
  • Hand & Wrist
    • The Hand & Wrist center deals with both surgical and nonsurgical treatment of conditions and problems.
  • Joint Replacement
    • The Joint Replacement Center provides the most modern treatment options for knee, hip, and shoulder replacement
  • Pediatric Orthopedics
    • The Pediatric Orthopedic Center consist of three surgeons who specialize in the care of children.
  • Foot & Ankle
    • The Foot & Ankle Center involves clinical teams that specialize in foot and ankle surgery.
  • Shoulder & Elbow
    • The Shoulder & Elbow Center includes orthopedic surgeons and therapists who specialize in shoulder and elbow.
  • Sports Medicine
    • The Sports Medicine Center helps those with sports-related injuries recover quickly to return to activity.
  • Trauma & Fracture
    • The Trauma & Facture center works closesly together with Rhode Island Hospital's trauma specialists to identify injuries.
  • Oncology
    • Our orthopedic oncology center includes the expertise of a specialist in oncology and reconstructive surgery.
  • Cartilage Repair Center
    Cartilage Repair
    • The Cartilage Repair Center offers state-of-the-art treatment of joint cartilage lesions
  • Orthodirect for sprains, fractures, work accidents, sports injuries
    Ortho Direct
    • Ortho Direct treats patients with urgent orthopedic needs from sprains, fractures, work accidents & sports injuries.
Brochures & Journals
  • Back to Life Journal
    • Subscribe to our Back to Life Journal to read information on the latest advances on joint replacement, sports medicine, orthopedic problems and back and neck pain.
Home Remedy Book
  • Home Remedy Book
    • Have back or neck pain? Learn what causes symptoms and the home remedies that relieve pain. University Orthopedics mails out Home Remedy Books to residents throughout the New England area.
About Us

University Orthopedics in Providence, Rhode Island, is a regional referral center for patients with back and neck pain, joint pain, sports medicine problems, shoulder pain, hand problems, hip and knee pain, and foot and ankle injury. University Orthopedics utilizes fellowship-trained, sub-specialized physicians to treat a variety of orthopedic problems.

  • PROVIDENCE 1
    2 Dudley Street, Suite 200
    Providence, RI 02905
    Phone: 401-457-1500

  • PROVIDENCE 2
    100 Butler Drive
    Providence, RI 02906
    401-277-0790

  • MIDDLETOWN
    345 Valley Rd.
    Middletown, RI 02842
    401-457-1500

  • EAST GREENWICH
    1598 South County Trail, Suite 100
    East Greenwich, RI 02818
    Phone: 401-884-1177