Inflammatory back pain (IBP) is a chronic condition associated with several inflammatory conditions that may affect mechanics of the spine and joints. IBP is often concentrated in the lumbar spine region but may also be associated with buttock pain that alternates from side to side. It can be present in other chronic conditions such as arthritis, and caused by a combination of different conditions.

What is the best anti-inflammatory therapy for back pain?

Managing IBP typically involves prescription medication — usually a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). If you adhere to your doctor’s medical treatment plan, you should successfully manage IBP-associated discomfort. Non-adherence can lead to loss of efficacy and potentially serious complications, including spinal deformities and fractures.

Unfortunately, there is no magic pill that addresses lower back pain in everyone. In fact, a 2017 study found that NSAIDs only worked for one in six people. If your symptoms worsen, you may lose the ability to work or engage in normal day-to-day activities.

Therefore, in addition to sticking with your doctor’s prescribed treatment plan, follow these 8 steps to maximize your chances of defeating inflammatory back pain.

1. Maintain Physical Activity to Ease Back Pain

With mechanical back pain (pain caused by stress or strain) exercise can cause pain symptoms to worsen. On the other hand, with inflammatory back pain, physical activity actually improves pain symptoms. As long as it’s doctor-approved physical activity. Your doctor will likely send you to a physical therapist to learn stretches that help maintain good spinal posture and ease pain around your back. In addition, certain exercises can help strengthen back muscles. However, you should avoid high-impact exercises that could potentially damage your spine. But remember to move in moderation and avoid high-impact exercises that could potentially damage your spine more. Stay away from strenuous activities like gardening and avoid motions that may have caused the pain in the first place.

2. Practice Deep Breathing Exercises to Maintain Lung Capacity

Over the past 25 years, research has shown that perceived pain levels can drop if you can induce a relaxation response. In particular, relaxation exercises such as deep breathing, meditation, and yoga, can do wonders for pain-related symptoms. Deep breathing exercises involve repeated deep inhaling and exhaling to calm your mental state and also reduce inflammation in your rib joints. However, if your IBP progresses into ankylosing spondylitis (AS), all the joints surrounding your spinal and rib joints can become chronically inflamed. This could limit your ability to breathe, causing extreme pain at every breath, particularly during strenuous activity. There are existing treatments available to reduce and manage pain symptoms, but no known cure for AS.

3. Lift Heavy Items with Proper Form

Although staying active is great for IBP, your doctor and physical therapist will likely advise you to avoid lifting heavy objects. If you must move something heavy you should use techniques recommended by physical therapists, such as using leg muscles instead of back muscles. Even without pain, lifting with proper form leads to better results, prevents injury, and increases overall strength. Follow these tips the next time you’re lifting a heavy object:

  1. Keep a wide support base
  2. Squat
  3. Maintain good posture
  4. Slowly lift
  5. Hold load close to body
  6. Take slow, small steps

4. Be Careful When Driving

The act of driving itself won’t worsen your IBP symptoms. However, you should drive carefully to avoid sudden movements of the neck or spine. Because with IBP, any impact—light or strong—can lead to serious complications.

If your pain suddenly intensifies while driving, you can employ diversions to distract yourself from the pain. Listen to some new music, tune into a podcast, or listen to an audio book. Having something to safely take your mind off the pain can make a huge difference.

5. Choose a Suitable Mattress

Maintaining a good posture while you rest is important to prevent IBP symptoms from worsening. People with IBP is recommended to sleep on a firm mattress—not too hard and not too soft. Also, try to sleep on your abdomen to maintain good posture. Just 30 minutes each night will go a long way.

A good mattress will not only relieve pain and discomfort, it will also help you sleep and feel better overall. According to the Scandinavian Journal of Pain, poor sleep was linked to chronic lower back pain.

Choosing the right mattress is important, but so is your sleep position. Sleeping in a bad position or on a mattress without support can worsen your back pain. Here are some general tips on sleep positions:

6. Make Your Home Fall-Proof to Prevent Fractures

Since IBP increases your risk for spinal fractures, keeping your home free of “trip points” to prevent falls is crucial. Here are some tips you can use to create a fall-proof home:

  1. Remove items that could cause you to slip or trip while walking. For examples, small furniture, small decor, pet bowls, electrical cords and throw rugs.
  2. Arrange your furniture in a way that creates a clear pathway for walking. Particularly near stairs, it’s important to remove items that may act as tripping hazards.
  3. Ensure carpets are secured by using double-sided tape or non-slip rugs.
  4. Beware of slippery surfaces near the shower and faucets that can pose a tripping hazard. Use non-slip items in the bathroom such as non-slip strips or wax, and rubber mats on the floor near your bathtub.

7. Consider Using a Raised Toilet Seat for Comfort

A raised toilet seat is taller than standard toilet seats by 2 to 6 inches, making it easier and safer to use the washroom. For elderly people and those with IBP, a raised toilet seat can relieve discomfort, prevent unnecessary join pain and reduce the risk of falling. Especially for IBP patients with spinal deformity and severe stiffness. By reducing the distance between you and the toilet seat, less strain is applied on the legs, hips, and knees.

8. Modify Your Work Space for Correct Posture 

If you’re battling IBP, and working in an environment where you sit at your desk for long periods of time, try these tips to improve your posture:

  1. Ask your boss for a standing desk or an ergonomic chair – or both.
  2. Alternate between standing and sitting throughout the day.
  3. Organize your computer screen and keyboard so that you’re not hunched over your desk while you are working.
  4. Avoid sitting for more than 30 minutes at a time. Stand up frequently to stretch or go for a quick walk.
  5. Avoid leaning over the sink when washing your hands or face. Keep the right amount of curvature in the back to reduce nerve pressure and back pain.

Kratom and Inflammatory Back Pain

The main active ingredients of Kratom are the alkaloids mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine. There is evidence that these alkaloids have analgesic (pain relief), anti-inflammatory, and other relieving effects. For these reasons, Kratom is often used to ease symptoms of fibromyalgia, knee and joint pains, and other chronic conditions. And it might also work for IBP as well.

However, there haven’t been enough clinical trials to help understand the health effects of Kratom. Before deciding to use Kratom for medical use, it is important to do your own research and speak with a healthcare professional.