People can relieve RA-related back pain at home using the following treatments and remedies:
- Ice packs
Massaging the area with cloth-covered ice packs for 5 to 10 minutes at a time within the first 48 hours of feeling the pain may help ease the pain. For pain that lasts longer than 48 hours, try applying heat to help the muscles relax.
Taking over-the-counter (OTC) nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication (NSAIDs) may reduce the stiffness and may help to lower back pain caused by RA.
People with RA should always check with their doctor before taking any new medications.
- Gentle stretches
Performing gentle stretching exercises and staying as mobile as possible. While resting at the first sign of pain may be beneficial, movement can help prevent excessive stiffness and discomfort in the back.
Water-based exercises and stretches may be helpful as the water helps to support the joints, making it easier to move them.
- Stress relief
Taking steps to relax and relieve anxiety. Stress can further worsen pain and lead to muscle tension.
The following activities can help to relieve stress and tension:
- listening to peaceful music
- watching a favorite film or program
- talking with friends
- Lifestyle choices
Taking steps to achieve better overall health. Quitting smoking and losing weight can enhance a person’s quality of life when they have RA and back pain. Eating an anti-inflammatory diet may also help.
- Alternative therapies
Some people may also benefit from massage therapy and physical therapy.
If a person is experiencing significant back pain caused by RA, a doctor may prescribe medication, such as disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) or biologic agents. These medications do not cure RA, but they can slow its progression. This can help prevent severe damage to the spinal joints.
In some cases, a person’s back pain indicate severe problems with the back joints. Some people may need surgery to reduce pain and prevent further disability.
The surgical approach depends on a person’s symptoms and where they feel the pain. Examples of surgeries include laminectomy or spinal fusion. Doctors usually only recommend these procedures as a last resort.