Practical Home Modifications for Back Pain Relief
How to adapt furniture, bedding, and other areas of your home to make life easier for loved ones
By Sara Calabro
Medically Reviewed by Christine Wilmsen Craig, MD
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When back pain strikes, it can be a constant struggle to get comfortable. Even the simplest of tasks, such as getting up from a chair, becomes painful. But with just a few modifications and additions around the house, family members can help provide back pain relief to those they care about.
“When adjusting your home for someone with back pain, safety should be your primary concern,” says Cynthia Gormezano, MPT, owner of Cynergy Physical Therapy in New York City. “The goal is to make changes that help keep the spine straight.”
Room-by-room, here are some suggestions for bringing back pain relief to your loved one:
Back Pain Relief in the Bathroom
The bathroom can become a difficult place to navigate for someone who is suffering from upper back pain or lower back pain. Try the following ideas:
- Install a raised toilet seat.These seats fit directly on top of a standard toilet and provide back pain relief because they make it easier to get up, putting less strain on the lower back.
- Put in grab bars, especially in the shower/bath area, near the toilet, and sink to make it easier to sit and stand. Be sure to place the bars at a height that will make them easy to reach.
- Apply anti-slip devices(tape and decals) to floor of tubs and showers to provide traction.
- Secure bath matsto the floor with no-slip tape to avoid falls.
- Invest in a in-shower seator bench to allow for a more comfortable shower.
Back Pain Relief in the Bedroom
Because we spend such a good portion of our lives sleeping, making a few tweaks in the bedroom makes a lot of sense. Try these tips:
- Get a firm mattress.“How you move around in bed is really important,” says Gormezano. “A firm mattress allows a person with back pain to do something called ‘log rolling,’ which means moving your body as one unit opposed to bending or twisting.”
- Try a body pillow.Side sleepers looking for back pain relief should sleep with a pillow between the knees to prevent them from touching. “You want to keep your pelvis level,” says Gormezano. “If your knees are touching, you create an angle at your sacroiliac joint, which puts strain on your back.”
Back Pain Relief in the Living Room
These additions to your living space can be helpful when dealing with back pain:
- Opt for high, firm chairs and sofa.Low, soft furniture should be avoided because they are hard for people with back pain to get out of. “You don’t want anything that is too easy to sink into,” says Gormezano. “When seated, your knees should be at a 90-degree angle. You never want your knees to be above your hips because getting up from that position puts excessive strain on the lower back.”
- Use lumbar cushions.It helps some people with back pain to use a lumbar cushion when sitting on a couch or in a chair to keep their spine erect. “You don’t want the spine to go into flexion,” says Gormezano. But, she warns, “Sometimes lumbar pillows can put someone into too much extension, so you have to be cautious when using them.”
With just a few modifications such as these, your home can be “back” in style for back-pain-free living for years to come.
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