Oh my aching back.
Back pain, especially low back pain, will cause most folks to seek professional health care at least once in their lifetime. Sooner or later most of us will have an aching back. Whether the discomfort is the end result of an injury, poor body mechanics (such as lifting or bending techniques), a sedentary lifestyle or excess weight; there are ways to keep the pain from becoming debilitating and life-altering.
The good news is there are preventative measures you can take to keep back pain at bay. If you should become a victim of one of the common causes of back pain there are some relatively simple things that you can do to keep yourself functional and able to continue with your normal daily activities.
- Heat or ice will help lessen the pain and reduce inflammation. Often alternating between hot and cold works best.
- Movement, as can be tolerated, helps maintain and preserve flexibility.
- Professionally supervised exercise, most specifically strengthening exercises, aid in pain reduction and foster increased the range of motion. Your health care provider (physician, chiropractor, physical therapist) can design a corrective program specifically for you.
- Physical Therapy modalities will help with core strength and better body mechanics.
When back pain strikes, focus on getting sufficient pain relief. This will allow you to actively pursue a professional rehabilitation program, and learn ways to prevent further injury. Manual manipulation is a technique applied by a chiropractor that results in decreased pain by relieving pressure, relaxing muscles, and increasing circulation. Therapeutic massage, gentle stretching, and mild aerobic exercises are all proven methods of alleviating back pain, thus allowing a return to normal work responsibilities and daily functions. Adopting positive lifestyle changes will certainly improve discomfort over time. Maintain a healthy weight, stop smoking and concentrate on better posture.
There are medications, over-the-counter and prescription, that are useful in pain management. All medicines have the possibility of side effects and food-drug interactions. Always consult with a healthcare professional before taking any medication or herbal supplements.
Exercise is an essential element of back pain treatment. A physical therapist or chiropractor will help you design a program geared for your specific problem and focused on making your spine strong and flexible.
Walking is a low impact aerobic exercise beneficial to the lower back by increasing spinal stability. In addition, walking strengthens the muscles of the legs and feet and increases circulation. Added benefits of walking include weight control and preventing bone loss that can lead to osteoporosis. Begin slowly, say 5-10 minutes twice a week; then increase to a 30-minute walk 3-4 days a week. Keep up a good brisk pace and concentrate on your breathing. Ideally, you should be able to carry on a conversation while walking. Recruit a walking buddy and have some fun.
Stretching can do wonders for back pain, but stretching is not a warm-up activity. It is important to remember that stretching cold muscles may cause more pain. Try taking a short 5-minute walk to get those muscles warm and ready for a stretching workout. Consult a trained professional before you begin. A physical therapist or chiropractor will tailor a routine that will focus on the specific muscle group(s) to facilitate pain management. Schedule an appointment to learn how to keep your movements smooth and symmetrical. Following expert direction will ensure that you are holding the stretch for the right amount of time and that you recognise when your body has had enough.
If you spend the majority of your day at a desk, you may experience back pain and stiffness from what is now being called the “sitting disease”. Remaining inactive for long periods of time will slow your metabolism as well as increase the likelihood of pain and tightness. Take short breaks and walk around the office, do some simple stretches and investigate the possibility of using a stability ball chair. This type of seat will keep your core muscles engaged and help keep them strong. While prolonged use may actually lead to additional lower back problems, try alternating a regular chair for a stability chair throughout the day. Some forward-thinking offices are even offering stand up desks and workstations.
Be extra cautious when lifting heavy objects, keep your back straight and lift with your legs. Check things out before you lift. Even small objects can be extremely heavy. Give the object a push to try to get a feel for the approximate weight. If it doesn’t move easily, get help before you move it.
Get plenty of rest and re-evaluate your sleeping position. Check in with your healthcare provider for suggestions on a position that will be best for you.
For women especially, the right accessories can make the outfit, but the wrong ones will lead to increased back pain and sciatica problems. Walking in high heel shoes will upset your center of gravity and strain the lower back. On the same note, carrying an overstuffed handbag pulls the body to one side, also resulting in pain and discomfort. Switch hands periodically when toting a purse with handles. Try using an over-the-shoulder bag. Distribute the weight by placing the strap on the opposite shoulder from the bag.
Stress can have a negative impact on your overall health, and will ultimately exacerbate the severity of your back pain. When you are stressed, for any reason, your muscles tense, causing pain in the lower back. Activities such as meditation, yoga, and tai chi will help you relax and lessen the discomfort.
When you understand the causes of your condition you are better able to make informed choices when it comes to the management of the pain. Education is the key to living a better life. Contact us, we are here to help.