Many Americans will experience back pain at some point in their lives.
It’s not just the physical aching that makes back pain agonizing. It’s everything that comes with it. Like not being up for or avoiding everyday activities.
The good news is, 95% of back pain is temporary and not serious.
Here are practical tips for back pain care and prevention:
Lifting with your back. Bending over to lift and overusing the back muscles are common causes of back injury. Whether raising a barbell or shoveling snow, focus on lifting with your legs to reduce strain on your back.
Poor posture. When you slouch, your muscles struggle to keep you balanced, which can cause back pain. Be mindful of your posture, especially at a desk.
Too much bed rest. While getting enough sleep is a good thing, there is such thing as too much bed rest. Make sure you’re up and active during the day.
Use a back support product. When you’re dealing with back pain, a hot/cold wrap can be an effective form of treatment. If it’s a new injury or your back is inflamed, use it cold. If you’re feeling stiff, you’ll want heat. And if you’ve battled back problems in the past, a back brace will provide lumbar support, which may help you avoid recurring injury.
Start an exercise routine. It can’t be stressed enough: exercise helps avoid back pain. If you currently don’t work out, find some sort of fitness routine. If you have back pain, try yoga or water aerobics to ease the pressure on your joints, while getting the benefits of exercise.
Switch your sleeping position. If you currently have back pain, talk to your doctor about the best sleep position. Sleeping on your stomach can be especially hard on your back.
Adjust your workstation. Simple ergonomic changes can mitigate the hazards of sitting at a desk. Assess your workspace and determine changes you can make, from trying a standing desk to putting your monitor on a stand to help your posture.
Change your mindset. We know chronic pain has a psychological component that can exacerbate pain. A positive shift in frame of mind could make a difference in the amount of pain felt or how quickly an injury heals.
Don’t Forget Basics:
Eat healthy foods. Eating a balanced diet that includes the right amount and variety of vitamins and nutrients can help reduce back problems by nourishing the bones, muscles, and other spinal structures. Calcium is particularly good for bone strength.
Reduce stress. Everyone feels stress sometimes. It’s important to find outlets that help you decompress and incorporate them into your life regularly. Exercise, yoga, and meditation are reliable routines. Laughter goes a long way, as well.
Get sleep. Sleep is proven to be vital to our overall health. But being well rested also helps you have better posture and pay more attention to the way you lift and move things.
Get up, move, and stretch. Whenever you’ve been sitting for 20-30 minutes, you should get up and walk around so you’re not getting locked into one position. If you’re feeling stiff, do some light stretching.
When Should You See A Doctor For Back Pain?
According to Mayo Clinic Staff, most back pain gets better within a few weeks without treatment. If you’re very uncomfortable, you can rest in bed for a day or two, but longer than that does more harm than good. Over-the-counter pain medications often help reduce back pain, as does the application of cold or heat to the painful area.
Schedule an office visit if:
Call your doctor if your back pain hasn’t improved after a week of home treatment or if your back pain:
- Is constant or intense, especially at night or when you lie down
- Spreads down one or both legs, especially if the pain extends below your knee
- Causes weakness, numbness or tingling in one or both legs
- Occurs with unintended weight loss
- Occurs with swelling or redness on your back
Seek emergency medical care if:
Call 911 or emergency medical help or have someone drive you to the emergency room if your back pain:
- Occurs after a high-impact car crash, bad fall or sports injury
- Causes new bowel or bladder control problems
- Occurs with a fever
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