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Back Therapy: Tips for Dealing & Living with Back Pain
Back pain is one of the most common health problems experienced among people. Eight out of ten people will experience back pain some time in their life. It is estimated, that about thirty-one million people in America suffer from lower back pain. The American Chiropractic Association has stated that low back pain is the single leading cause of disability worldwide and that eighty percent of the population, at some point in their life, will experience back pain.
Back pain can be caused by pretty much anything. The wrong movement or even a normal repeated movement can cause back pain. The most common reasons for back pain are ruptured or bulging disks, arthritis, scoliosis, osteoporosis and strained muscles or ligaments. Poor posture, lifting an object that is too heavy or the wrong way, muscle spasm or an abrupt movement is also common reasons for back pain. Cancer and infection such as shingles can also contribute to back pain.
Whatever the cause, it’s important to seek medical advice to find a way to treat it. Most back pain may go away on its own, but others need proper treatment and/or medicine. It’s crucial to note that some back pain may never go away. The good news is that there are ways to deal and live with this pain so you can live your life in the most comfortable way.
Assess Your Lifestyle
If you have started experiencing back pain, the first thing you want to do is assess yourself and everything around you. There are simple ways you can alleviate some types of back pain just by changing some bad habits. Take note when the back pain occurs, what you are doing when it occurs, and how severe the pain is. Analyzing these patterns can help you determine what areas you can fix and possibly reduce or get rid of pain altogether.
Check Your Posture
Bad posture can cause back pain. If you are experiencing back pain while sitting in a chair it could be due to bad posture. To analyze this, have someone take a picture of you while sitting in a chair. If you notice you are slouched over and not sitting up against the back of the chair with your feet flat to the grown, then your posture is wrong. Chances are, if you are experiencing bad posture while sitting down then your posture is probably incorrect while walking too.
Maintaining correct posture keeps your spine and the muscles surrounding your spine strong; preventing you from experiencing any back pain. Constant slouching or drooping can cause the muscles around your spine to become weak. Weak muscles have a harder time maintaining balance which has a negative impact on your back, resulting in back pain. Improving your posture can easily alleviate some pain with practice and time.
Check Your Lifting Technique
If you experience back pain while or after lifting an object, then you may not be lifting correctly. Picking up objects that are too heavy for you or incorrectly can cause strain in your back and/or cause bulging disks. Make sure when you are lifting objects that your feet are shoulder-width apart and that you bend down at the knees not your waist. Get as close to the object as you can and slowly lift straight up maintaining correct posture; stand straight up with your shoulders back. Never bend down to lift objects or carry large objects over your shoulders. If you find yourself above the object rather than level with it, stop what you are doing and start over. It might seem silly to do this even with smaller objects, but the goal is to get into a good habit to lower your risks.
Don’t Live a Sedentary Lifestyle
If you find that you have constant back pain but are confused because you really don’t do much throughout your day besides sitting around due to driving or working in front of a computer, then the problem could be simple. You are living a sedentary lifestyle and you need to find ways to add more activity in your day. Always sitting or lying down causes back pain for a couple of reasons.
You probably have poor posture, which as stated above, causes your muscles to be weak and it may also add on some extra weight. The extra pounds can weigh on your spine making it harder to have proper posture. If you find this to be true, you can easily fix this habit by adding in a few small activities each day. Don’t do anything too major, too quickly, because the sedentary lifestyle has made your back weak and more acceptable to injury. Start by walking around your house or neighborhood for five to ten minutes every day and then add in more time as you go along. Eventually, you will notice a big change not only in your back but your happiness as well.
These changes might not make all your back pain go away, but it could help reduce it as time goes on. These bad habits are the most common cause of back pain. If you still experience a high amount of back pain visit a doctor.
Potential Medical Interventions
Learning to deal with back pain is a must if you want to live a long and happy life. But, it’s important to first seek medical attention to make sure your back pain can’t be treated or at least reduced as you build better habits. Not only that, back pain can be a sign of a much more serious complication such as cancer. A doctor can help you pinpoint where the pain is coming from and determine if there are any underlying medical issues that may be causing the pain such as inflammation or scoliosis.
The most common treatment for back pain is medication. This includes pain relievers, narcotic painkillers, muscle relaxers and steroids. Painkillers and muscle relaxers are very controversial because they are known to be habit forming. If you find that they help you continue your day relatively pain free, and that you are using them safely, then nothing is wrong with taking them. Just take caution and understand the side effects.
If you are experiencing severe back pain, then physical therapy is a good potential treatment. It is used to strengthen those areas of your body that are weak or can’t move around very well. A physical therapist will use heat, cold, water or electrical stimulation to reduce any swelling or pain you may have, and then teach you an exercise program to rebuild your strength.
Chiropractors are trained medical professionals that work directly with injuries related to the spine. Back pain is treated by manually adjusting or manipulating the spine using special methods and equipment. These adjustments help reduce pain by restoring the functionality of the spine. Do not try cracking your back at home, go to a professional who has a good reputation as an adjustment done by someone who has no idea what they’re doing could be very dangerous.
When no other treatments have successfully relieved your back pain, then surgery is an option. Just like the above treatments, it may or may not help. This is because doctors are not able to predict one hundred percent if it will work or not. Spinal fusion is the most popular type of back surgery. During a spinal fusion the surgeon will fuse together parts of the vertebrae to reduce stretching of a nerve possibly responsible for pain. As with any surgery, there are major risks that could be life threatening and recovery may take weeks and require a lot of missed work.
Back pain can also be associated with the shoes you wear. You may even be experiencing unevenness from your legs. A doctor can easily measure each of your legs to determine if this is the cause. If so, you can help with this issue by wearing special shoes with inserts that correct the problem.
Heating Pads or Ice Packs
Heating pads can be used to reduce back pain because it is believed that it warms and relaxes the muscles surrounding the spine. Ice packs can reduce back pain too because it reduces swelling and inflammation around the spine. In fact, if you have nerve pain, such as a pinched sciatica nerve, then ice is better than heat to help you get relief. Tip: Use small paper cups to freeze water, and then peel back the paper to reveal the ice to rub on the back.
Exercise and Diet Always Helps
Living with continuous back pain can really put a drain on your attitude and overall health. It’s not easy and takes a lot of work to even get out of bed. To prevent your days from becoming harder you must take notice and make an effort to improve your overall health. Proper diet and exercise will increase your happiness and even reduce or help manage your back pain. When it comes to exercise you should first contact a medical professional for advice. Certain activities can cause more harm than good.