Mayo Health Care
Taking Back Pain In Stride
One of the most common problems among adults is back pain. Many experience back pain caused by the daily routines such as spending too much time sitting while at work, or when driving for a long period of time. Lifting heavy furnitures while cleaning up at home, working in the garden, or lifting weights in the gym can also cause back pain. These activities can sometimes put so much pressure and weight on your back causing low back injuries such as muscle strain or spasm, sprain of ligaments, joint problems, or slipped disk. When we have back pain, it affects our daily functions. The feeling of pain can be from slightly tolerable to unbearably painful.
Knowing what caused your back pain is something you need to discuss with your doctor in order to obtain back pain relief. When a disk between the bones of the spine swells or bulges and starts pressing on nerves, a slipped disk or herniated disk occurs. This is often caused by twisting while lifting. When you have a slipped disk, you may experience difficulty in doing regular tasks or activities like sitting and bending. When the injury is severe, you will have the tendency to avoid movement due to intense pain.
A lot of people don't realize what caused their slipped disk but it is worthy to know that the injury will not lead to paralysis, and back pain relief is readily available. Treatment options for an herniated disk or slipped disk can fall into non-surgical or surgical methods. Both treatments have risk and benefit factors. It is important that you discuss it with your doctor. However, most back pain can be relieved by a few simple methods that doctors would suggest to try non-surgical means first to reduce irritation of the nerve. Natural pain relief such as enough bed rest, proper posture when sitting, walking, and lying, as well as regular exercise can do the tricks. When sleeping, the best position is to sleep on your side with your knees bent. A pillow under your head is recommended to support your neck and you may use a pillow in between your knees. You can also lie on your back on a firm mattress with pillows under your knees. Or you can lie on the floor with your hips and knees bent and your feet on a chair.
This takes the pressure and weight off your back. You may only need about two days of this sort of rest for a hurt back. Too much bed rest can cause your muscles to weaken and slows down your recovery. Try to walk around, even when it sometimes hurt, for a few minutes every hour. Such regular movement can help maintain muscle tone but limit activities such as prolonged sitting, lifting, and bending which can aggravate the symptoms. Proper sitting position can help ease back pain. Choose chairs with straight backs or low-back support. See to it that you keep your knees a little higher than your hips. Make adjustments with your seat or use a low stool to prop your feet on. When you turn, move your whole body rather than by just twisting at your waist.
Driving for long hours can strain your back. Try to sit straight by moving the seat forward to keep you from leaning forward when you reach for the controls. It may help to use a small pillow or rolled towel behind your lower back if you must drive or sit for a long time. People whose work requires them to stand for a long period of time must find a way to rest one foot on a low stool from time to time, and try to switch with the other foot every 5 to 15 minutes. Maintaining a good posture is necessary in order to avoid back pain. Always try to keep your ears, shoulders, and hips in a straight line with your head up and your stomach pulled in. To relax painful muscle spasms, try using heating pads for 20 to 30 minutes at a time. Likewise, ice packs and massages may also give the same back pain relief benefits. Muscle relaxant medications and anti-inflammatory drugs may be used to relieve pain and discomfort until the body heals itself. However, some non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as naproxen sodium may increase your risk of heart attack and stroke.
Always consult with your doctor any medication to determine whether the potential back pain relief benefits outweigh the risks for you. When nonsurgical therapy does not ease your discomfort or the pain is getting worse and unbearable, your doctor may recommend surgical procedure as an option. There are various surgeries available that range from the minimally invasive methods to a more serious procedure such as spinal fusion. The complexity of the surgery will depend on the severity of your condition. Rehabilitation programs may vary depending on the procedure the patient went through and the doctor's preference. Anyone who desires to regain health should consider the following: · Exercises to strengthen your lower back and abdominal muscles; · Exercises to improve your posture; · Stretches to increase the flexibility of your spine and legs; and · Exercises to maintain your cardiovascular conditioning while you recover. Prolonged bed rest is not advised as it can lead to a decrease in your overall physical condition. Get up and move with caution. Most of all, it is important to always follow your doctor's recommendations regarding specific activities you should participate in.
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