Relieving And Healing Back Pain

Most of us will experience back pain at some point in our lives. Here are some tips on what you can do to relieve and heal back pain.

At some time in our lives, we've all experienced some form of back pain. It's estimated that 80 billion dollars has been spent each year due because of back pain and that dollar amount is on the rise. 8 out of 10 people will experience problems with their backs during the course of their life, mostly occurring during the ages of 30 to 50 as these are our most productive periods.

What people fail to realize is that...

Low back pain is the second most common cause of missed workdays

Low back pain is the leading cause of disability between the ages of 19-45

Low back pain is the number one leading impairment in occupational injuries

It isn't the "˜sudden injuries' that bring on back pain for most people. It is largely due to the repeated stress to the back over many years. You may not experience the effects for years but it will catch up with you eventually. These repeated injuries add up and can slowly cause degeneration to your spine. Many episodes of low back pain are partially due to degenerative changes that have occurred over the years. The overall condition of the spine and your health usually determines how fast you will recover and your risk of the chronic back pain.

Where does Back Pain come from?

There is a ménage of reasons that cause back pain. Sometimes it only takes one thing to bring on the aches, and other times it's a mixture of two or more reasons.

-Poor posture - this is a very common reason because we all do it but I don't think we really realize what it does to our bodies. It actually shifts the body off balance and puts tremendous pressure on our back and spine.

-Lack of exercise - without proper consistent exercise, the muscles in our back become apathetic and atrophied (waste away).

-Anything that puts pressure on the back muscles or nerves - extra weight or a sudden movement or twist can cause muscle strain.

-Illness or damage to the spine can also cause pain - the cause of most acute back pain is unknown, but probably is due to minor strains, sprains, and overuse.

-Emotional stress will increase your back pain - the tightening of the back muscles is a common reaction to any stress and will cause problems for you. When you feel stressed, remember to take deep breaths and regulate your breathing as best as you can as this will aid in reducing tightened muscles (which causes a restriction of blood flow to the muscles).

-Other possible causes include ruptured intervertebral disc (deterioration from constant stresses to the back), spinal stenosis, osteoarthritis, an injury or accident, and rheumatic-related problems.

-Some back pains originate from elsewhere in the body due to other health conditions - we need to learn to take care of our bodies and live healthy.



What can we do to reduce the stress to our back?

Maintain good posture

How many times have we heard someone say to us; "Stand up straight!"? It's a good reminder to healthy posture but I think many of us take that for granted. Good posture can reduce our chances of back pain. When we slouch it's because our back muscles are tired of holding us up. Why? Because we have BAD posture. If you have to sit for long periods of time (office, etc.) make sure you have a chair with a high straight back and sit right against it. It will help to support your posture and your back. If you know that you have bad posture, start practicing to sit up straight today. It will be difficult at first because you essentially will be re-training your muscles but it's an important step to reduce your chances of future back pain.

Weight Loss

For those of you who struggle with your weight, here's another reason to fight all the harder to get into a healthy diet. Extra weight will always lead to future back problems. There is no way around that. I can't count how many people have back problems due to obesity. You need to work at maintaining a healthy weight for your body structure and don't give up! This is a choice between walking and not walking for life. If you don't, this could lead to future back surgeries and even some knee/hip surgeries/replacements.

Get up and stretch

In most cases, depending on our jobs, we are remaining in the same position for far too long. This will increase our chances of back pain/trauma to the back. Whether you are standing, sitting, and bent over - make sure you change your position and stretch your back and limbs constantly.

Exercise

Exercise is key in reducing your chances of back pain. Join a gym or start exercising in your home. Start walking daily with a friend for 25 minutes or more. Whatever you choose to do, if you already have trauma to your back make sure that you consult your physician before beginning your exercise routine. Also make sure that you speak with a fitness instructor (if you sign up at a gym) and discuss what would be best for your situation. Very important - make sure you use the exercise equipment properly! Many back injuries come from incorrect usage of exercise equipment!

Hot/Cold Therapy

Hot and cold therapy can help to reduce back pain. Heat relaxes muscles and soothes away the pains. Cold numbs the pain and relieves the muscles. Sometimes it's as simple as taking a nice long hot shower or soaking in a warm/hot bath for an hour. Heating pads and warm compresses also work wonders. You can toggle between hot and cold by applying heat to the pain for 15 minutes and then switching to cold compresses (ice pack, frozen vegetable bag - best to use as it molds around your back, or a large ice cube massaged around the area) for another 15 minutes.

Avoid repetitious motions

Do your best to avoid doing the same motion over and over again such as bending and lifting, or twisting and turning. This causes stress to the back. If you have no choice, make sure that you bend and lift wisely. Do not bend over and lift. Bend at the knees and lift, keeping your back straight.

Use back supports when lifting or bending often

There are tons of great back braces that offer you good support during any strenuous activity. Most companies enforce back brace wear in the workplace today. The only problem with that is that over a long period of wearing a back brace your muscles will begin to rely on your back brace (the beginnings of atrophy). Make sure that you only have the brace tightened during your active times. When you are standing or just sitting, undo your brace. Braces with suspenders are the best for this because you don't have to take it off and put it back on. You can just loosen the brace and tighten it when you need it.

Rest

Rest is key in reducing and recovering from back pain. Most of us will experience fatigue and "˜twinges' in our back but rarely will we stop and rest when we do. When you feel a twinge you need to slow down - you're tiring yourself out. Stop and rest. We need to start listening to what our bodies are telling us.

Use the pillows

There are orthopedic pillows available in many stores now. These pillows can offer great lower lumbar support when driving or sitting at a desk for long hours, and even when sleeping - giving the neck the proper support.

When the back pain gets bad

Consult your physician. There are many avenues of treatment available to you such as massage, chiropractic measures, reflexology, acupuncture, physical therapy, occupational therapy, yoga, etc. If the pain is ever accompanied by any of the following, a doctor should be consulted immediately: weakness or numbness in one or both legs, pain going down one leg below the knee, pain from a fall or injury, pain accompanied by fever, pain that continues to intermit sleep after three nights, and back pain that remains after six weeks of home treatment (rest, hot/cold therapy, medication).

Back pain is common in this world that we live in. Stress is high and we need to learn how to live healthy lives. There is no quick fix or total cure for most back problems. It is up to us how we live our lives and how we treat and take care of our bodies. If we misuse our bodies, we will pay for it in the end. Think about how you're living today - are you going to experience repercussions in the future? If so, you may want to re-think your lifestyle patterns and adopt healthier ways to live.

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