Banishing Back Pain
Learn what causes back pain, how it can be prevented and what to do if it strikes.
Back pain is one of the most common complaints for which patients visit their doctors. In fact, experts estimate that nearly 80 percent of people will experience back pain in their lives.
Causes of Back Pain
Your back is made of many different moving pieces that connect to help stability and movement. Bones, joints, ligaments and muscles are all intertwined, and injury or damage to any one of them can result in back pain.
You can irritate joints, sprain ligaments or rupture discs, sometimes with just a simple movement. Back pain also can be caused by problems and diseases of internal organs, such as kidney stones; blood infections; scoliosis (an abnormal curvature of the spine); arthritis; and types of cancer.
If you experience back pain or an injury, one to two days of rest can help, but resist the urge to stay in bed. Getting up, moving around and taking over-the-counter pain relievers can help alleviate stiffness, improve mobility and aid recovery.
“If you work at a desk, support your back while sitting using a cushion or lumbar support,” advises physical therapist Konstantinos Mavropoulos of Excel Orthopedic Rehabilitation in Rutherford. “Avoid twisting positions or repeated movements.”
Applying heat to a sore back can increase blood flow and speed recovery of acute or chronic back pain. Treating with ice can reduce inflammation and ease pain. Sometimes alternating between the two is the best remedy. Exercise is not advised for treatment of acute back pain, but stretching and core strengthening can help alleviate chronic back pain.
“And it’s important to complete a proper warm up to prepare the body for your workout,” Mavropoulos adds.
When to See a Doctor
Most of the time, back pain will subside on its own with or without treatment, says Mavropoulos. However, it’s a good idea to see a doctor if you have tingling or numbness, if the pain is the result of a fall or injury, or if pain doesn’t improve with rest.
It’s also important to be evaluated by a doctor if you have pain combined with trouble urinating, numbness or weakness in your legs, fever or unintentional weight loss. These could be signs of a more serious problem.
Did You Know?
24%Of adults surveyed reported back pain within the past three months
$50 BILLION+ The amount Americans spend treating back pain each year
2ND Lower-back pain is the second leading cause of disability worldwide
80% Of people will experience back pain in their lifetime
5 Tips for a Healthy Back
- Maintain a healthy diet and weight
- Remain physically active and incorporate core-strengthening exercises into your routine
- Wear comfortable and supportive shoes
- Maintain proper posture
- Bend at the knees to lift heavy objects and avoid any twisting motion while lifting