Back pain is very common and most people experience some form of back pain in their lives. Back pain can be short lived or endure for long periods of time, and even be unrelenting for a lifetime. The pain experienced can also differ from mild to moderate to extremely severe. Back pain can affect your quality of life as well as your day to day activities. You need to be proactive in avoiding back pain where possible as well managing any pain you might feel.
The causes of back pain
The leading causes of back pain are due to strained nerves and muscles in the back, acute injuries often from abnormal twisting, compression or lifting as well as degenerative spinal and bone diseases.
Back pain is often from overuse or strain on the muscles and ligaments in the lower back. This can be caused through strenuous activity, poor posture, holding the same position for too long or abnormal movement of the back and spine. Another leading cause of back pain is tears and damage or even degeneration over time of the disks between the vertebrae of the spine. These disks are the cushions between the spinal bones and damage to them can result in severe pain.
Spinal stenosis which is a narrowing of the spinal cord that puts pressure on the nerves roots in the spine is a common degenerative spinal disease. Spondylolisthesis is a degenerative disease caused by a vertebrae slipping forward over the next vertebrae in the spinal column. Scoliosis is caused from abnormal spine curvature which can be extremely painful for some people.
Listen to what your body is telling you
When living with back pain, it is important to react to what your body’s signals are telling you so as to help avoid back pain. If some movements hurt more than others, try and avoid those movements or change the way you do them. If bending with your back is painful, try keeping your back straight and bending with your knees instead. Check with your doctor on safe movements to avoid making the injury or pain worse.
After an injury make sure you get enough rest in order to allow your back time to heal, but extended bed rest will result in muscle weakness and a longer healing period. Try and restrict bed rest to a maximum of two days and then begin safe activities to ensure your back muscles keep their strength and can support your movement. Good posture is critical in avoiding back pain, don’t slouch. Try and stand or sit with your back straight, aligned from your ears to your hips.
Improving your condition
When you are living with chronic back ache there are a few things you can do to avoid making the pain worse or even improve the symptoms. Use a chair with good support for your back and have it positioned at the right height for your task. Rest your feet on a low stool and use cushions, pillows or a rolled blanket or towel to support your lumbar region. Try to avoid sitting as much as possible especially in soft, low chairs and sofas.
Try to limit driving as much as you can, but if you have to drive try and keep your hips lower than your knees while keeping a mild curve in your spine. Support your back when getting out of the car and don’t twist your body. Make sure you stop and get out of the car regularly to stretch your back. Don’t bend at the waist. When getting up from a chair, move to the edge of the chair until your feet are firmly on the ground and use your legs and thigh muscles to lift your body weight.
To keep your back supple and avoid strain, make sure you change your position fairly often. Stand up from your chair, walk around, stretch your body, arch your back gently. When doing movements that require bending for longer periods such as vacuuming, ensure that you keep your lower back curved naturally as much as possible.
Avoid lifting items that are too heavy and don’t be afraid to ask for help. When lifting items make sure that you use your legs and not your back to lift with. Bend with your knees, legs shoulder width apart, tighten your core and work the stronger leg muscles. Don’t jerk upwards or twist your body, lift smoothly and straight upwards.
Smooth, easy movements and moderate exercise is a good way to help your body cope with lower back pain without increasing the agony and still allowing you to continue with most of your daily work.