Living with back pain

Back pain can happen to anyone and most people will experience some form of back pain during their lives. Being in tip-top shape is certainly a good thing, but this alone will not exclude you from experiencing back pain due to an injury, bad posture or any number of possible reasons. Your back ache may be mild and simply an annoyance which is not completely debilitating and treatable with painkillers. For others however back ache can be chronic and severe, and not as easy to live with.

Physical and psychological effects

Back pain that is or becomes very severe takes a toll on you in both a physical and emotional sense. Living with severe back pain can affect your moods, can effect concentration and sleep and bring on feelings of despair and depression. Some people also build up severe anxiety and stress worrying about functioning through every day. Adding emotional stress into a mind that is already overwhelmed with pain exacerbates the situation and increases feelings of irritation, annoyance and depression.

Focusing on your back pain can also magnify the pain you’re feeling making it seem worse than it actually is. Emotional stress caused by pain can also heighten the degree of pain your body is feeling as well. Stress can also cause muscle spasms and tension in the lower back, which increases the pain felt.

Avoiding exercise

Avoiding exercise which may bring on the pain can have the opposite effect of what is intended. When you are afraid of worsening the pain due to moderate movement and subsequently avoid movement, you weaken your muscles and spine. This causes you to lose strength until you are unable to do even the basic movements required to live a fully functional life. You need to address both the physical and mental aspects in order to live with chronic back pain.

Breathing exercises are a good way to alleviate stress as well as reduce feelings of pain. Breathe deeply, and relax as much as you can. Meditation and other forms of soothing stress relief can go a long way to reducing pain and helping you cope better. When you are having a better day with less pain and negative emotions, don’t overdo things trying to make up for the bad days. You still need to take it easy and get things done in a way that will not bring on more pain later on.

The right activity is good to help cope with back pain, but you need to learn to be moderate. Don’t decide to sit back and do nothing, but you also cannot push yourself too hard, especially if you are healing from an injury. Discuss with a doctor or a physiotherapist exercises that will be manageable and help you to cope with your back injury. They can guide you on strength building without extra stress to the body. Having severe back pain does not mean that you should avoid all movement, you still need to keep your muscles strong and support your back and spinal column. Mild exercise is also great to uplift your mood and improve feelings of anxiety and depression.

Know your body

There are various medications prescribed for back pain and the strength of the medication can also differ to a large extent. It is important to discuss with your doctor what medications they may think will be beneficial to you, any possible side effects and how long you would need to take the medication for. You can also discuss tapering off the medication as you heal or an increase in dosage or strength if your pain becomes unmanageable.

Try and get rid of bad habits and any bad toxins in your system. Alcohol can cause restless sleep, tossing and turning, which increases back pain and can also interfere with the absorption of your medication. Reducing or cutting out alcohol all together might help improve your chronic back pain and even help you get a more rested sleep. Smoking has also been linked to degenerative disc disease which is one of the main causes of lower back pain. Quitting this habit also has many other health benefits.

Further support

If you find you have severe anxiety and depression from coping with back pain, or even if you feel isolated due to your back condition, it could help to talk to someone about it. There are a number of support groups in the UK and even online that can help you cope. Discussing your feelings with your doctor, a friend, your family or spouse can help you deal with the emotions associated with severe pain. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.