It’s not just the physical aching that makes back pain agonizing. It’s everything that comes with it. Like not being up for everyday activities. Or worse yet, being unable to even attempt them.
For the millions of Americans who experience back pain every year, it's a setback that’s both physical and mental. Unlike a more isolated injury, such as an ankle sprain, back pain tends to sideline people from doing everyday things, adding an element of mental anguish.
Why is this pain so common? For starters, the spine is complex. It’s a combination of bones, flexible ligaments and tendons, large muscles, and highly sensitive nerves. Strain or irritation to one of these fine parts brings serious consequences.
To truly understand why back pain is so prevalent, simply look at modern lifestyles. You’ll find a lot of poor posture, general inactivity, and stress. And while you might've guessed that sitting at a desk or being out of shape can lead to back issues, emotional stress is a significant, but overlooked cause of pain.
The good news is, 95% of back pain is temporary and not serious. Most of the time the issue causing the pain does not require surgery. But despite chiropractic therapy being effective for alleviating pain in the short term, it’s common for back pain to return.
So what’s the solution to back pain? In an ideal sense, prevent it in the first place. But for the many people who already deal with back pain, it’s about finding the right treatment. There’s no universal remedy for back pain, but the following prevention and treatment recommendations are practical changes you can make starting today
Eat healthy foods. Eating a balanced diet that includes the right amount and variety of vitamins and nutrients can help reduce back problems by nourishing the bones, muscles, and other spinal structures. Calcium is particularly good for bone strength.
Reduce stress. Everyone feels stress sometimes. It’s important to find outlets that help you decompress and incorporate them into your life regularly. Exercise, yoga, and meditation are reliable routines. Laughter goes a long way, as well.
Get sleep. Sleep is proven to be vital to our overall health. But being well rested also helps you have better posture and pay more attention to the way you lift and move things.
Get up, move, and stretch. Whenever you’ve been sitting for 20-30 minutes, you should get up and walk around so you're not getting locked into one position. If you’re feeling stiff, do some light stretching.
Lifting with your back. Bending over to lift and overusing the back muscles are common causes of back injury. Whether raising a barbell or shoveling snow, focus on lifting with your legs to reduce strain on your back.
Poor posture. When you slouch, your muscles struggle to keep you balanced, which can cause back pain. Be mindful of your posture, particularly if you work long hours at a desk.
Too much bed rest. While getting enough sleep is a good thing, there is such thing as too much bed rest. Make sure you’re up and active during the day, to help your back stay strong.
Using a back support product. When you’re dealing with back pain, a hot/cold wrap can be an effective form of treatment. If it’s a new injury or your back is inflamed, use it cold. If you’re feeling stiff, you’ll want heat. And if you’ve battled back problems in the past, a back brace will provide lumbar support, which may help you avoid recurring injury.
Starting an exercise routine. It can’t be stressed enough: exercise helps avoid back pain. If you currently don’t work out, find some sort of fitness routine. If you have back pain, try yoga or water aerobics to ease the pressure on your joints, while getting the benefits of exercise.
Switching your sleeping position. If you currently have back pain, talk to your doctor about the best sleep position. Sleeping on your stomach can be especially hard on your back.
Adjusting your workstation. Simple ergonomic changes can mitigate the hazards of sitting at a desk. Assess your workspace and determine changes you can make, from trying a standing desk to putting your monitor on a stand to help your posture.
Changing your mindset. We know chronic pain has a psychological component that can exacerbate pain. A shift in frame of mind could make a difference in the amount of pain felt or how quickly an injury heals.