It has been estimated that between 60-80% of people who come and see a doctor do so because of some type of back pain. Some people experience back pain as a consequence of injury such as lifting a heavy object some people experience back pain as an accompanying symptom of an underlying medical condition or disease. There are some who experience back pain simply because of daily activities, lack of exercise, improper posture and improper sleeping posture.
Back pain is debilitating. It is irritating and it causes people to withdraw from their usual activities. While there are medications that may help relieve back pain, it is probably wiser to determine what causes back pain and correct the underlying causes instead of treating the pain without knowing the exact cause.
In order to find habits and activities that trigger or aggravate back pain, you must observe yourself closely. If your work involves sitting down for long periods of time in front of a computer screen or a handheld device, your neck muscles are probably stretched as your head is lowered to read items on the screen on your lap or in your hand. This back pain will be located around the neck and shoulders.
If you sleep and keep one position for too long during the night, chances are, your muscles get tense because you do not shift your weight to ease the pressure on the muscles. If you usually sleep lying on your back, you will probably not have any support for the small of your back. If you sleep on your side, you may be unduly putting pressure on your hips. If you sleep on your belly, you will probably have pain near your waist.
What can you do to ease your back pain, then?
1. Change your habits. If you find yourself slouching, then maintain good posture. If the cause of your back pain is staring at a computer screen that is too low or too high, then adjust your seat or your computer screen so that it is level with your eyes.
2. Avoid keeping one position for extended periods. Shift your weight. Get up and stretch out a bit. If you job entails standing on your feet, then wear comfortable shoes with good support. Wiggle your toes while you are standing up and roll on the balls of your feet to shift the weight. Walk around slowly and stretch your calf muscles.
3. If your daily activities include lifting heavy objects, then make sure that you lift using your leg muscles instead of your back muscles. Do not bend from your waist. Bend your knees instead and rise with the heavy object using the strength of your knees and legs.
4. Engage in sufficient physical exercise that includes strengthening your core muscles (the abdominal and back muscles); and engage in weight training to build muscular strength.
5. Lose weight. Back muscles suffer because often, our frame was not made to carry so much weight in fat. People who are overweight tend to experience more back pain.
6. If you carry a big purse or if you carry around a laptop computer, it may be wise to invest in a trolley so that you don’t have to carry the heavy objects, but instead, pull them along.
7. Use a lot of pillows to support your back when you sleep. Put a pillow between your knees if you sleep on your side. Put a pillow underneath your knees if you sleep on your back and a rolled up towel underneath your lower back.
8. Check your mattress. If it is too lumpy and soft, then it is probably not giving you enough support for your back. If it is too hard and too firm, your back pain might just be bruised from the overly firm mattress.
9. Use hot compresses or heating pads to relieve the back pain.
10. Invest in therapeutic massage or see a chiropractor. Sometimes, a good massage and a good stretch of the back muscles will relieve the back pain. Make sure, though, that the massage or chiropractic treatment is with the advice of your doctor.
There is hope for relief of back pain but the solution might not be just one thing but a lot of small things that you need to adjust or do without.