Many people are affected by back pain, which can be caused by a variety of factors, from a muscle or ligament strain to a disc problem or arthritis. Fortunately, there are a number of steps you can take to relieve most back pain episodes and help prevent back problems in the future.
Common Causes of Back Pain
Back pain is one of the main causes of disability worldwide. It frequently results from a musculoskeletal problem, and symptoms can vary, depending on whether back pain is related to:
- Muscle/ligament pain – which usually causes an aching type of pain, which may feel worse with movements such as bending, lifting, twisting, or walking.
- Nerve or neuropathic pain – which often causes shooting or radiating pain down the arms or legs, depending in which nerve is affected.
- Bone/cartilage pain – a less common type of back pain, which can cause a deep and constant aching, or more obvious bone pain, if associated with a spinal fracture. Bone pain may result from conditions such as osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, fractures, or infections.
How To Relieve and Prevent Back Pain
The best treatment for back pain will depend on the cause, but there are several steps you can take to help relieve symptoms and prevent back problems in the future.
Don’t Ignore Back Pain
Ignoring back pain and continuing to carry out activities that could aggravate it may make the problem worse. Minor back injuries, such as a muscle or ligament strain, can often be successfully treated with simple home-care treatments, such as adequate rest and applying ice regularly to the affected area.
It may be more difficult to pinpoint the cause of other types of back pain, particularly chronic back pain, which is classified as back pain felt for three months or longer. Further investigation by a specialist may be necessary to identify the cause and the best treatment. Certain back conditions, such as a disc herniation, can put pressure on nerve roots, which can cause pain to radiate down the extremities. Sciatica is a common condition that occurs when the nerve roots in the lumbar spine become compressed, causing pain to radiate down the leg. Chronic pain caused by a disc condition may require surgery, such as a discectomy, to relieve symptoms.
Keep Back Muscles Strong
It is important to keep the back strong and healthy to avoid injuring the back and to prevent back pain reoccurring in the future. Exercising regularly can help to increase strength and flexibility in the core muscles and the muscles around the spine. This allows them to better support the spine and improve function, which can help to prevent problems in the future.
If you suffer with recurrent back pain, a physical therapist can help to create a customized exercise program to improve flexibility, strengthen back and abdominal muscles, and improve movement techniques to help prevent future injuries.
Avoid Movements That Can Damage The Back
Certain movements can twist or strain the back. Lifting correctly is an important way to avoid back injuries. When lifting, try to let your legs do the work, not your back. Bend at the knees, keep your back straight, and hold the object close to your body. Avoid lifting heavy objects without help.
Think About Posture
Keeping good posture when sitting and standing can reduce the stress on back muscles and ligaments. Sit and stand up straight, so shoulders are in line with the hips, and try not to hunch or stoop forward. The back should be supported when sitting. Try placing a slim pillow in the small of the back to maintain the natural curve of the spine.
Lead a Healthy Lifestyle
Being overweight can put added strain on the back muscles. Try to maintain a healthy weight and lose excess pounds to avoid back problems in the future. Research shows that smoking may also increase the risk of lower back pain.
Stress can impact your overall health and can contribute to back, neck, and shoulder pain. Find ways to relax and take strain off your back. Exercise, yoga, Pilates, and breathing exercises can help to reduce stress build-up.
Getting a good night’s sleep can prevent back pain. Ensure your mattress is not too soft, and is supportive and comfortable, to help align the spine correctly.
Visit a Doctor for Back Pain
Although, typically, most back pain episodes improve with rest and self-care within a few weeks, some types of back pain may require further evaluation in order to treat the condition successfully. You should visit your doctor if:
- You have persistent pain lasting more than a few weeks
- Pain is severe/doesn’t improve with rest
- You experience numbness, tingling, or weakness in one or both legs
- Pain radiates down one or both legs, particularly if pain extends below the knee
- You experience unexplained weight loss alongside back pain
Seek immediate medical treatment if back pain follows a fall, or the injury to the back is accompanied by a fever or causes new bowel or bladder problems.
Back Pain Relief in Westlake and Avon, Ohio
If you have persistent back pain, visit Orthopaedic Associates. Our board-certified surgeons and physical therapists have the training and expertise to treat all types of conditions related to the back and neck.
We provide a comprehensive treatment program and use advanced nonsurgical and surgical methods to diagnose and treat a comprehensive range of orthopedic conditions. Our goal is to maximize your recovery and help get you back to your favorite activities as soon as possible.