Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Tips for Back Pain

A Bad Start to a New Day

Here’s a scenario for you: It’s 2 o’clock in the morning, and you have to be up by 6 a.m. for work, but, once again, you just can’t doze off. You already know it’s going to be a long day. You twist and you turn and there’s no point in counting sheep and you know it’s not insomnia. It’s back ache: an ache that’s been persisting for hours now, and has become so intense that it’s even preventing you from catching those Z’s.

Let’s Talk Back Pain
Although it may seem that you are the only person that can relate to any kind of pain, do not feel excluded just yet. About 80% of Americans are afflicted by severe back aches. The causes of back pain vary but before we dive into the whys and how’s, I wanted to touch on what it may mean to you.

With 80% of all Americans going through the same thing, the scenario above is absolutely possible. As mentioned above, it can not only ruin your day but even a lifestyle. Surprisingly, back problems may affect your day to day activities, from work to quality time with family, and can even influence your mental state.

Possible Causes
Now that you’ve gotten a glimpse into what you have at risk, let’s discuss back pain causes.
  • First off, stress. Merely stressing out will increase the likelihood of muscle spasms, which is a direct cause of back spasms, and what’s more, stressing about back pain can perpetuate the aching.
  • Another source of chronic back pain comes from sustained injuries. Remember when you fell off that chair a few months back, or when you flew off your bike last summer, or when you were tackled by that linebacker last season? Although you don’t, your body does. Spine injuries such as sprains and fractures can lead to short term or chronic back pain.
  • There are also several acquired conditions that lead to back problems. They include:
    • Scoliosis
    • Spondylolisthesis
    • Various forms of arthritis
    • Spinal stenosis

Back Pain Treatment
The following are a few key methods in reducing, if not eliminating, back aches.
  • Most basic of all back pain remedies is certainly a vital one: REST. Sit or sleep in the most comfortable position you can find. As the pain begins to subside, take short walks in order to exercise your limits, but always be wary about exceeding those limits. Simple tasks such as walking to the fridge for a drink can prove to be arduous, so avoid it at first.
  • Although I don’t like the idea of people using excessive meds, certain pain medication has been proven to relieve back pain.
    • Over the counter pain killers such as Tylenol, aspirin, or Ibuprofen have a positive effect against an aching back.
    • If need be, your doctor may be able to prescribe prescription strength pain medicines or even a combination of medications.
    • Your doctor may even prescribe muscle relaxants.
You should note that these medications have an effect on the brain, not muscles, and can often lead drowsiness and dependency.
  • Another method of relief for back pain comes in the form chiropractors. Spinal manipulations by chiropractors and osteopaths have been proven to be effective for acute low-back pain. Early chiropractic adjustments for acute back pain may actually prevent chronic problems from developing.

One way to treat back pain, that often gets overlook, is utilizing forms of back pain relief even before any actual back pain symptoms appear. I’d like to shed insight in back pain exercises that I have come across.
  • First off, I’m sure many of you have heard lift with your legs not your back. Not only are your legs much stronger, but if you use your back, you increase your chances of spraining the muscles located in that region.
  • Beginner Level exercises
    • Ankle pumps
    • Heel slides
    • Wall squats
  • Intermediate Level exercises
    • Single knee to chest stretch
    • Hamstring Stretch
    • Sitting on exercise ball
  • Advanced Level exercises
    • Hip Flexor stretch
    • Lumbar stabilization exercise with exercise ball
    • Good old aerobic exercises

Well, there you have it, my two cents on treating back pain. Remember, you definitely need to be vigilant in what you’re doing and make sure you’re doing it correctly. Be mindful of your limits and remember not to greatly exceed a safe level of comfort. I hope this has been helpful, good luck!

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