Suffering from back pain? You’re not alone. An estimated 10.2% of Americans live with chronic lower back pain, according to a 2009 study from the University of North Carolina. Not only that, but it is estimated that 80% of people will experience back pain at some point in their lives. With these statistics, it’s important to know how to effectively manage back pain so it doesn’t end up putting a damper on your everyday activities. Here are some things you can do to keep the pain at bay.
Don’t Stop Moving
Keeping your body moving is essential for back pain recovery. Though it may feel immobilizing, back pain will subside more quickly the more you gently work your muscles. Start out light with low-impact activities like walking, and then once your back pain subsides, keep up the pace with aerobic activities such as swimming and cycling to keep your back muscles in good shape. Just don’t overdo it!
Ice is Nice
The first 24 to 48 hours after a back injury or flare-up of your chronic back pain, chill out with some ice. Apply an ice pack to the affected area of your back for 20 minutes, then take it off for another 20 minutes, repeating until your back pain has decreased. After 48 hours of this, you can switch to heat, but using a heating pad within the first two days of a back injury or chronic back pain flare up can actually worsen the inflammation of the affected spot, slowing recovery.
Once you have recovered from your most recent bout of back pain, start an exercise regimen that will strengthen your abdominal, hip and pelvic muscles, as this will take the pressure off of your spine and provide your back with more support. Developing your back muscles can also help prevent against future back pain episodes by strengthening the areas that support your lower back. Just be careful with your exercise regimen- overdoing it can lead to another back injury.
Stretch it Out
Stretching your back is good for you, and feels amazing! Next time you’re at your desk at work or sitting on the TV, take a break to stretch out your back muscles. Experts recommend standing and stretching slightly backward every 20 minutes or so during a task that has you sitting for long periods of time. Practicing stretching exercises and yoga can also help alleviate the pressure in your back, so brush up on your downward dog!
Posture is Important
Your mother was right- you shouldn’t slouch. Simply making an effort to stand up straight without slumping your shoulders can make a big difference in the amount of back pain you experience. When you slouch, you’re making it harder for your back to support your weight. Maintaining good posture keeps your center of gravity in better balance, allowing your back to do less heavy lifting.
Lift With the Knees
Speaking of heavy lifting, we all know that you shouldn’t bend from the waist to lift heavy objects, but most of us do it anyway. If you need to lift something, make sure to bend from your knees, not your back. Better yet, leave the lifting to someone who doesn’t have chronic back pain or a recent back injury.
By developing healthy habits and modifying a few everyday practices, you can keep your back in better shape, lessening the recurrence of chronic back pain flare-ups. For more serious issues that require spinal surgery, New York orthopaedic surgeon Dr. Paul Brisson is here to help. Dr. Brisson specializes in diagnosing and treating all spine-related issues, including sciatica, herniated disks and spinal stenosis, and offers comprehensive treatment and spinal surgery in the Manhattan area. For New York residents who are suffering from chronic back pain, Dr. Brisson can help you get your life back on track. Call 212-813-3632 for an initial consultation with Dr. Brisson and his team of caring professionals. Make back pain a thing of the past- contact Dr. Paul Brisson today!