Back pain, in some form or another, affects many people. There are many cases where it gets very severe, but even a milder form of back pain can affect your life greatly.
It can limit your ability to play sports, go out with friends, or play with your kids, the list goes on really. That being said, there are also many things you can do to alleviate back pain, chronic or otherwise, in order to get back to your normal life. No one should have to live with back pain if they don’t have to.
- 1 Causes of Back Pain
- 2 Back Pain Treatment
- 3 Exercises for Back Pain
Causes of Back Pain
Back pain can be caused by a whole host of things, and unfortunately, it’s not always easy to tell exactly what is causing your pain. Sometimes, it may require a little bit of trial and error to figure out what it is.
There are some very simple things that could be causing your back pain, most of which you can do something about yourself, without the help of medications or treatments. A major culprit of a lot of back pain is constant slouching, usually by someone who works at a desk for all or most of their workday.
If you think this may be causing your pain, the solution is simple; stop slouching! Another thing many do often at work is lifting heavy objects. Especially if you work in a warehouse, you may find yourself lifting heavier objects and boxes quite often.
Lifting Heavy Stuff
While you may not be able to avoid lifting altogether, learning to lift properly and safely is a good first step. Of course, never attempt to lift more than you are capable of. If you are being asked to do something you feel is unsafe at work, you do have the right to refuse.
If you are overweight, this may be a cause for back pain as well. Carrying extra weight will put extra pressure and strain on all of your muscles and joints, especially you’re back. If you wear high heels very often, that could be the culprit as well.
You could consider cutting very high heels out of your wardrobe completely, but if you’d rather not, try to wear them in moderation and only for short periods of time. The weight you gain while pregnant can also cause some extra strain on your back.
You shouldn’t overlook the role emotions can play in causing you pain as well. Overwhelming amounts of stress can often lead to quite a lot of muscle tension being built up in the back. Suffering from depression and/or anxiety can make this a lot worse.
Back pain can also be an unfortunate side effect of other conditions, such as arthritis, osteoarthritis, or scoliosis – which is a curvature of the spine. These conditions will often result in pain, which can include your back.
Spine Related Causes
While not as easy of an answer as simple weight gain or bad posture, if there is an issue with your spine specifically, it can cause a great deal of back pain as well. Herniated, slipped, or bulging discs are one thing that could be causing the pain.
This means that the soft tissue located in the discs between your joints is bulging out, or has come out completely. This will cause pain because there is pressure being put on nerves in the area. Discs can also be affected by degenerative disc disease, where the discs have shrunken or torn. This causes bones to rub together, which can happen as you get older.
Spinal Stenosis is the condition where your spinal canal has become more narrow. This will add pressure to your nerves as well as your spine itself, which can cause your legs and shoulders to feel numb, as well as some pain in your back. This often happens to people who are over 60.
It could also be a simple pinched nerve. These will sometimes go away over time, and some stretching and exercises can help accelerate the process. In more severe cases, you should go to your doctor to seek help.
Back Pain Treatment
If you have determined that your back pain is caused by a more general problem, like the aforementioned slouching, over-use of high heels, or pregnancy, there are some easy ways to treat the pain, while you work on fixing the problem which is causing it. Ice packs applied to the area will often help, as will taking some basic painkillers such as Tylenol. If it is tight and tense muscles that you think are to blame, applying some heat to help relax them may be a good idea.
Chiropractic And Massage Therapist
If you find your back pain to be very serious and/or chronic, a chiropractor or massage therapist might be able to help. A chiropractor will be able to re-align muscles, joints, and whatever else may have fallen out of place. Once the issue has been resolved, they will also be able to give you a series of exercises or stretches that will help to prevent more injury and pain in the future.
If the pain is more of a muscle issue, then a massage therapist might be the answer. They will loosen strained muscles and increase your blood flow. The increase in blood flow will help your muscles heal faster and the loosening can help prevent further muscle spasms.
Pain Medications or Anti-Inflammatories
If you have back pain that is chronic and keeping you from performing everyday activities, it might be a good idea to see your doctor as they can prescribe some pain medications or anti-inflammatories that will be stronger and more effective than what is available to you over the counter.
For very severe pain you may be prescribed an opioid/acetaminophen combination such as Vicodin or Percocet. Some doctors may also prescribe some sort of muscle relaxant, which can be very helpful, but you do need to be careful. Muscle relaxants can have an effect on the brain, as well as cause drowsiness. You would want to avoid driving, among other things, if taking a strong muscle relaxant.
Injections of Anesthetics or Steroids
In the case of severe back pain that your doctor cannot help you with, you may be referred to a back pain specialist, who will be able to use injections of anesthetics or steroids which go directly into the back, to try and control the pain. If they determine that a herniated disc or a severely pinched nerve from the spinal cord are to blame, they may suggest surgery.
If you have longer-standing back pain due to nerve damage, there are some newer, more recently developed treatments that are designed to help patients in these situations. One of these newer treatments is radiofrequency ablation, which is the process of delivering electrical stimulation directly to specific nerves. There is also the option of destroying the nerve itself to prevent future pain, although this method requires more research to fully determine its actual efficacy.
Exercises for Back Pain
While a change in your habits/activities and/or taking some strong pain medication in conjunction with some physical therapy is certainly effective, there are some exercises and stretches you can do yourself that will help eliminate many forms of back pain. The great thing about these too, is that you can do them from the comfort of your own home.
The immediate reaction to experiencing back pain is to rest. Many will want to stay in bed and keep their back from having to do anything. While this is necessary in some cases, and maybe beneficial short term, staying in bed for more than a couple of days can actually be just as bad for you, and actually prevent healing and worsen the pain. Being active and keeping the muscles working is a necessary step is healing a back injury and dealing with pain. You have to be careful what you choose to do though, as over-working in and moving it in the wrong ways can be just as detrimental.
Yoga Stretches And Exercises
A great way to start dealing with your back pain is yoga. There is a long list of yoga poses that would be helpful in stretching out those muscles, but you can find list of some easy, beginner-friendly poses that will do wonders for all sorts of back pain by clicking here. These are not hard to master and will be most beneficial if done on a regular basis.
While stretching out tight muscles can provide temporary relief of pain, if you suffer from any sort of chronic pain or condition, you should work on implementing a regular program that includes both stretching and strengthening exercises. Keeping to a regular routine will help minimize pain as well as prevent it from returning in the future.
If you strengthen the muscles in your back, hips, and legs, it will also help prevent future back pain as well as injury, because you will be stronger and more flexible in general. It will help your muscles to become more resilient and resistant to strains and tightness. It is recommended that you speak to your doctor and explain your pain situation before starting a program, just to ensure that it is right for you as well as your specific condition.
A common attempt to relieve back pain is to stretch out the hamstrings. This can be done simply by standing straight and bending forward at the waist with your arms hanging down. The goal is to touch your toes, but if you cannot do so, that’s fine. Simply continue moving down until you feel the stretch in your hamstring and then stop. There are many ways to stretch your hamstrings, but this is the easiest and simplest way to do so.
While working to strengthen your back and legs, another thing to think about is your core. There is an incredible amount of benefits to strengthening your core, but a big one is a support it offers your back. It will take some of the efforts away from your back when performing certain actions or movements, and it will make it easier to maintain good posture. You don’t need to go after a six-pack to get a good core either, there are many, many low-impact ways you can train your core that won’t risk any other injury.
There are two very common forms of back strengthening exercises that are used when treating back pain. These are McKenzie exercises and dynamic lumbar stabilization. They are most often learned first with the help of a physical therapist who will make sure that you are performing them properly, to ensure the maximal benefit is obtained. These two forms are generally used to treat specific conditions, but can also be combined if it is deemed appropriate.
Lastly, doing some conditioning through aerobic exercise can be extremely beneficial as well. Regularly partaking in some light aerobic exercises will come with many benefits, including fewer episodes of back pain, and less pain if an episode does occur. It also helps patients to stay active and functional, both in their working lives as well as recreational activities. It will also make losing and controlling weight much easier, without being very strenuous. There is also the benefit of the increase in the release of endorphins. Endorphins can increase mood and relieve symptoms of depression, which is a common cause of additional pain in those with an injury or condition.
Dealing with back pain can be absolutely horrible, which is why nobody deserves to go through it. Luckily, there are so many ways these days that one can manage, prevent, and treat one back pain, be it acute or chronic. The first step to eliminating your pain is determining what is causing it.
From simple things like poor posture and weight gain to less common and more complicated spine issues, once you know what the problem is, you can start taking the necessary steps to get rid of it. Whether it be yoga, exercise, medication, or some form of physical therapy, you don’t have to live with back pain for the rest of your life!