Chronic back pain affects millions of Americans, and it is typically caused by one of the following: mechanical problems, injury, and diseases and conditions. Mechanical problems, such as a herniated disc and muscle tension, are caused by spinal and muscle problems that make the back more susceptible to pain.
Back pain caused by injury, both from a one-time accident or small repetitive injuries, results in fractures, sprains, strains and ligament problems. Diseases or conditions like arthritis and pregnancy can trigger chronic back pain as well.
An Ounce of Prevention…
Health professionals will tell you that one of the most overlooked items in regard to chronic back pain is the lack of prevention. Most people never think to take the necessary precautions to avoid back issues until they begin experiencing them. For some, this is a case of too little, too late.
To prevent mechanical problems that cause back pain, doctors recommend exercises to strengthen core muscles in the abdomen and back. In addition, sitting, standing and lifting with good posture is important, because it reduces pressure on the spine. Maintaining a healthy weight is also important to reduce pressure on the back and prevent injury.
A large number of people who have been in car accidents tend to suffer with back issues resulting from the violent collision. Avoiding an injury such as a car crash is difficult, but you can reduce your chance of an accident by driving carefully and limiting distractions. Other one-time injuries can be caused by lifting a heavy object and are easier to prevent. Make sure only to lift with good posture, and bend at the knees, not the waist. Hold the object close to your body, and if it is too heavy, seek help.
For injuries caused by repetitive stress, good posture can also be the preventive measure that keeps you healthy. Sit tall, remove items from you pockets when sitting and keep your knees level with your hips by using a foot rest if necessary. A cushion or towel to support the lumbar curve in your back is also a great way to prevent pain. At the office, use a headset for your phone and make sure that the monitor and keyboard are properly positioned for you.
Some Issues You Have Less Control Over
Diseases and conditions like arthritis and pregnancy are causes of chronic back pain. While the diseases and conditions themselves cannot necessarily be avoided, the pain can be prevented or at least managed. Weight gain will exacerbate the back pain, and a healthy weight should be maintained. Pregnant women especially should consult their physicians on what healthy weight gain means for them. Posture is extremely important to reduce stress on already strained discs. Additionally, exercises determined by patient and physician to maintain as healthy a spine as possible is key.
Finally, stress and tension can exacerbate spine pain no matter what the cause. Managing stress properly is very helpful in maintaining a pain-free back.
Chronic back pain is an unfortunate reality for many Americans today. Using these tips can help prevent and manage back pain.
Amanda Sozak is a contributing writer for several health related websites including Michigan Spine Health, a Lansing based practice focusing on neck and back pain.