Back pain can create problems for even the most rugged of individuals, and taking preventive measures is the most effective means for keeping anyone from landing flat on it. In general, there are two primary sources for the cause of back pain – stress and trauma – each requiring different types of treatment. In addition, back pain is identified as either upper (thoracic) or lower (lumbar), and different therapeutic approaches may be required to treat them.
Back pain due to trauma
When you have back pain due to an injury or other type of trauma that was unavoidable despite the precautions you take, see a doctor or chiropractor. Remember: Pain is the body’s way of saying something is wrong. If you believe you have injured your back, see a healthcare professional. If you are taking NSAIDs to deaden the pain, but the pain persists for more than two or three days, see a doctor.
Stress-induced back pain
Back pain due to stress is the result of day-to-day activities or actions that “throw your back out of whack.” It may be soreness in the back muscles, spasms from fatigue, or a physical condition putting undue stress on your back. In these cases, a doctor may recommend non-prescription analgesics or other back pain medications, rest, or a few exercises to help relieve pain.
Causes of upper back pain
In most cases, upper back pain is the symptom of a dysfunctional joint or muscle irritation. If the source is muscle irritation, a lack of conditioning or overuse may be the cause. Sports injuries, on-the-job accidents, muscle strains, poor posture, even car accidents, may be the reason for the soreness
Joint dysfunction may be a bit more serious as it centers on problems with the spine and surrounding bones and tissue. For these problems, supervision of a healthcare professional is the best recourse.
Causes of lower back pain
Strains, nerve irritation (sometimes referred to as sciatica), a compressed nerve (radiculopathy), and bone and structural problems can cause lower back pain, which may be felt in the hips and legs as well as the back. Improper lifting, sitting for extended periods, poor posture, pregnancy, muscle spasms, being overweight, or a sudden blow can all be to blame.
While some of these conditions are less severe than others are, if any back pain is debilitating, persistent, or grows steadily worse, visit your healthcare physician.
How to prevent back pain
While some accidents and the pains they create are unavoidable (after all, that is why they are called accidents), there are certain proactive measures that anyone can take to help lessen the chances of back problems.
- Strengthen the abdominal muscles – These muscles play a role in holding you upright; when they are poorly conditioned, the back muscles have to work harder to keep you erect. Subsequently, they tire easily, and can spasm, causing pain and pulling vertebrae out of alignment.
- Stand up straight – Don’t slouch. Good posture plays a big role in mitigating the chances of back problems.
- Lose weight – When your belly is battling the bulge, it places greater stress on the back muscles as they struggle to keep you upright. Losing weight improves your posture, makes it easier to strengthen the abdominal core, and can help lessen back pain.
- Stretching – There are a number of quick and easy stretching exercises that can be performed almost any time of day and in any location, many in just a few minutes and with no equipment. Develop the habit of stretching in the morning before your begin your day, once or twice during the day, and then before bed. Not only does stretching keep muscles loose, it also plays a role in conditioning. Visit the following site for a few examples: http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/adult-health/multimedia/back-pain/sls-20076265?s=1
- Take a yoga class – Yoga is good for both your physical health and well-being, and it will keep you limber and flexible, keeping back problems at bay.
- Get up and move around – If you sit at a desk for much of the day, force yourself to get up and move around. Sitting for extended periods can have a negative effect on your lower back and it will stiffen and start to ache. Get up, stretch, and walk around. If your work can be adapted to it, try doing some of it while standing.
- Learn how to lift – Whenever you have to lift something, anything, do it properly! Bend your knees, pull the object to your chest, and lift with your legs. Any other method is a back injury waiting to happen.
- Get a massage – A good massage from someone properly trained can work wonders with relieving the tension that can lead to back problems and pain.
- Visit a chiropractor – A consultation with a chiropractor can provide non-invasive treatment as well as providing recommendations about the best approaches to back care.
If you have been experiencing back problems, or want to prevent problems before they develop, visit with a healthcare professional specializing in back care and maintenance for advice and development of a back care and exercise program. Your healthcare professional may recommend a variety of treatments including prescription back pain medications. There are multiple types and strengths of pain medications. We recommend consulting your physician before pursuing a pain management regimen. Get more information about pain medications and download free coupons from our Pain Conditions Page.