Your back encompasses critical parts that work in sync to ensure the proper functioning of your body so you can seamlessly perform your daily activities. So, when you develop chronic back pain, a lot can be interrupted both in your personal and professional life. Unfortunately, if you don’t know how to live comfortably with chronic back pain, it can become difficult to stay active, take care of your loved ones, or even stay productive at work.
The good news? Back pain is not a death sentence. Yes, it may be uncomfortable but by changing a few lifestyle habits, you can be able to alleviate it and keep it from worsening. One approach that can effectively help with back pain relief is working with a physical therapist. But there are a couple more things highlighted in this MIDSS publication that you can do to maintain a healthy back and live a pain-free lifestyle.
If you have chronic pain in your back that lasts more than two months, it would be wise to talk to a doctor so you can figure out the cause and get insights on the best pain treatment. Depending on its severity, they may propose physical therapy or/and occupational therapy in addition to the following everyday habits.
Even if you’re suffering from back pain, you can still challenge yourself physically. Activity helps, a lot. A workout that concentrates on the muscles on your back and those around your abdomen, especially, can be great for building strength. Just make sure you’re going easy on yourself. You don’t want to do too much and make the pain worse.
Also, keep in mind that what soothes pain for someone else may not work for you. Your exercise routine must be customized to your specific condition and symptoms. Ask your physical therapist to recommend the best physical activity for you.
Sitting in one position for too long is one of the major contributors to chronic back pain. It puts excess pressure on your spine, leading to discomfort in your back and neck over time. You can fix this by changing positions regularly.
If you’re at work, consider taking a walk during breaks. Also, if you’re one of these people who like to eat their lunch at their desk, it’s time to stop. Get up and get moving. These little habits may seem insignificant but if practiced frequently, they may help improve your spinal health and relieve pain in your back.
According to the University of Rochester, smoking does hurt your back. The nicotine in cigarettes damages your arteries, preventing blood flow to the discs and joints in the spine. As a result, these parts of your spine dry out and start to crack, causing pain and discomfort. Quitting smoking can be a challenge, but in some cases, it could be all you need to get your back in good condition again.
Do you have some fat accumulated in your midsection? It could be causing your back pain. The extra pounds could be causing your body’s center of gravity to shift, putting added strain on your back. Eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly can help get you back to your ideal weight and alleviate your back pain. While at it, increase your intake of calcium and vitamin D; it will help keep your spine bones strong.
Chronic back pain may limit you from doing some of the things you enjoy. Thus, it’s important to pay attention to your body and learn to adapt to its demands. Note activities that make your pain get worse and do them in moderation or completely avoid them if you can. It will help manage the pain and keep the underlying health condition from progressing.
For most people living with chronic back pain, the underlying causes do not always show up in tests. However, a number of conditions and everyday habits have been found to contribute to chronic back pain including:
Muscle atrophy (deconditioning): Your back muscles become weak due to prolonged inactivity, causing them to wear away and even tear over time.
Ligament strain: Constantly lifting heavy objects can cause strain on spinal ligaments and back muscles.
Inflammation or weakening of the sacroiliac joint: The joint connecting your spine and the pelvis can swell or wear away due to an infection or after an injury, causing lower back pain.
Accidents: Injuries from falls, fractures, muscle strains, or car accidents can all cause back pain.
Diseases: Conditions like osteoarthritis and osteoporosis are also major contributors to back pain.
Lifestyle habits: Back pain can be triggered by everyday behaviors such as:
- Poor posture
- Intense smoking
- Lack of exercise
- Sleeping on your back
- Wearing high-heeled shoes
- Eating an unhealthy diet and not keeping your weight in check
If you know what’s causing your back pain, you could be able to alleviate it by making small but important changes in your day-to-day routine. Being more active can be a great place to start, but it’s crucial that you talk to a doctor to find out what treatment or pain management options are available for your specific condition.
- Who gets back pain?
Anyone can get back pain. However, the risk increases with age, with adults 30 years and above being more susceptible. Back pain is also more prevalent among smokers and people who are overweight as well as those who perform strenuous activities or lead an inactive lifestyle. There are also slightly more incidences of back pain in females compared to males.
- How do you mentally deal with chronic back pain?
By practicing positive thinking. Instead of beating yourself up for your pain, focus on healthy habits that nurture positivity and make your life more fulfilling. If you wake up with less pain than yesterday, take it as a win and celebrate it. Importantly, distance yourself from people who foster negativity and make you feel uncomfortable about your pain.
- When should I see a doctor?
If your back pain lasts longer than two weeks or doesn’t improve with self-care and home treatment, you should see a doctor. Also, if the pain causes bowel problems, unexplained weight loss, or numbness in your legs, it could be a sign of a serious medical condition, and you should seek medical care right away.