Back pain is a common problem, experienced by most people at some point in their life, and is usually the result of overuse or injury. People who work in sedentary environments, lift heavy objects or don’t warm up before physical activity are at a higher risk of back pain, in addition to those who are elderly, obese or smokers.
Back pain varies greatly, occurring anywhere between the neck and tailbone, and ranging in severity. While surgery may be required to correct back pain in rare circumstances, most back pain is treatable using self-care solutions and preventative action.
Back pain has many possible causes. It’s actually the symptom of an array of medical issues. Most back pain is the result of muscle or ligament strain, most often due to improper lifting, high impact over-activity or working too long in a sedentary environment, such as at a desk.
Skeletal issues and abnormalities can also cause back pain, including injured spinal disks, osteoporosis, arthritis and sciatica. In rare cases, back pain may also be caused by serious issues, such as tuberculosis or a tumor.
Back pain symptoms vary in location and sensation, but are generally recognized as pain or discomfort in the back. Back pain can also extend to pain in other parts of the body, including the neck and legs. Common symptoms include:
- Dull, aching pain in the back
- Stiffness or diminished range of motion
- Shooting or stabbing pain
- Inability to stand straight
While back pain is often the symptom of muscle or body strain, it can also be an indicator of more serious issues. Back pain in conjunction with any of the following symptoms should be taken seriously:
- Incontinence / loss of bowel or bladder control
- Shooting pain that radiates down one or both legs
- Pain that intensifies or worsens at night
- Sudden, unexplained weight loss
- Weak, tingling or numb legs
- Pain that lasts 2 or more weeks
A variety of self-care solutions are available to treat most back pain. These treatments typically work best when a person couples temporary pain management with long-term preventative solutions.
Here are some self-care solutions you can try to eliminate back pain:
NSAIDs: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen (Advil), can help provide temporary relief for back pain. If the pain returns after or persists through the use of these medications, additional treatment options should be utilized.
Hot and Cold Packs: Ice packs can be effective in reducing the inflammation associated with back pain, while hot packs can provide relief to aching or sore backs. Hot packs should be applied only after inflammation has been relieved.
Because back pain is a symptom of other issues that are occurring, eliminating the initial cause of the pain can help minimize it and prevent it from recurring.
Posture & Core Strengthening: Improving posture and core muscles will increase the back’s strength, resulting in better defense against strain and pain, and can improve the body’s overall wellness. There are several exercises that strengthen the core and the back. While a physiotherapist can develop and monitor a strengthening routine, you can also perform core strengthening exercises at home.
Ergonomics: Office and work environments can cause significant strain on the body over time, especially if set up improperly. An ergonomic setup is the first line of defense against back pain for anyone who spends a lot of time at a desk. Ergonomics may use any combination of standing desks, ergonomic chairs, footstools, and accessories to help keep the back straight, with hips, arms and legs bent at 90-degree angles.
Proper Lifting: Even seemingly light objects can strain the back when they are lifted improperly. Lifting from the knees instead of the back will help prevent back pain and injury.
Relax The Back is a leading expert in spinal-health products and wellness solutions. We offer an array of products that can help alleviate and prevent back pain. Some options for preventing back pain and supporting spinal-health include:
Ergonomic Furniture: Standing desks, ergonomic chairs, foot stools, and computer accessories can drastically improve overall back health. This solution is particularly important for individuals who spend several hours per day at a desk.
Postural Supports: Back cushions and seat cushions can help ensure your back is properly supported and aligned. Correcting alignment is an important aspect of back pain treatment and prevention.