Back pain is something that most people — about eighty to ninety percent of Americans — experience at some point in life. I can tell you from personal experience that back pain isn’t necessarily an older person’s disease. People in their twenties and thirties (like me) can and do experience back pain! A small percentage of people experience back pain without a known cause. That’s why I want everyone to learn a bit about what back pain is and why it develops in some people.
Fortunately, doctors understand why many people develop back pain. A sedentary lifestyle or job that keeps an individual sitting for hours at a time; a back injury; overweight or obesity; or disc problems can cause untold misery. Since back pain can rule the suffering person’s life, it’s really important to see a doctor! And, after you see the doctor, it’s important to live a healthy lifestyle. If you’re overweight, reduce. If you’re inactive, start an exercise program. But don’t take any of these healthy steps until the doctor determines what’s causing back pain. The Spine Institute of Florida Hospital Medical Group is an example of a specialist medical group devoted to spine health.
Lower back pain can happen when the back’s ligaments loosen or weaken. Ligaments keep the spinal cord in a fixed position. If muscles around the spinal cord weaken, then spinal vertebrae may move out of position. Pain often results. For some people, back pain is constant and debilitating. Avoiding stress to the spine can help to keep your back healthy.
Taking Care of Yourself
According to the Harvard University School of Medicine, some people experience back pain after exertion or when they’re under stress. This kind of back pain may resolve on its own in a few days. Here are a few ideas about how to manage your back pain:
If you’re experiencing back pain with muscle spasms, try an ice or frozen gel pack. Place the pack on the painful area for at least twenty minutes at least two or three times per day. If you’ve pulled muscles or ligaments, cold treatment can help to reduce swelling. Take an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medicine, such as ibuprofen, as long as your doctor says it’s okay. This type of medicine will reduce pain and won’t cause drowsiness.
After the doctor says it’s okay to exercise, avoid stressing the back. Elliptical machines at the gym can help runners with an injury to get an aerobic workout without stressing the spine. While you’re healing, avoid abs machines or any physical activity that prohibits a full range of motion. If you lift weights, avoid lifting too much weight now. Ask a personal trainer about how to lift weights safely if you’re unsure about how to protect your back.
Readers of Unfinished Man know how important it is to eat healthy. People with back pain should be especially careful to nourish themselves by eating enough calcium (in dark leafy green vegetables, nuts, and dairy foods) and a generally balanced diet (whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins). A healthy diet (along with exercise, after your back pain resolves) is one of the best prescriptions for a better life in general!
If You’ve Got Back Pain
When back pain persists more than a day or two, don’t suffer in silence. Do everything possible to find out what’s causing your pain and then correct the problem as quickly as you can.