- Personal Health Information & Self-Help
Back Pain: How To Cope When You Can't Stand Up
Coping With Chronic Back Pain
Dislclaimer: I am not a doctor or medical professional of any kind. I don't even play one on TV. I am, however, a long time back pain sufferer. Seek the advice of a professional if you are in pain; read this Hub for what I've learned based on research and my own suffering. See links below for sources.
If you suffer from chronic back pain like me, you are not alone. Studies indicate that many Americans will suffer from debilitating back pain at least once in their lives. Some sources indicate that up to 45% of the population suffer from acute low back pain at some point. It is one of the major reasons for missing work. There are many causes to these episodes ranging from hereditary back problems to those beloved 3-inch Manolo Blahniks.
Much to the confusion of the suffering masses, there are almost as many remedies for back pain as there are potential causes. Here are some interesting facts and tips I've picked up over the years after many episodes of being laid out, laid up, and well...flat on my back:
Back Pain - Bad Genes or Bad Posture?
Remember our parents telling us to "stand up straight?" Turns out, it was good advice but how many of us listened? Good posture (both in standing and sitting modes) is a good idea for those who would like to avoid putting the local chiropractor's kids through college. The lower back supports most of the weight of the body. Slouching puts a major strain on the muscles, ligaments and joints that keep us upright.
The human species known as homo erectus has evolved into homo sitting-us or homo couchpotato-us. (My apologies to anthropologists and scholars everywhere). Sitting (something our hunter-gatherer ancestors did very little of) puts a huge strain on the back muscles as well as the spinal discs. Keep the spine neutral and take frequent breaks (get up, take a walk around the office, do some stretches) to keep the muscles in the lower back relaxed.
Back pain can be passed down from generation to generation. Diseases such as osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, and degenerative disc disease are some examples. Knowing what's in your family tree can help you with back pain prevention down the line.
Back Pain Caused By Sports-Related Injury
Sports physiotherapy is a booming business and it's no wonder. Athletes at all levels can put repeated pressure and strain on their backs, sometimes from a very young age. As competition levels increase, the liklihood of injury increases. Even players of sports that don't look rigorous (like golf) can suffer from game wrecking back pain and even chronic back injuries.
Back Pain Caused By Fashion
No doubt whoever coined the phrase "we must suffer to be beautiful" had back pain and wore high heels anyway. Studies have shown (and x-rays too) that wearing super high heels can throw spinal alignment completely out of whack due to the altitude of those lovely heels.
Back Pain Caused By Sloth
It's a known fact that people who carry excess weight and who are not mobile are at risk for back pain as well as other maladies. As mentioned above, the lower back carries the weight of most of the body. When there is excess weight and poor muscle tone, you create the perfect scenario for back pain.
What To Do
- Consult a professional: If you are suffering from lower back pain, see a doctor first to rule out any other conditions that might cause pain in that region (such as kidney infections).
- Seek help immediately: Don't wait until you're like the tin man without an oil can to seek help. A delay in medical attention can make a one time injury a chronic condition.
- Chiropractor or Physio?: Whether you go to a physiotherapist or a chiropractor is usually a matter of personal choice; however, do your homework. Ask friends and co-workers for referrals.
- Follow the advice: This may sound like common sense but it happens over and over again (to me and others). Once you feel better you return to your old slouchy, slothful habits. Be patient with yourself; some strains and sprains take weeks to fully heal. If you go the distance with your recovery the liklihood of a repeat occurrence is less.
- Exercise IS Your Friend: Exercises that involve gently stretching the muscles are most beneficial. Core strengthening exercises will ensure that the muscles supporting you are strong.
- A Further Word on Exercise: You know your body; listen to it. Some activity is better than none - even if it's just walking. Many people swear by yoga but note that there are many different types of yoga and not all may be appropriate. Swimming is often recommended. Do your homework and don't try to do too much too fast.
Treat your back with care; it does a lot for you whether you're sitting at a desk or slamming a home run. Seek help to find the root cause of your back pain and research the kind of relief that works best for you.
Further Reading and Sources
- Back pain
Back pain Comprehensive overview covers causes, treatment, relief for this potentially disabling condition.
- Acute Low Back Pain - What is Acute Low Back Pain?
Acute low back pain is a backache that results from a back injury such as back strain, or a back condition. Learn about symptoms, causes, and treatments for acute low back pain.
- Genetic Back Pain
Honest & Understandable Info on Genetic Back Pain written by a recovered patient.
- Preventing Back Pain
Back Pain can be prevented by exercising the muscles that support the back, good posture, safe bending and lifting techniques, weight control.