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A Pain in the Back

A Pain in the Back - as Common as a Cold

back-painAccording to the American College of Rheumatology, back pain strikes nearly as often as the common cold — in fact, nearly 80% of people develop back pain at some point in their life. It’s also a leading cause of disability and work challenges. 

Back pain can feel sharp, aching, dull, tingling, or burning. The pain comes from damaged muscles, ligaments, and nerves, or from the spine.

A car accident, a sports injury, and lifting a heavy object are obvious causes of back pain. But lifestyle factors can cause back pain, too. Being overweight—especially having excess abdominal fat—strains the lower back. Lack of exercise, poor posture, and sitting too much can also weaken and stress back muscles. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to keep your back healthy and keep back pain away.

Preventing Pain

Acute back pain will usually go away on its own within one to six weeks. Although it might be difficult, it’s better to move about than stay in bed, as long as you take it easy. Taking an over-the-counter pain reliever and applying ice or hot packs can ease pain and stiffness. 

If you suffer from ongoing back pain or frequent bouts of acute back pain, and you don’t have an underlying medical condition that’s causing it, lifestyle habits may be the problem. Follow these steps for a healthier back:

  • Lift safely. Bend your legs and keep your back straight.
  • Do aerobic exercise, stretch, and strength-train regularly.
  • Improve your posture. Don’t slouch or sit in one position for 
    too long without a break.
  • Manage your weight through exercise and a healthy diet.
  • Find time to relax. Stress can aggravate back problems.

Still in pain?

Working with a physical therapist can help ease back pain as they guide you through various exercises to help strengthen the muscles that support your back. To learn more, visit www.lakelandhealth.org/backpain


How Much Do You Know About Taking Care of Your Back?

1. It’s easy to find the cause of lower back pain. 

a. True
b. False

2. Low back pain is a rare problem.

a. True 
b. False

3. Surgery is the main treatment for low back pain.

a. True
b. False

4. Which of these is the proper way to lift a heavy object? 

a. Squat and keep your back flat
b. Squat and keep your back rounded
c. Bend at the waist and flex your knees as you lift
d. Bend at the waist and keep your knees straight as you lift 

5. Which position helps your back when you sleep?

a. Lying on your stomach
b. Lying on your back with your knees straight out
c. Lying on your side with a pillow between your knees
d. Sitting up in a chair

6. When sitting down, keep your knees slightly higher than your hips. 

a. True 
b. False

Answers: 1. B, 2. B, 3. B, 4. A, 5. C, 6. A

 

 

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