A Pain in the Back - as Common as a Cold
According 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.
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