Ten ways to improve back pain
Half of all working Americans report some degree of back pain during their lifetime. While these numbers might seem huge and even somewhat dismal, the good news is that there are many steps you can take to lessen your pain and improve your quality of life. Here are some methods to try to find relief:
- Lose weight Every extra pound adds strain to the muscles and ligaments in the back, so consider shedding some pounds to lessen that stress. Additionally, choosing healthy foods will give your body the vitamins and minerals it needs to stay strong and healthy.
- Exercise Simple exercises like walking can often be useful to manage back pain because it keeps the body in a neutral position where it is not stressed. Remember to move in moderation, however, and avoid movement that causes you pain.
- Maintain good posture When you stand up straight without slouching you keep your spine strong and stable. When you walk or sit with poor posture your muscles and ligaments struggle to keep you balanced, which can lead to fatigue, back pain and other problems.
- Stop smoking Smoking has been directly tied to back pain. One reason for this is that smoking causes atherosclerosis, where plaque or other material builds up on the inside of blood vessels, causing decreased blood supply to places like the bones and discs of the spine. This eventually leads to degeneration of the spine and the onset of pain.
- Head to the medicine cabinet One of the first methods of pain management is taking an anti-inflammatory, non-steroidal over-the-counter medication such as ibuprofen. Prescription strength anti-inflammatory medications, steroid shots to the spine and other medications may also be recommended by your physician.
- Distract yourself When you focus on pain, it tends to seem even worse. That’s why people with chronic pain are often encouraged to focus on activities, people and other external stimuli as much as possible. They can also participate in the active exercise of dissociation, an emotional tool to combat chronic pain. Patients focus on separating themselves from the pain as much as possible by imagining that it belongs to someone else, or that the pain is unimportant.
- Try acupuncture Developed outside of traditional Western medicine, alternative therapies may have their roots in traditions, Chinese medicine, or other methods. Some of these approaches, such as acupuncture, have been reported by many to alleviate pain.
- Get a massage A trained therapist can use massage to stimulate muscles, bones and joints which in turn can relieve pain, improve circulation and improve mood.
- Seek out a physical therapist A physical therapist will use body mechanics to alleviate pain by analyzing and correcting posture, using traction, aquatic therapy and specialized exercises designed to strengthen muscles and increase mobility.
- Call Laser Spine Institute When none of these conservative methods seem to work, you may consider finding out whether you are a candidate for a minimally-invasive procedure at Laser Spine Institute. These procedures have a short downtime and can help you find relief quickly.