If you experience pain and discomfort daily, know that you certainly aren’t alone in your dilemma! According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, around 1 in 5 people have chronic pain. One of the most common complaints is back pain, which is typically caused by everyday movements.
That’s why we encourage you to consult with a physical therapist who can work with you to address the symptoms and causes of your pain and help you gain better function.
What is back pain?
“Back pain” is an all-encompassing term used to describe a vast number of conditions that cause pain in the upper or lower back. The most common cause of back pain is from sustaining an injury. This can happen from an instant, sudden trauma, or from a repetitive-use injury that develops gradually over time.
Sports-related injuries, poor posture, and car accidents a few more ways a person can end up with debilitating back pain. Because back pain is such a common in the United States, there is a lot of information we have on the topic, including the following facts:
- Back pain runs second, only after the common cold, as the top reason for visiting a healthcare provider in the United States.
- Back pain is the number one disability for those under age 45.
- In the United States alone, there are an expected 31 million people with lower back pain at any given time.
- Experts place the likelihood of any person to experience some type of back problem in their lifetime at about 80%. That’s four out of every five people!
- 30-40 percent of all workplace absences are due to back pain.
- More than two-thirds of back strains are caused by lifting and other exertions, such as pulling and pushing.
- Most cases of back pain are mechanical—meaning they are NOT caused by serious conditions, such as infection, fracture, or cancer.
Approximately 80 percent of Americans have experienced (or will experience) back pain. If you are one of those people, here are five of our top tips for relieving and eliminating your discomfort.
1. Eat anti-inflammatory foods!
We are what we eat, and so we should treat our food as our medicine. Research suggests that avoiding highly processed foods and consuming a lot of veggies, fruits, whole grains, high-quality protein, and healthy fats can help decrease a person’s pain.
Eating a lot of nutrient-dense foods ensures our tissues get the raw materials they need to heal and repair. Plus, when we minimize or eliminate foods in our diet that tend to promote swelling and inflammation, including alcohol and sugar, our pain levels can naturally go down.
2. Watch how you’re sitting in your chair.
Have you noticed that you are constantly slouching in your chair or hunching over your computer? Are you using proper body mechanics when picking up objects—whether it’s a heavy box, a pencil on the ground, or even your child or grandchild? Chances are, if you’re suffering from back pain, you aren’t practicing proper posture or body mechanics.
There are so many ways we move our bodies every day that may not necessarily seem like they are “bad” for us,” but if we repeatedly put our bodies under certain types of strain, over time we can begin to experience tissue damage and chronic pain.
It’s a good idea to work with a physical therapist who can evaluate your posture, movement mechanics, and ergonomics. He or she can help you identify patterns and habits which you may not even be aware of but are still exacerbating your pain.
3. Exercise more often.
It’s important to get around 30 minutes of exercise on most or all days of the week. Exercise can alleviate pain by increasing blood flow, stimulating the release of hormones and neurotransmitters that provide natural pain relief, and increasing joint strength and stability.
It’s helpful to talk to a physical therapist if you have chronic pain before starting an exercise or workout program. They can provide services that naturally alleviate your pain and maximize your function so exercise is easier and safer for you to do.
4. Get enough sleep!
Does chronic back pain make it tough to fall asleep or stay asleep? Try these sleep hygiene tips to make it easier:
- Sleep in a pitch-black room with the bedroom temperature set to 65 to 68 degrees.
- Dim the lights and turn off your tv, or put your phone on silent.
- Go to bed at the same time every night, and wake up at the same time every morning (weekends and holidays included).
Sleep is essential for optimizing your body’s healing and regeneration process. It’s also an important way of managing stress. For these reasons, getting enough sleep can help you experience less pain.
5. Practice deep breathing exercises
Taking deep breaths stimulates the part of the nervous system that helps you relax, which is a great way to alleviate stress and ease pain that can cause discomfort in your back. Deep breathing is good for your body because it helps you get plenty of healing oxygen into your tissues.
The following exercise, known as four-square breathing or box breathing, has been shown to help manage pain. Sit in a comfortable position and follow these steps:
- Breathe in through your nose for 4 counts.
- Hold your breath for 4 counts.
- Breathe out through your mouth for 4 counts.
- Hold at the bottom of your exhalation for 4 counts, then repeat the cycle for 2 minutes.
Back pain is no joke. Get help today!
Don’t let debilitating back pain keep you from living a full, happy life. You deserve to receive the proper kind of care that will keep you active and free of pain for years to come!
Ready to schedule an appointment? Contact our physical therapy clinic today!
- Prevalence of Chronic Pain and High-Impact Chronic Pain …www.cdc.gov › mmwr › volumes
- Absence from work and return to work in people with back …www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov › pmc › articles › PMC4033140
- Ergonomics – Overview | Occupational Safety and Health …www.osha.gov › ergonomics