By: Dr. Mike Shah. Interventional Pain Specialist & Pain Management Board Certified Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, The Minimally Invasive Spine Institute in Dallas
According to the American Chiropractic Association, In the United States, more than three million people experience back pain each year. Lower back pain can be described as a problem in any part of the spine and can range from annoying to excruciating. As the single leading cause of disability worldwide, back pain is one of the most common ailments adults face.
Understanding your back pain:
For many, back pain can be as simple as a muscle strain or sprain. This is the most common form of back pain, and the most treatable. This kind of back pain is referred to as “self-healing”, which means it does not require treatment. Other kinds of back pain can be symptoms of a more severe condition, for which it is often necessary to seek out the advice of a back doctor.
Causes of back pain:
There are many different causes of back pain. Most commonly, back pain is caused by overuse or wear and tear as opposed to one isolated event. While overuse is not always preventable, there are several ways to change your daily routine that can significantly decrease the risk of back pain.
Take a break.
For a lot of people, working includes sitting at a desk or in an office for up to eight hours a day. A the most common contributors to back pain is remaining sedentary for long periods of time. In fact, sitting can put up to 40 percent more pressure on your spine than standing. Taking breaks and going for short walks or doing stretches every hour or so can alleviate pressure on your spine. If taking breaks and stretching possible during a busy day at work, try investing in a chair that supports your back and does not cause you to hunch over your desk.
It’s no secret that smoking is bad for you. Everyone is aware of the effects smoking has on the lungs and heart, but not everyone realizes the damage it can cause to other parts of the body, specifically the back. Smoking has been linked to lower back pain and lumbar spondylosis, a disease in which the cartilage of the disks and joints degenerate. Quitting smoking is an effective way to improve your overall health and decrease the risk of lower back pain.
Switch out your mattress.
If you can’t remember the last time you switched out your mattress, it’s probably time to invest in a new one. For those who already have back pain, the right mattress can make a difference. Professionals recommend finding a mattress that has a medium firmness, or placing a pillow between the knees or under the stomach to relieve pressure. Not only can it decrease back pain, but it may also improve the quality of sleep.
Following a healthy diet is an effective preventative measure to easing back pain. The key to creating a “back-healthy” diet is eliminating foods that cause inflammation. Avoiding added sugar, processed foods, caffeine, red meat and alcohol and introducing more grains, lean proteins, vegetables and fruit can decrease inflammation and improve circulation throughout the body.
One of the effective forms of alleviating pre-existing back pain is doing preventative and therapeutic stretches. Other methods, such as low-impact exercises and yoga can prevent back pain from occurring by keeping off excess weight and keeping the joints limber. Yoga not only promotes physical strength and muscle relaxation, but also promotes deep breathing and mindfulness. Try asking an instructor to adjust specific poses to target the lower back.
Take off the heels.
No one will ever say that walking in heels is easy or comfortable. High heels force the back to arch and the spinal muscles to work in overdrive. Try trading in high heels for shorter ones or even sneakers occasionally, and even consider investing in gel inserts for shoes to provide more stability and relief.
Walk when you can.
Much like sitting at a desk, sitting in a car for long periods of time can negatively affect your spine. Hunching over the steering wheel or slumping in the seat causes unnecessary pressure on the back. Simple steps such as sitting upright and purchasing a supportive lumbar pillow can ease pain, but the most effective method is simply stopping often to walk and give your spine a break.
The American Association of Neurological Surgeons state, “An estimated 75 to 85 percent of all Americans will experience some form of back pain during their lifetime. Although low back pain can be quite debilitating and painful, in about 90 percent of all cases, pain improves without surgery. However, 50 percent of all patients who suffer from an episode of low back pain will have a recurrent episode within one year.” Because back pain is so common and can have significant negative effects on daily life, it’s worth taking the time to consider the changes you can make to take care of your spine.
For more information on back pain, common conditions and treatments, please visit www.mispinerelief.com. If you are suffering from chronic or severe back pain, contact the Minimally Invasive Spine Institute at 855-297-7242 to schedule a consultation with one of our specialists.
Interventional Pain Specialist & Pain Management Board Certified Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, Minimally Invasive Spine Institute
Dr. Shah is a Harvard-trained physician in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation who has been dedicated to the eradication of pain in the Dallas area since 2003. He received a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Duke University and his medical degree from Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans, Louisiana. Dr. Shah also received a master’s in Pharmacology from Tulane and a Master of Public Health from Tulane University School of Public Health. Following this, he completed his Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation residency at Harvard’s Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, consistently recognized as one of the Top 5 Pain Management Hospitals in the country by U.S. News and World Report.