Health & Wellness

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How to manage back pain

Back pain can have a debilitating impact on those suffering from it. But even those who have endured back pain might be unaware of just how far-reaching and expensive it can be.

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, lower back pain is the foremost cause of job disability around the world. The NINDS study, in which researchers examined data from 117 studies conducted in 47 different countries, found that one in 10 people suffer from lower back pain, a discovery that no doubt startles many people, especially when considering the global scope of the study. A condition that affects 10 percent of the world may seem impossible to prevent, but there are steps men and women suffering from back pain can take to make their condition more manageable.

* Contact your physician. A bruised back or mild stiffness may not require the help of a physician. Such issues will likely disappear shortly enough to make medical attention unnecessary. But EmblemHealth recommends that people suffering with back pain visit a doctor if they experience numbness or tingling in their back, legs or arms; suffer pain after a fall; and/or are feeling pain with additional symptoms, including fever, trouble passing urine or unexplained weight loss. Such symptoms indicate that the back pain is more than just a temporary nuisance, and something that may need to be treated by a professional.

When a physician visit is necessary, the doctor will attempt to understand just what's causing the pain. Identifying the cause can help to develop an appropriate and effective course of treatment. The most common causes of back pain include bulging discs, pinched nerves, arthritis, muscle spasms or strains, and sciatica, a nerve condition that goes from the lower back through the hips. Some cases of back pain are a result of poor posture or tight muscles.

* Exercise regularly. When speaking with a physician, men and women who suffer from back pain should discuss exercise as a treatment method. Regular exercises such as riding a bicycle or swimming can improve strength and flexibility in the back. More complex exercises, such as yoga, also have been recommended to sufferers of back pain. Yoga improves flexibility and builds strength while also promoting strong bones which can reduce a person's risk of injury. Injuries that limit movement can increase a person's risk of developing back pain, so an exercise routine that builds flexibility and strong bones can be an effective way to manage or even prevent back pain.

* Sit up straight at work. Many people can trace their back pain to their offices, where uncomfortable chairs and poorly positioned desks don't provide the necessary support men and women need to reduce or prevent back pain. Chairs should provide adequate lower back support, and desks should be at a comfortable height that does not force the body to hunch or place itself in another awkward position just to get work done. When sitting, make sure you are sitting upright with your shoulders relaxed and your body against the back of your chair.

* Don't resort to too much rest. Long-time sufferers of back pain no doubt recall a time when physicians would prescribe rest to treat back pain. But too much sitting around has now been shown to worsen back pain. If you must rest, do so for only a day or two before gradually becoming more active. Swimming or walking can be great and less physically taxing ways to acclimate your body to physical activity after resting for a day or two due to back pain.

Studies have shown that back pain is prevalent across the globe. Coping with back pain is often painful, but there are healthy ways for men and women to manage their back pain and start feeling good again.