Although not normally representative of a serious medical condition, back pain can be very debilitating and change an individual’s quality of life as well as impacting upon working life and close relationships with family and friends. The best way is to avoid back problems occurring in the first instance and there are many activities that will help the avoidance of back problems. However, if you are suffering with back pain, the following advice may be helpful to managing the pain:
Make sure you stay as active as possible; walking and moving around the house might be all you can manage, but you need to try to keep your muscles moving. Exercise such as walking and swimming, which will mobilise and strengthen the back muscles to support your spine, and yoga or Pilates, which will stretch the muscles of the back, are recommended to assist the healing and prevent further episodes of back pain. Choose an activity you enjoy and take it slowly; the pain should be manageable. Exercise also makes the body release natural pain relief in the form of the hormone, Endorphin. Applying or removing heat has also shown to help manage muscular pain. Try applying a hot water bottle, or getting in a warm bath to ease the pain. Alternatively, applying an ice pack (or a pack of frozen vegetables) on the affected area can reduce inflammation and therefore reduce pain.
Many people will use over the counter painkillers such as Paracetamol and Ibuprofen to manage short term back pain. These may allow you to relax whilst the pain is subsided and become more mobile, both of which will alleviate your back pain. A GP or a pharmacist will be able to offer advice on the most appropriate type of medication for you.
Lastly, pain causes us to tense up, worsening the back pain symptoms. Therefore, if you can manage to relax by having a warm bath or using some deep breathing techniques, this should help to alleviate the level of pain you are experiencing.
If you have recurring bouts of back pain, the following advice may be useful:
- Maintain a healthy weight; too much upper body weight can strain the lower back
- Try to manage your stress levels which can lead to back pain, particularly of the upper back and neck
- Consider your lifting techniques and avoid sudden movements which can cause muscle strain
- Think about improving your posture whilst sitting and standing
- Think about footwear; high heels alters the alignment of your back therefore causing additional pressure
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