If you’ve ever groaned, “Oh, my aching back!”, you are not alone. Back pain is one of the most common medical problems, affecting 8 out of 10 people at some point during their lives. Back pain can range from a dull, constant ache to a sudden, sharp pain. Acute back pain comes on suddenly and usually lasts from a few days to a few weeks. Back pain is called chronic if it lasts for more than three months.
Most back pain goes away on its own, though it may take a while. However, staying in bed for more than 1 or 2 days can make it worse.
If your back pain is severe or doesn’t improve after three days, you should call Dr. Carraway’s office. You should also get medical attention if you have back pain following an injury.
One of the best ways to prevent back pain is to keep your back muscles strong. Follow these steps to help protect your back and prevent back pain:
• Listen to your body, and don’t push through pain during any exercise or activities.
• Set up your work and home office ergonomically. Use a small lumbar support at your waist level when sitting, feet flat on the floor with the knees at a 90 degree angle. The middle of the computer monitor should be at eye level, and the keyboard just above your lap with the arms at 90 degrees or a little lower.
• Get up and move. Do not sit for more than one hour at a time. Take one minute each hour to stretch a different part of your body.
• Use good body mechanics when lifting or moving objects. Avoid bending over at the waist to pick things up; use your legs — never your back.
• If you have to perform heavy manual labor, take frequent breaks, and stretch throughout the day.
• Don’t be a weekend warrior. Take time to stretch every day in preparation for your favorite weekend sports.
• Strong core muscles help support your back. Simple balance exercises such as standing on one leg for one to two minutes will work your abdominal muscles without the need for sit-ups.
• If you are re-starting an exercise routine, start low and slow. See how your body adapts before increasing time or intensity.
• If you are overweight, work on losing weight to help lower the strain on your back.
Practicing healthy habits and taking preventive measures will reduce your chances of suffering from back pain, whether you are 5 years old or 75 years old. Taking care of your body before a problem appears is always the best medicine.