Preventing Back Pain

back pain

By Sagar Parikh, MD

Let’s face it.  Most of us will at one point in our lives utter the words “oh my aching back”.  It is no surprise that back pain is the most common complaint that pain physicians hear from their patients.   One would think that by now we would have developed the instant cure for back pain, however that discovery has not been made yet (despite what many infomercials tell you).    The back is more complex than one would think; a well woven tapestry of bones, muscles, ligaments, and nerves all of which can be generators of pain.

We have a wide array of therapies at our disposal including physical therapy, exercise, chiropractic treatments, medications, alternative medicine, back injections, and surgery however we do not always agree on a standard algorithm for treatment.   Thus if I were to write someone a prescription for preventing back pain, it would include the following:

1)      Stay Active

Our bodies are meant to be in motion.  Sedentary lifestyles for many reasons promote weakness and stiffness of the muscles of our lower back.  In addition, a state of prolonged lumbar flexion (which occurs while sitting) places the highest pressure on one’s intervertebral discs.  Even an activity as simple as walking for 30 minutes every day can be highly beneficial.

2)      Lose Weight / Nutrition

Our spine provides us with stability.   When we have excess weight around our abdomen, it provides a constant forward pull on our spine. Compounded with weak back muscles, the excess weight will cause strain on our backs enough to result in back pain.  Proper nutrition and weight-loss can prevent this strain from occurring.

3)      Work on your core

Your lower back has multiple joints located in between the vertebral segments and like any joint in your body, there are muscles and ligaments that surround it to give it more stability and strength.  Strengthening your abdominal, oblique and back musculature can add stability to your spine.

4)      Know your limits

Unless you’re an athlete by trade you need to know your limits.  Working a grueling sedentary job during the week and powering through workouts on the weekend may cause you more injury than aide.  Make sure your workouts are consistent and remember to pace yourself.  If you haven’t exercised in years, make sure you start off jogging before sprinting.

Learn more: http://upmcpainmedicine.com

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