Causes of Back Pain and What You Can Do to Avoid It
Back pain is very common in adults and can affect nearly a third of the population. Pains can be dull and barely there or sharp and intense, and any range in between. There are many possible causes of back pain, and back pain can be short-term lasting only hours or days, or chronic with constant pain spanning over months or years, or indefinitely. There are a few methods that can help remedy the pain people feel in their back; some methods are more effective than others, and certain methods may be used depending on the type of pain experienced.
The most common cause of back pain is a result of a muscle or ligament strain. This can be caused by overexertion, improper or awkward movement, a fall or other injury, a condition such as pregnancy where the balance is shifted, lifting excess weight, poor posture, and high heeled shoes, to list a few good examples. Simply getting older or being overweight can be a major contributing factor to back pain. Sometimes pain can result from a disk pressing on a nerve. Arthritis, osteoporosis, scoliosis, fibromyalgia, cancer, and other bone conditions, diseases, or immune disorders may contribute to back pain. Psychological stress can also be the major cause of back pain as well as aggravate existing back pain or slowing recovery.
Chronic back pain is described as unexplained pain that lasts more than three months. Chronic as well as short-term back pain usually presents a mystery, and the definite causes are rarely known. Most acute (short-term) back pains will go away on their own without any actions to assist recovery.
A common relief for back pain includes over the counter medications, particularly non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen, and doctors may also prescribe muscle relaxers and/or other medications. Staying active, rather than staying in bed, tends to help one get better faster. You may think you need rest and to not work the muscles, but that's a myth. However, you should take it a little easy. For example, don't lift heavy objects or run a marathon while trying to heal! Physical therapy might be needed to help recovery in some cases. Exercise can help long-term back pain sufferers (it's not sure whether this helps with acute pain). Hot and cold treatments can bring relief for back pain. Massage, acupressure, acupuncture, and chiropractics might help the back, but there could also be some serious potential side effects (especially with chiropractics) such as damaged nerves or blood vessels in the spine. Antidepressant drugs might help the pain as well. Another remedy could be surgery in extreme cases.
For mild to moderate tolerable pain, you may not need to see a doctor as it will probably subside on its own without treatment, but there are certain instances where you should consult a physician. You should see a doctor if the pain is so severe it interferes with daily activities; if the pain persists more than a few weeks; if pain, weakness, numbing, or tingling persists in your arm(s) or leg(s); numbness in the groin or rectal area; difficulty controlling bowel or bladder; or high fever. Some of these can be caused by an infection or a pinched nerve, which you will want to get assessed by a medical professional.
To avoid back pain if you are pain-free, try to practice good posture. Stay fit. This will keep the muscles strong and aligned. Don't sit or stand too long. If you have a job that requires long periods of sitting or standing, try to shift your posture every so often and take breaks to stretch throughout the shift. When standing for long periods you can try propping your foot on a box, low shelf, or stool, for example. Lift properly with your legs rather than your back. When lying in bed on your back, prop a pillow or bolster under your knees; when lying on your side, place a pillow between your bent knees. Avoid high heels whenever possible.
Back pain can range from mild to severe, and can be caused by a number of issues. Most back pain goes away on its own, but sometimes can result in a permanent disability or can be quite serious otherwise. There are many remedies that might ease the pain, and there are precautions you can take to avoid having back pain. Educating yourself about back pain and staying healthy is a great way to avoid back pain and to know when to seek treatment.
(Originally published on Associated Content/Yahoo! Contributor Network, a site which is no longer in operation.)
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