Perhaps you bent the wrong way while lifting something heavy. Or you have a degenerative condition like arthritis. Whatever the cause, once you have back pain, it can be hard to shake. Almost everyone can expect to experience some degree of back pain in their life, and around half of all people who get back pain will get it again.

 

The majority of back problems are ‘mechanical’ in nature –affecting the muscles, ligaments and joints. The first step to managing this type of back pain is to keep active and resume normal activities – work, sport and recreation – as soon as possible. You can prevent further problems by proper use of the back and keeping it in good shape.

However, you do need to seek medical attention if it’s serious, of course. See your doctor if you have back pain and any warning signs such as:

 

  • Severe pain that gets worse instead of better over time

 

  • You are unwell with back pain or have a fever.

 

  • Difficulty passing or controlling urine or bowel motions.

 

  • Numbness, pain, pins-and-needles or weakness in your legs or genitals.

 

  • Difficulty standing or walking.

Be strong

 

Strengthening the muscles that support your lower back is an essential part of avoiding ongoing back problems. There are many small abdominal, pelvic and hip muscles that help to maintain the proper posture and alignment of your spine. A physiotherapist or exercise physiologist can suggest exercises to support a stronger healthier back.

 

Stretch

 

Don't sit slumped in your desk chair all day. Get up every 20 minutes or so and stretch your back and legs. You may be surprised how much this simple task

 

helps.

 

Work ergonomically

 

Design your workspace to improve your posture. Your head and neck should be forward facing in and neutral position, shoulders should be relaxed, forearms level, knees slightly lower than your hips, feet flat on the floor and lower back supported.

 

Practice good posture

 

The way we lift, sit at our desks, and do hundreds of minor tasks can all affect our backs. Keep your back in a neutral position at all times to minimise back aches.

Chill it

 

Ice is best in the first two days after an injury occurs because it reduces swelling and inflammation. Even though warmth feels good, the heat actually worsens the initial inflammatory processes. After 48 hours, you can switch from ice to heat to help relax the muscles and encourage blood flow for faster healing. Whenever you are applying heat or ice – make sure you remove it after about 20 minutes to prevent skin irritation.

Keep moving

 

Our spines are a complex machine, designed to keep mobile. Even when you are injured, keep doing your daily activities. Make the beds, go to work, walk the dog.

Sitting or lying still will only make the joints stiffen up; whereas, moving will keep the blood flowing through to clean up all the inflammatory mediators. Once you are feeling better, you can resume regular aerobic exercises like swimming, bicycling, and walking to keep you (and your back) stronger and healthier. Just don't overdo it.

Pain relief

 

There are a variety of analgesic (pain-relieving) and anti-inflammatory medications that can help reduce or relieve back pain. Ask your friendly pharmacist at your local Direct Chemist Outlet for advice on the right pain relief option for you. 

This is particularly important with tasks which involve a lot of bending, such as gardening, caring for children and housework. Always try to bend from your knees

 

and keep your back straight when doing things at ground level.

Maintain a healthy weight

 

Having a large stomach causes us to tilt our spines backwards to avoid falling over. Any woman who has been pregnant will agree that this tilt makes life very uncomfortable! Keeping your weight under control will help reduce strain on your back.

 

Wear sensible shoes

 

Exchange your high heels for flats or low heels (less than 2 cms). High heels cause your hips to tilt forward, creating a more unstable posture, and increase pressure on your lower spine.


DISCLAIMER: This material contains general information about medical conditions and treatments and is intended for educational purposes only. It does not constitute medical or professional advice, nor should it be used for the purposes of diagnosing or treating any illness. If you have or suspect you may have a health problem, you should consult your local pharmacist or health care provider to obtain professional advice relevant to your specific circumstances.