Back pain is incredibly common. According to the National Institute of Health, it’s one of the most common problems that people have in the United States. In fact, most Americans will suffer from back pain at least once.
Two Types Of Back Pain
There are, as with most types of pain, two common types of back pain:
- Acute pain. This generally lasts for 6 weeks or less. It’s not pleasant while you’re suffering from it but an end is in sight.
- Chronic pain. This will last, typically, for 3 months or more. It can be truly debilitating as there is almost nothing that we do that doesn’t involve moving our back. Even sleeping requires you put pressure on your back.
The Symptoms Of Back Pain
Both types of back pain, both acute and chronic, have similar symptoms. They may include one or all of the following:
- A deep muscular ache in a clearly defined area.
- A shooting or stabbing pain when in motion or when you’re resting in a particular position.
- A pain that spreads all the way down your legs.
- A level of restricted motion in your back.
Self-medication is often the way forward when you have back pain for the first time. Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory treatments such as ibuprofen are often all it takes to handle back pain. You can combine this with heat gels or ice packs to further relieve the inflammation.
You might also want to consider adding some curcumin to your daily routine to give the anti-inflammatories a boost too.
When Your Back Pain Should Lead To A Trip To See Your Family Physician
As I say, most of the time, back pain will clear up with a little self-medication and treatment. But… there are times when you should visit the doctor and these include:
- If the pain doesn’t go away in two weeks. Don’t be a “brave little soldier”, doctors are paid to help people in pain. If the pain isn’t gone in a reasonable time frame, it’s time to get it looked at.
- Any changes in bowel or bladder behavior. In this instance, back pain may be a warning sign of something more serious.
- Any onset of fever. Fever can mask a huge range of problems and back pain might be a minor expression of something more severe.
- The pain developed after a fall or being struck on the back or any other kind of accident. It might be that you hurt yourself worse than you realized. Check it out.
- It begins to spread down your legs or to affect your legs. It might be nothing but it might be something.
- Unexplained weight loss. This is a huge warning sign and means a quick to the doctor even if you have no back pain.
Also, those with a history of cancer, osteoporosis and any kind of addiction/abuse problem should visit a doctor with back pain. This is doubly true if you are over 50.
What Typically Causes Back Pain?
Back pain is a funny thing and there’s no typical list of causes but… there are things that are commonly linked to back pain and these include:
- Muscular strain. No surprises here. If you lift things that are too heavy or have poor posture when you do your lifting; you’re going to hurt your back. This is particularly true if you don’t get regular exercise.
- Disc problems. The discs are a layer of cartilage that lay between the vertebrae (the bones in your spine). When they bulge or rupture, they will start to press on a nerve. That hurts. It’s worth noting sometimes a bulging or ruptured disk doesn’t press on a nerve. So don’t assume it has to hurt for a disc to be causing problems.
- While all types of arthritis can affect the back, the most common cause of back pain ensuing from arthritis is osteoarthritis. It often leads to lower back pain.
- Scoliosis and other back deformities. This won’t be any real surprise but if your back isn’t the standard shape, it may lead to pain and problems over time.
- This is a disease which leads to the bones becoming brittle and easy to damage. It can affect anywhere in the body but also the spine.
What Risk Factors Are Associated With Back Pain
It is always important to note that people who undertake risky behaviors do not always end up with back pain. That doesn’t mean that these aren’t risk factors for problems just that those people have been lucky.
Research shows that these are all factors which lead to back pain for many people:
- Getting older. You can’t help this one but people in their 30’s get more back pain than those younger than them and every decade older, even more, people have back pain.
- A lack of regular exercise. Exercise is great for all types of pain. It helps you lose weight and strengthens muscle.
- Being overweight. Your spine has to carry that weight. The more weight you put on it, the more pain you’re going to be in.
- You can’t help these either but certain genetic conditions and infectious diseases, as well as cancer, can lead to back pain.
- Bad lifting technique. If you’re going to lift anything, you should make sure you know how to do so safely. Poor lifting can damage even the youngest, healthiest, fittest back.
- Smoking is awful all round but for back pain, it can mean that your discs don’t absorb enough nutrients causing them to decay.
- Psychological issues. Depression and anxiety lead to pain. One expression of pain is back pain.
Preventing Back Pain
If you’d like to avoid back pain – you can take positive steps to do so. You can also, even if you suffer from back pain, take these steps to reduce your pain:
Get Regular Exercise
Seriously. If you want a stronger back, you need to exercise the muscles of the back. However, that doesn’t mean go and start lifting 100 Kg weights today. It means developing a sensible program that allows you to build strength in your back.
Don’t overdo things, to begin with. I’d recommend that you start with walking and/or swimming and gently work up to something more strenuous. Don’t forget to talk your options through with a medical professional.
A good routing, once you’ve got started, might be Rehabzone’s Lower Back and Core Exercise Plan. You can find it on Amazon.
Develop Muscle Strength And Flexibility
Sure, this is pretty much the same as “get regular exercise” except for the fact that it also means “focus on working out your back muscles” too. Your core muscle structure needs attention to ensure that you get the most out of it.
I’ve found that this work out program on Amazon can help with that: The Ultimate Back Pain Relief Program by 24Seven Wellness & Living. It comes as Three Separate One Hour DVD’s
Maintain A Healthy Weight
Exercise can help with losing weight but let’s be honest – a healthy diet is the real key to a slimmer waistline. I can recommend the anti-inflammatory diet that Thomas and I follow. It’s healthy, it’s tasty and best of all, the pounds fly off in no time.
The less weight you carry around the middle, the less pain you’re going to be in. It’s that simple and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see the truth. This isn’t “fat shaming”, we were both carrying a lot of extra weight when we started but it is the way that our bodies work.
Learn To Stand Properly
They didn’t teach this at school and as far as I am concerned, they really should have. But if you learn to stand properly, you massively reduce the stress on your back. This is easy to do, it’s free to learn, and you will get the benefit very quickly.
When possible – sit don’t stand. When you have to stand – place a foot on a low footstool to remove some of the load on the back. Keep your body weight evenly spread through your posture.
Learn To Sit Properly Too
You back needs the right support when you sit. The best chair has excellent lower back support, it offers armrests and ideally, it also has a swivel base. Don’t be afraid to put a small pillow in the small of your back if you find it’s not a comfortable position without it. Keep knees and hips level while you sit. Always change your sitting position (or go for a walk) ever 30 minutes or so.
And these chairs don’t have to cost the earth. Check out this excellent back-friendly model on Amazon for just $39.99 including shipping!
Learn To Lift Properly
This isn’t to be taken for granted. Most of us don’t work out how to lift well through intuition, we need to be taught.
Fortunately, it’s very easy to learn to lift safely. I like to keep one of these handy reminder cards on the wall in my garage and refer to it before I try to lift anything. You can find them on Amazon as well.
Don’t Buy Shoe Inserts, Back Supports, Or Other Things Not Mentioned Here
We’re all about the evidence at Pain Authority and if there’s no evidence that supports the use of a specific product or technique to manage pain – we’re not buying it or recommending it.
Shoe inserts, special shoes, mattresses fora backache and a dozen other “for your back” products have absolutely no evidence to support their use.
Now, that doesn’t mean that they don’t work at all. The placebo effect suggests that there’s very little on earth that doesn’t have an effect for somebody. But for something to have scientific evidence it’s effective – it has to be better than the placebo effect.
These things aren’t better than the placebo effect. Don’t buy them.
What To Do When You Have Chronic Back Pain?
If the preventative methods have failed you, then you need to spend time with your doctor working out what to do.
- Diagnose the cause
- Provide some form of pain relief
- Possibly provides some form of treatment (if such a treatment exists)
- Treat any psychological issues caused by the pain
- Recommend diet and exercise changes
- Discuss any natural remedies that you want to try and approve them for use in your regime
Now, here at Pain Authority, we recommend that you always work with a physician for your pain. There is nothing to stop you treating your back with pharmaceuticals AND with natural remedies. Get the best of both worlds.
Natural Remedies For Back Pain
In addition to things we’ve already discussed, there are two natural medicines that I recommend for back pain:
- Curcumin as an anti-inflammatory agent. You MUST talk to your doctor about using curcumin if you are using prescription medication or you are pregnant. But in essence, it’s a naturally derived extract from turmeric. It tastes good. It works into a diet easily and it is a brilliant, scientifically proven, anti-inflammatory
- CBD Oil as a pain reliever. There is no better non-prescription painkiller than CBD oil. It’s proven to be effective on nearly every type of pain. It doesn’t get you high. It’s 100% legal and it’s a derivative of marijuana.
In summary, back pain is no fun. Nearly everybody gets it at some point in their lives. However, for most people, it goes away pretty quickly with some basic self-medication.
You can take steps to avoid getting back pain in the future – good posture, good diet, and exercise are the big ways to protect yourself.
Your doctor should be your first port of call for back pain but you can back up what they provide with curcumin and CBD Oil for even faster recovery.