Do you struggle with back pain? If so, you’re not alone.
Approximately half of all working Americans experience back pain each year, and it is the second most common reason for doctor’s visits.
If you’re currently experiencing back pain, or know someone who is, it’s important to know that you have options when it comes to getting rid of that pain. It may be common, but that doesn’t mean you have to accept it as part of your daily life.
Read on to learn all about what you can do to start reducing back pain and improving your quality of life for good.
Common Causes of Back Pain
First, it’s important to figure out what’s causing your back pain. Some of the most common causes of back pain include:
- Ligament sprains
- Muscle strains
- Ruptured discs
- Inflamed joints
- Poor posture
- Being overweight or obese
- Psychological stress
Internal diseases like kidney infections, kidney stones, bone density loss, and blood clots can also cause back pain.
Tips for Reducing Back Pain
Once you’ve figured out the cause (or causes) of your back pain, you can start taking steps to correct the issue.
There are a number of different treatments out there that can help minimize your pain. The following are some of the most effective options:
This treatment is especially effective for acute back pain — pain that occurs suddenly after a sports injury, car accident, or another event.
For the first 48 hours after your pain hits, ice your back in 20-minute increments several times per day. Then, after those first 48 hours, start alternating between ice and heat (still in 20-minute increments).
Alternating between ice and heat will help reduce pain and swelling while also improving circulation to promote faster healing and loosen up tight muscles.
Wear Supportive Shoes
Often, poorly fitting or unsupportive footwear can cause back pain. This is especially common if your job requires you to be on your feet for extended periods of time.
Look for a pair of shoes that fit well and provide plenty of arch support. You can also buy orthotic inserts to wear inside shoes you already have.
Buy a New Mattress
Most mattresses do not last longer than 10 years before they start to sag and wear out. If your mattress is nearing or has surpassed the 10-year mark, it’s probably a good idea to buy a new one.
Look for a moderately firm mattress that will provide support but still give you some cushioning and comfort.
If you’re struggling with back pain, probably the last thing you want to do is exercise. In reality, though, this is one of the best things you can do.
Exercising (especially strength training) helps correct muscle imbalances and strengthen your joints so they can better support your spine.
This is especially helpful if you have a sedentary job. Sitting for hours at a time contributes to chronic back pain.
Make an effort to get up every hour and walk around or perform basic exercises like lunges and squats. You may also find that you get a burst of energy when you do this, which can help you be more productive!
Visit a Chiropractor
If you think poor posture causes your back pain, a chiropractor can help realign your spine and relieve pressure that is contributing to your pain.
Many chiropractic offices, such as Active Health, also offer other pain relief treatments like acupuncture and massage. You can make use of all these alternative therapies for a more well-rounded pain management approach.
Whether your pain comes from an acute injury or from years of poor movement patterns, a physical therapist can help.
Physical therapy is especially great for correcting poor posture and retraining your muscles so they provide more even support.
In addition to showing you exercises that can help change the way you move, a physical therapist may also utilize techniques like electrical stimulation, ultrasound, and active release therapy.
Surprisingly, dehydration can also contribute to pain throughout the body. If you’re not drinking enough water, you could be making your back pain worse.
Aim to drink at least half your body weight in ounces each day. Sometimes the solution really is that simple.
Eat Anti-Inflammatory Foods
In addition to drinking enough water, cleaning up your diet can also make a big difference when you’re trying to relieve back pain.
Increase your consumption of antioxidant-rich, anti-inflammatory foods to help naturally get rid of your pain. The following are all good foods to include in your diet:
- Fruits and vegetables (especially berries and dark leafy greens)
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Fatty fish like salmon and sardines
At the same time, it’s also a good idea to clear your diet of inflammatory foods like processed vegetable oils, sugary packaged snacks, and fast food.
Maintain a Positive Attitude
Psychological stress and conditions like depression and anxiety often contribute to back pain. If you suffer from these, working with a cognitive behavioral therapist to change your thought patterns can make a big difference.
Therapy can also help you relate to your pain in a better way and change your attitude so that you can work on finding relief.
Preventing Back Pain
Once you’ve started treating your back pain, you’ll also want to take steps to prevent it from coming back. Some of the best things you can do to keep back pain at bay include:
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Continue eating a healthy, anti-inflammatory diet
- Continue exercising to keep your back muscles strong
- Stretch regularly
- Maintain good posture
- Lift heavy objects properly (bend at the knees and avoid twisting)
- Maintain good stress relief practices (meditation, journaling, therapy, etc.)
- Get plenty of sleep
These simple habits can make a big difference and work wonders for preventing future aches and pains.
As you can see, there are lots of the things you can do to start preventing and reducing back pain for good.
You now know how to get your back pain under control, but are there other aspects of your health that could use some fine-tuning?
If so, be sure to check out our healthy lifestyle articles today. Whether you need help with diet, exercise, or maintaining a positive mindset, we’ve got information that can help!