Back to Basics
Whether it is an occasional twinge, a dull ache, or the excruciating pain of a sudden injury, most people at some point in time develop back pain. Back pain may be the result of moving incorrectly, poor posture, or a sedentary lifestyle. Regardless of the cause, most pain can be reduced with just a few simple steps.
This simple exercise is helpful in many ways. Walking helps lubricate the discs (the shock absorbers in the back) by moving fluid in and out. Since the discs do not receive a blood supply, this movement of fluid is the only way to provide nutrients to the discs. The fluid keeps the discs spongy and flexible. Walking also helps strengthen muscles in the back and legs, which provide additional support.
Most importantly, it can help by reducing body weight, causing less stress on the back. Before you begin an exercise program, you and your doctor should decide the type and amount of exercise that will be best for you. Walking is one of the safest types of exercise, but pace, frequency, and distance should be included in the discussion with your doctor. Be sure to walk with proper posture. Start with a few minutes a day and slowly work towards 20-30 minutes every day.
Before doing any work or exercise, it is important to “warm up” your body. Slow, deliberate stretches help improve flexibility. These warm ups reduce the incidence of back injuries. There are a large number of suitable stretching programs. Your doctor can help determine which stretches would be best for you.
Many common injuries can be the result of improper footwear. A good walking shoe will have a padded heel, solid support, and a flexible sole. Comfortable shoes absorb shock and reduce the stress on the spine. Reduce the time wearing high-heeled shoes. Though stylish, these shoes seldom absorb shock and often cause back alignment problems because the hips and back are not in proper alignment.
Use a Back Support
The back support helps keep the spine aligned while sitting or driving. These supports do not have to be expensive. Something as easy as a small pillow or a rolled-up towel placed in the back of a chair can create the support necessary for maintaining a healthy back. This is particularly helpful if sitting for long periods of time, such as during a car or plane trip. Occasionally, even when all preventive measures have been taken, there may be pain. This is where an orthopedic specialist can often help. A medical evaluation can often diagnose spine or disc problems, as well as rule out other potential problems. This evaluation can include an in-depth medical history, physical exam, and diagnostic testing.
Upon diagnosis, a team approach, including the patient, is then employed to improve spine or back health. Patient participation in the recovery and developing healthy lifestyle changes should improve back pain. Even in the cases when surgery is needed, the same basic preventive measures are crucial to recovery. The goal of treatment is to restore your quality of life.
Cigarette smoking decreases the blood supply to the discs, causing lower back pain.
For more information about what you can do to reduce your risk of developing back pain, please call (918) 494-AOOK (2665).