Treating back pain: improving daily lifestyle habits

Back pain is a common ailment that many people suffer from. However, changing up your daily habits can have a huge impact on how you feel. Here are a few tips to relieving back pain:

Treating back pain: improving daily lifestyle habits

Avoiding the cycle of back pain

To treat chronic back pain, your doctor may prescribe a powerful NSAID or an opiate like Dilaudid or Percodan, suggest physical therapy and, in rare cases, even recommend surgery.

  • Most important, you'll need to be a proactive patient, exploring lifestyle measures that ease your particular problem.
  • Many experts stress the importance of breaking the vicious cycle of chronic back pain: injury leads to pain that leads to muscle tension and then negative emotions (fear, anxiety, irritation), which are followed by negative thoughts (worry, pessimism).
  • This "emotional guarding" and subsequent restriction of physical activity causes muscles to lose their strength and flexibility. At some point, even the most minor injury can start the cycle all over again.

Easy ways to ease back pain

There’s a lot you can do to recover from back pain — and to protect against future episodes. Here are some self-care measures that help.

  • When sitting, keep your spine straight against the back of the chair. A good back­­­­rest can help to sup­­port your lower back and encourage good posture. Cylindrical foam pillows called lumbar rolls will help keep you aligned (position them crosswise in the small of your back). Foam seat wedges can keep you from sinking down — and sacrificing your posture — on a squishy chair. Orthope­dic neck pillows support the natural curve of the neck, keeping the spine aligned.
  • When standing, avoid slumping. Set your head squarely above your shoulders, keeping your chin parallel to the floor and your neck straight. And most important: try to keep your abdominal muscles tight.
  • To sleep better, invest in a supportive mattress, or get a bed board to firm up a sagging one. Bed wedges are good for reading or watching TV in bed. Or use them to elevate your knees and ease pressure on your back. Exper­iment with various pillows (or pillow com­binations) to ensure your neck remains straight as you sleep. Before bed, ease your muscles with a warm bath.
  • To improve daily activities, dress for easy movement in loose clothing (tight pants and girdles can weaken abdominals) and flat (or low-heeled) shoes to avoid increasing the curvature of your back.

There you have it -- a few simple ways to deter back pain and establish a lifestyle healthy for your body. Try these tips along with talking to a doctor to get rid of your back pain.

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