‘Hai meri kamar!’ We have all grown up hearing our grandmother say this cliched line. And then, in her crooked voice, she would ask us to fetch the bottle of balm that seemed to make the back pain vanish in a whiffy. At least, that is what the promising TV commercials depict. But that certainly didn’t happen, as the pain would come back (no pun intended!) after some time and grandmother would request you to massage her back. Back pain relief was, perhaps, her ultimate dream.
But the back pain didn’t appear overnight. It was the resultant of a lifetime of back discomforts that she, and many others like her, ignored. Unfortunately, the situation aggravated over the years.
Back Pain is perhaps the most underrated physical discomfort in the world. We ignore it, apply innumerable pain relief ointments, or try endless amounts of exercises and massages.
And that, in my opinion, is quite ironic given the importance the back holds in human anatomy. It is the back that supports the spine, which in turn connects the brain with the rest of the body through the central nervous system.
The ways we use to get rid of back pain are, in most of the cases, short term solutions. The root cause of the disease doesn’t get addressed in most. And thus, above the age of 50, the pain becomes unbearable.
Origins of back pain
Before treating a disease, it is important to know its origin. The same holds true for back pain. There may be numerous reasons for the occurrence of back pain. Here are some of the most common causes:
Knowing the underlying cause of back pain is crucial to determine the line of treatment and recovery time. However, most of the back pain (especially in younger populations) is non-specific, i.e. structural damage may not be found.
But a variety of other factors contribute to the back pain. Such non-specific back pain should not be considered dangerous and can be very well managed by simple strengthening, flexibility and endurance exercises!
8 Super easy tips for back pain relief
1. Rest: does not mean complete bed rest. Here rest means to temporarily reduce the load on structures which may be causing the back pain and allow them to relax! This offloading can be generally achieved by working within the pain-free movements and gradually getting back to all previous movements, a concept known as ‘active rest’!
2. Avoid lifting weights: do not lift weights which can be a bag of grocery or a bucket of water, to dumbbells in the gym.
3. Stop strenuous activities in the early phase: this may include activities like gardening, house cleaning, gym, yoga, Zumba, aerobics, running, etc.
4. Avoid extreme activities: Do not perform extreme movements like forwarding, backward and side bending, twisting, squatting, etc. which can cause loading of the back region.
5. Hot or cold fomentation: 10 to 20mins of icing or heat (lukewarm) therapy can help to suppress the pain. You can repeat this 3 to 4 times a day.
6. Discover the most comfortable resting position: At times, being in a wrong sitting or sleeping pose might also worsen the back pain. Try experimenting and find the best possible position to rest. Also, keep a note of the pose you were in before the back pain started or magnified.
7. Consult an expert: Never take back pain lightly. In case back pain occurs after a fall or trauma, immediately consult a medical expert. Even if the complaints are persistent, the advice is to consult a healthcare expert before the situation aggravates.
8. Avoid exercises: At times, we try out various exercises on our friends or relatives’ recommendation. However, doing any exercises without citing medical expertise may worsen your condition then better it. What has worked for them might not work for you, since the cause of pain might be different. Avoid exercising voluntarily.
When should you see an expert?
- Pain has started after a fall or direct hit.
- If the pain worsens.
- Pain travels down the leg (one or both).
- Tingling or numbness or weakness in the lower body.
- Bowel bladder complaints arise.
- Abnormal curvatures of the spine.
- Other signs like weight loss or fever.
- Before starting an exercise regime.
Long term back pain relief
1. Maintain good posture
The human spine was never designed to be a static straight rod. Your spine needs optimal movement to be healthy. Thus, it is important to avoid any kind of prolonged static postures. The way one sleeps, sits, stands, gets up, walks, performs daily activities or any exercise matters.
Proper posture needs to be maintained throughout the day: at home, at work, while travelling as well as while relaxing. Most of the times, back pain occurs due to wrong posture or awkward position assumed while performing any activity or movement.
Creating awareness about body position helps to activate the correct muscles and avoid muscle tightness. A good posture ensures the optimal load on all structures of the body like muscles, joints and ligaments.
A physiotherapist can suggest and teach exercises specifically for postural corrections. You can also use various types of visual, verbal and tactile cues and biofeedback mechanisms like mirrors and tapes to increase adherence.
2. Regular exercise
You should start initial exercises under supervision and expert guidance. The types of exercises recommended in back pain vary depending on the cause of pain. For example, exercises which will relieve back pain as a result of muscle spasm are different than exercises which will reduce disc-related back pain.
Avoid stopping exercises after the pain subsides. Instead, you can modify your activities in order to strengthen the weaker muscles. An ideal was it to that you target the core as well as abdominal muscles.
A physiotherapist gradually increases the exercise intensity and difficulty level. Therefore, the recommendation is to undertake follow-ups and regular monitoring for long term benefit.
One can go back to pre-back pain activity level, physical activity or exercise regime like gym, yoga, swimming, etc. after getting a clearance from the medico.
The advice is to do physical exercise after a back pain episode to maintain mobility, muscle strength and endurance.
Aerobic exercise is still really underused super-pill for prevention & relief of back pain! Aerobic exercise alters several factors ranging from your mental stress levels to your endurance; factors which may all be somewhat implicated in your back pain episode… A nice jog in your neighbourhood or a refreshing swim might be all you need to keep your back moving & healthy!
3. Weight management
Obesity leads to a lot of postural changes in the spine. This increases the loading of the back, which can eventually lead to back pain. Thus proper weight management with personalized diet & exercise plans may decrease episodes of back pain.
4. Modifications at home and desk
Making your workplace and home friendlier and less demanding for your back is helpful in the long run. You can limit frequently bending, lifting heavyweight from lower levels, squatting to reduce the constant stress on the back. It is also essential to learn the right way to move, pick up and lift.
5. Stress management
Recent research into chronic back pain shows a high association of factors like stress, anxiety & fear with back pain. Pain-related fear of movement & low expectation of recovery from back pain also results in chronicity.
Thus, strategies to manage & cope with stress (physical or mental) play an essential role in back pain management. As mentioned above, regular aerobic exercise helps wonderfully in this aspect.
Someone who wants to prevent back pain can follow the above set of guidelines. Consult an expert physiotherapist before starting, modifying or progressing your exercise routine, so get the best results.
Tired of prolonged back pain? Don’t ignore, get the best back pain relief advice here
Back pain of any origin can be treated and managed well under the guidance of an expert physiotherapist. The physiotherapists at REHAB STATION, are experts at treating and preventing back pain using manual and exercise therapy skills and advanced electrotherapy technology. It is among the most renowned sports and musculoskeletal centric physiotherapy labs situated in the heart of Pune city.
“Prevention is better than cure” is the least applied phrase in the modern world. REHAB STATION also aims at spreading awareness regarding Preventive Rehabilitation (PREHAB) with customized exercise programs and activities.