Fitness Facts: Back Pain - AVV Today

By Connie Colbert
AVV Director of Health Services

Connie Colbert

Back pain is one of the most common health complaints. Some of the interesting statistics about back pain are:

  • About 80% of Americans will have a back problem at some point in their life.
  • Low back pain is the leading cause of disability worldwide.
  • 54% of people with neck or back pain have had these problems for at least five years.
  • About 20% of patients with acute low back pain will end up with chronic pain.
  • In 9 out of 10 patients, the exact cause of their low back pain is not known exactly.
  • A sedentary lifestyle is the cause of back pain in more than half of the cases.
  • 63% of people say that a new mattress has helped them relieve their back pain.
  • Chronic low back pain statistics show the US costs more than $ 100 billion each year.
  • Only about 5% of Americans with back pain need surgery.
  • Regardless of treatment, 90% of low back pain resolves within six weeks.

Why do we get back pain?

The spine does a tough job! It must support the weight of the upper body and still be able to bend and turn in every direction. This puts a lot of strain on the lower back, especially in people who sit a lot or are inactive.

Many diseases can cause back pain. Some are natural events, such as pregnancy and emotional tension. Other factors that can contribute to back problems include physical trauma, sports injuries, poor physical fitness, or being overweight. Some additional examples are:

  • Overuse or improper use of the back (poor body mechanics) can lead to painful muscle cramps or back strain – that is, stretching or tearing muscles.
  • Weak abdominal muscles can lead to a sprain of the back (that is, stretched or torn ligaments instead of muscles) due to improper spine positioning.
  • Herniated discs or herniated discs can cause pain when the discs press on the spinal nerves. Pain can radiate to the legs as well as the back.
  • Stress or soft tissue damage as a result of an injury
  • Incorrect posture can result in stress on the back or a sprain as a result of incorrectly bending, lifting, sitting or standing.

Prevention is important! What can you do?

  • Eat a healthy diet and weight.
  • Stay active
  • Avoid prolonged inactivity or bed rest.
  • Warm up or stretch before exercising or physical activities such as gardening.
  • Maintain correct posture.
  • Wear comfortable, low-heeled shoes.
  • Sleep on a medium firm mattress to minimize any curve in your spine.
  • Lift with your knees, keep the object close to your body and do not twist it while lifting.
  • Stop smoking. Smoking impairs blood circulation, which leads to a lack of oxygen and nutrients in the spinal cord tissue.
  • Make sure you have an ergonomically correct computer workstation.

How can I relieve back pain?

Ice and heat

The application of ice and heat can greatly reduce the pain.

  • Ice can be applied at any time. Use ice for 10-20 minutes and place a wet towel between the ice pack and your body.
  • Heat is not recommended for the first 48 hours after the onset of back pain. After 48 hours, using heat or ice generally depends on what feels best for you. Use heat for a maximum of 20 minutes at a time.

Keep moving

You may not feel like it, but the best thing is to keep moving. Try to keep up with your usual levels of daily activity and exercise. It could be a brisk 30-minute walk or a walk with your dog. Aim at least three times a week. When you are seated, the muscles that strengthen your spine can become weak, which in turn can lead to increased pain.

over-the-counter pain relievers

Over-the-counter pain relievers can help relieve muscle pain and stiffness. The two main types of over-the-counter options are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) and acetaminophen. NSAIDs include aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen. Always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for dosage.

Topical creams

Skin creams, ointments, ointments, or plasters can help if your back feels stiff, sore, and tense. Many of these products contain ingredients such as menthol, camphor or lidocaine that can cool, heat or numb the affected area. Brand names of such products are Salonpas, IcyHot and Biofreeze.

Stretch and strengthen

Strong muscles, especially in your abdominal area, help support your back. Strength and flexibility can help relieve and prevent your pain.

Maintain good posture

Good posture helps relieve pressure on your lower back. You can use tape, straps, or stretchable tapes to keep your spine in alignment. Try to keep your head centered over your pelvis. Don’t let your shoulders sag or push your chin forward.

When working in front of a screen, place your arms evenly on the table or desk and keep your eyes level with the top of the screen. Get up from your chair and stretch and walk regularly.

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If you suffer from back pain and would like expert advice on treatment, do not hesitate to contact Canyon Health and Wellness Clinic and make an appointment at our Orthopedic Lopes Clinic (phone: 602-639-6215). Or, find a local provider to treat the condition.