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Back pain affects more than a million people around the year. Back pain can range from a chronic ache to a sudden, sharp pain. Acute back pain will strike you suddenly and usually lasts for a few weeks. Back pain is termed as chronic if it persists for more than two months at a stretch.
Back pain usually dissipates on its own after some time. However, if it does persist, you could always resort to over-the-counter pain killers coupled with a lot of rest. However, ensure that you lead an active lifestyle as well to prevent your back from stiffening.
If you are suffering from back pain, chances are that you may have sprained or injured it while performing activities at home or at work. Here are some of the causes of back pain:
- Bending in an awkward position or for a prolonged period of time
- Carrying, pushing or lifting heavy objects on a regular basis
- Slouching or sitting uncomfortably in a chair
- Twisting your body awkwardly
- Driving with your back hunched for a long period of time without taking adequate breaks
- Muscle overuse especially while playing a sport causes repetitive strain injury
There are certain risk factors associated with back pain, they are:
- Overweight Issues– being overweight places an excess amount of pressure on the spine
- Smoking–has the potential to cause tissue damage in the back. People who smoke lead unhealthier lifestyles which can also cause back pain
- Pregnancy– pregnant women suffer from severe back pains due to the weight of the baby, thereby affecting their spine
- Medication used for a long period of time– medication such as corticosteroids can lead to back pain
- Stress– Stress can take a massive toll on your back muscles
- Depression– back pain can cause you to fall into a depression which can then lead to weight gain, leading to increased pain and added depression.
The common signs and symptoms associated with back pain include:
- Back stiffness caused by constant bending
- Muscle spasms which can be caused by a sudden jerk reaction
- Tenderness around the back muscles
- Shooting pain down the legs
- Numbness of the legs
- Weakness in the legs
- Numbness in the groin
- Difficulty during urination
Here are some ways your doctor will diagnose back pain:
- Back Pain EMG Test
- Mobility and nervous function test
- Blood and urine tests to rule out an infection
- MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) test
- Spinal X-Ray
Treating a back pain will depend on the severity of the pain experienced. Here are some of the options available:
- Painkillers: Painkillers like paracetamol will provide relief
- Hot and cold treatments: Placing a hot water bag or an ice pack on the affected area will help relieve pain
- Sleeping position: A change in your sleeping position may reduce the pain in your back.
- Relaxation: Relaxing is a great way of easing the pain because stress can cause back pain
- Keep moving: Try and be as active as possible to ensure that you do not feel the effects of back pain. Maintain a routine of going for a walk regularly to keep your body in motion. However, by staying in one position or not moving at all will cause back problems.
- Exercise and lifestyle: One of the common causes of back pain is being overweight. Therefore, if you are overweight and suffer from back pain, try to make certain lifestyle changes to help ease the back pain. Doing some light exercise in the morning or even a little bit of cardio will go a long way in ensuring that you remain healthy without having to battle back pains.
Acupressure uses the same points and works the same way as acupuncture. The only difference is instead of needles, acupressure therapy uses gentle but firm finger or hand pressure.
Although you may experience pain relief pretty quickly with acupressure, don’t expect an immediate cure. “From my clinical experience, I have found that people with chronic pain must consistently practice the methods in Acupressure Pain Relief on the average of three times a day to achieve long-term benefits”, says Dr. Michael Gach, the author of ‘Acupressure Pain Relief.’
It is better to stay away from acupressure if you are pregnant since acupressure could harm the fetus, according to experts. Acupressure therapists sometimes use Chinese massage therapy along with acupressure for added pain relief. Discuss with your therapist before you begin.
Reiki practitioners believe that although low back pain and associated sensations are a physical reality, its roots can be traced to your emotional life and history. Reiki works by rebalancing energy flow and reducing the stress through stressful emotion release.
If you want to do Reiki as self-treatment, try these steps –
- Rest your hands on the hollow of the lower back above the buttocks. Place the hands either horizontally with palms facing up or down (whatever is comfortable), or in a V-shape, that is, the heel of each hand at the waist level and fingers pointing slightly downward. Hold the position for 2 to 3 minutes.
- Place one hand on each buttock and hold the position for 2 – 3 minutes.
Reiki is a non-intrusive hands-on holistic healing technique, so just placing the hands on the affected parts won’t suffice. Make an intention; the healing energy has to flow out of your hands to the affected parts. The main chakra for lower back pain healing is the root chakra. Visit a certified Reiki therapist for your lower back pain.
3. Spinal manipulation / chiropractic
Chiropractic treatment is a type of manual therapy in which a high-velocity, short lever arm thrust is applied to the affected vertebral bone. This type of spinal manipulation helps improve functionality and restores range of motion in the lower back.
Research conducted at Palmer Center for Chiropractic Research, Davenport, USA, indicates that adding chiropractic manipulative therapy to standard medical care offers a significant advantage for decreasing pain and improving physical functioning for individuals between 18 and 35 years of age with acute low back pain (not for persistent low back pain).
Spinal manipulation is not something you can do on your own. Do make an appointment with a certified chiropractor. Expect to answer basic, but important questions such as the first time you noticed the pain, location of the pain, etc. Describe your pain well, in as much detail as you can and also carry your pre-existing medical conditions, family history, etc.
Hydrotherapy or water therapy is a treatment consisting of exercises done in the pool, water spas, and even your bathtub. These exercises are specifically designed to relieve lower back pain and to increase the mobility and strength of the lower back.
The hydrotherapy program generally consists of 3 sessions per week for 4 weeks. Each session is of 20 minutes duration in the first week, and increases by 5 minutes every week.
The warm-up prior to exercise consists of walking forward, backwards, and sideways in shoulder-deep water. This is followed by holding on to a rail with both hands and hip flexion alternated by knee flexion; then hip and lumbar extension with a straight leg, and last, alternate hip abduction.
Exercises include –
- standing with feet shoulder width apart, and doing trunk rotation, hand lifting and sliding, and hip movements
- floating supine with hip and neck support, and doing knee and leg flexion, pushing both hands and feet simultaneously under water, freestyle kicking, and even backstroke and breaststroke swimming for those who enjoyed swimming