If you’re like most of the population, you’ve probably experienced lower back pain at some point in your life. If it’s something that you’re going through right now and you’ve decided to call out of work and spend the day on the couch, you may be doing your back more harm than good.
That’s because research has shown that working through back pain and staying stationary has been shown to delay healing.
Though the idea of sticking with your normal activity may run counter to everything you’ve heard in recent years, it is exactly the advice (or response) that was offered decades ago. More movement and less time sitting around apparently stimulates something in the nervous system that impacts the way our bodies respond to pain, resolving it faster and helping us move past it to heal and rehabilitate.
Experts theorize that moving may be a survival mechanism, easing pain and quickening healing as a result of the evolutionary need to keep moving or be eaten (or starve to death.) Though there is little risk of those outcomes today, it still holds true that continuing to move, exercise and work may be the best medicine.
One of the more interesting things that science has found about back pain is that it tends to be a bigger problem for those who are in their 40s and 50s than for those who are older, despite the fact that the degenerative process continues as people age. This is even true for those who have been diagnosed with a specific physical problem like arthritis or a herniated disc.
What pain experts are beginning to believe is that there is a neurological healing process in which your nervous system adapts to pain, eventually allowing minor discomfort to fade out of your consciousness. This adjustment happens much more quickly when you continue to move and exercise than for those who make the decision to just lie around.
There is no doubt that herniated or bulging discs and degenerative discs are a very real physical problem — especially as we get older. And you can injure your back just as easily when you’re leaning over to tie your shoes as you can by lifting something heavy or twisting the wrong way.
As we age and our tissues and muscles weaken, back problems become inevitable, but pain doesn’t have to be.
If you begin to experience pain that doesn’t go away after a few weeks, contact our lumbar spine specialist in New Jersey to set up an appointment to diagnose your problem and identify your best options.
In most cases, conservative approaches including exercise, over-the-counter pain medications, physical therapy and manipulation are enough to provide you with relief. If those things fail, minimally invasive spine surgery may be the answer for you.