Back pain is more than an irritation. It is one of the top reasons that people seek medical attention, and it accounts for $50 billion in medical costs, as well as huge sums in lost productivity. Though the condition is not life threatening, it represents an enormous quality of life issue that can interfere with everything from your ability to work or exercise to enjoyment of time with family and friends.
There are many steps that you can take to address your back pain, starting with home remedies and lifestyle changes that you can make to take control of your own life. Here at our New Jersey spine specialty practice, we encourage you to review these suggestions and try them for yourself. If they don’t make an improvement, then it may be time for you to seek medical attention from experts.
1. Start with Your Weight
It’s all too common for people to gain a few pounds as they age, but when it’s more than a little bit of extra it can have an impact on your spine. Remember that your back is what transports your body around, and the more weight that you are carrying, the more pressure you are putting on it. Extra weight is a particular problem if it’s belly fat, as you’re more likely to arch your back to compensate for the extra weight out front. Try shedding a few pounds and see if it doesn’t make a difference.
2. Check Your Mattress
Most people buy a bed and then forget about it, but the truth is that a traditional mattress will lose its ability to support you after about ten years of use. If your mattress is still in good shape, take a look at your sleeping position. If you sleep on your stomach, you’re probably contributing to back pain. The healthiest sleeping position is on your back, with a pillow placed under your head and your knees to maintain the proper spine alignment. For side sleepers, try placing a pillow between your knees to take pressure off or your spine.
3. Lift Properly
If you have to lift anything, do so using proper form. We’ve all heard ‘lift with your legs’ and ‘bend your knees’, but there are other tips to help you avoid putting additional stress on your back. If you’re picking up something heavy, keep it close to your body instead of holding it extended in front of you as you lift it.
4. Stop Smoking
If you smoke, then stop. It seems like this is a message everybody should have gotten now, for so many reasons, and back pain is another good one. When you smoke, you impact the amount of blood flow to your tissues, and this makes them more vulnerable to injury. It also reduces the body’s ability to heal itself. Stop smoking!
5. Use Ice First
If you hurt yourself, ice first and then use heat. A lot of people tend to turn to heat first, but if you ice for ten minutes at a time for the first couple of days, then use heat for the following two of three days, you’ll likely have better results.
If these steps don’t help, you would benefit from seeing our lumbar spine specialist. Our approach generally involves beginning with exercise, massage, and other conservative treatments before considering other options, including minimally invasive surgery.
Contact us today to learn more.