There is hardly anyone who has not suffered from back pain. You may be among the eight out of ten people affected by back pain. Based on data from the American Chiropractic Association, at any given time, there is an estimated 31 million Americans who experience low-back pain. Back pain is a health complaint with one of the highest occurrences and one of the top reasons for absence from work. Aside from the huge negative financial impact it has because of American workers’ loss of productivity, it also accounts for at least $50 billion in annual spending on back pain treatments.
Causes of Back Pain
Injuries from accidents, work and sports are the most obvious causes for back pain. Other factors can contribute significantly to back pain and they include:
- Improper posture
- Being obese or overweight
- Poor physical condition from inactivity
- Kidney stones and other internal diseases, infections and blood clots
- Osteoporosis, a bone loss condition
- Psychological or emotional stress
Tips to Prevent Low Back Pain and Back Problems
Health care professionals recommend these simple pointers to prevent back problems and back pain:
- Before any activity requiring strenuous physical exertion, do stretching.
- Always stand and sit up erect. Do not slouch.
- Use chairs or seats with good back support, especially in the lumbar area, when sitting.
- Do not sit continuously for long periods of time. Take periodic breaks to stand and walk around to stretch muscles and relieve tension.
- Avoid bending over to pick up or reach for objects.
- When lifting, use your legs, not your back, to carry the load. Keep your back straight.
- Wear low-heeled and comfortable shoes.
- Control your weight to an ideal level.
- Do not smoke. Smoking reduces the flow of blood to the lower spine and leads to spinal disc degeneration.
- Keep your spine and bones strong by taking enough Vitamin D.
Other Ways to Prevent Low Back Pain
Aside from following these simple steps, which are mostly self-care and personal lifestyle changes, experts also suggest the following therapy methods for low back pain treatment and prevention:
- Chiropractic Care. Chiropractic is on top of the list. It is far safer, more cost efficient and more effective natural therapy for low back pain than medical treatments. Chiropractic emphasizes the body’s innate healing capability when it is free from spinal abnormalities. Both the American College of Physicians and American Pain Society concluded in a paper published in 2007 that spinal adjustment is the only active treatment recommendation for acute low back pain in patients whose conditions do not improve after other self-care options have been availed.
- Neuro-Structural Integration Technique (NST). It is a non-invasive and gentle technique that stimulates the body’s reflexes. In this process, NST “resets” the body so it can heal itself. The results have been reported to be profound and lasting and observed as early as after the second and third sessions.
- Mind-body techniques. Examples of this method used in treating severe low back pain are Emotional Freedom Technique/Meridian Tapping Technique (EFT/MTT). They are mostly used by psychiatric and psychology professionals who maintain that pain can have psychological or emotional origin. They are reported to have a higher than 80% success rate. Practitioners of these types of treatment techniques believe that underlying emotional issues as well as unresolved trauma can greatly influence one’s physical health, especially as it relates to pain.
- Massage therapy. The iliopsoas, muscles that connect the lumbar region to the femur, can shorten by sitting for extended periods of time. A massage therapist can apply deep but gentle massage technique to the pulled iliopsoas to release it, and the pain that goes with it. Mild stretching can also be done to counteract the shortening action of the iliopsoas.
- Intensive interdisciplinary rehabilitation. For chronic low back pain, experts recommend the application of any combination of exercise therapy, massage therapy, acupuncture, spinal manipulation, yoga, progressive relaxation and cognitive-behavioral therapy.
With so many different effective and safe options to treat low back pain, there is little or no reason at all to turn to medications or surgery that do little to address the underlying causes of back pain and might bring additional health issues with their use.