Chronic Back Pain

July 4,2014

Pain is never pleasant. If it gets in your back to persist or recur, it may really give you bad days and your productivity can decline severely. Lower back pain could be due to injury, repetitive stress (posture or occupational hazard), metabolic changes, pregnancy, aging etc. The pain may be mild to severe and lasting for hours to days or could be recurring. Recurrent pain may be debilitating the routine and is considered chronic. There may be pain, soreness, inflammation and stiffness.
  • RSI and backache-Repetitive Stress due to occupational hazards (heavy weight lifting jobs) or the wrong postures may cause backache. 
  • Women and backache-Women are more prone to backaches because of their anatomy and physiology. Some women also face backaches when menstruating or due to the other uterine problems. 
  • Pregnancy and backache-Back pain during pregnancy is common due to stress on spinal muscles with the increasing pressure on abdomen. It may start early in pregnancy and last till the delivery. Sometimes backache persists even after the delivery.
  • Weight gain and backache-Increase in weight leads to backache. The spine has to support the entire upper part of the body weight. Big bellies, inflatulence and constipation tend to increase backache. This can be modified through diet correction and exercise. 
  • Backache and footwear-Wrong footwear can lead to backaches. Walking or standing on high heels, pencil heels or the footwear could spoil the spine alignment can lead to backaches.
  • Backache and mattress- If the mattress is not a good support for the spine and if it is too soft or too hard, it may put additional pressure on the spinal muscles.
  • Backache and chairs-With the rise of computer based jobs; there is rise in the sedentary profiles and increasing back pains. It is due to keeping same posture for long hours, restricted movement and also a big cause attributed to the chairs which may be not very supportive for the back muscles and rather put additional burden.

Preventive care for backache

  • Treating abdomen as your second spine- We have tendency to overburden our spinal muscles and go easy with our bellies. As we sit, walk, sleep, stand, we always need spinal support. With our postures, weight etc. we inadvertently start abusing our spinal muscles. If we start taking our abdomen as the second spine, we shall be able to divide the weight and share the load with abdominal muscles. For this strengthening the abdominal muscles through exercise, improving postures while sitting, standing, walking becomes important
  • Improving postures- Avoid continuous posture of sitting, standing etc.. Taking rest breaks is important.
  • Stretch exercises- Wherever, at work or at home stretch exercises that take away pressure from spinal muscles is important. Bending forward while sitting on chair, stretching backward and bending and twisting sideways while standing upright, are some small exercises to unburden pressure on spine.
  • Right Mattress- Memory-foam mattresses are firm mattresses made from visco-elastic material are designed to suit the body according to its shape. These are new in the market and gaining popularity for its advantage of supporting neck and spine. On the other hand the age old coir foam mattresses are preferred choice for their firmness and eco-friendliness which is good for overall health as well as the environment.
  • Sleeping Position- Sleeping in curled position helps the spinal muscles relax. It opens up the space between the vertebra and the facets of the spine joints.
  • Right footwear- Experts suggest wearing heels no more than 2 inches and wearing orthopedic footwear that give more comfort to back. For long walks, shopping prefer sneakers, or footwear with less heel and good rubbery soles.
  • Right chairs- It is important to observe posture and sit on ergonomically designed chairs which have straight back and cushioned seats. It is also better to have a footrest which will reduce the pressure on the spinal muscles.
  • Lifestyle modification based on Biofeedback- Identify what you did caused strain and pain in your back. It could be cold, lack of sleep, sleeping for long hours, mental stress, physical exhaustion, erratic or unhealthy diet leading to bloating or constipation, postures that aggravate inflammation and pain, etc. Try to modify those habits by listening to your body.
  • Bend at the knees and not the waist- If it is to pick anything form the ground, tie shoe laces, look into the closets, dishwasher or anything such; for people prone to backaches the key advise is to bend at the knees and not the waist. Especially when the back is stiff.
  • Know your limits- avoid lifting heavy weights, toiling, exercising beyond limits etc

Author:Dr. Anju Dave

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