Back pain affects millions of people every year. In fact, a staggering 8 out of 10 people have or will experience back pain at some point.
Causes of Back Pain
The common causes of back pain include injury from improper lifting technique, accidents, or sports. Sometimes, there isn't a known trigger, but back pain may occur suddenly following a certain movement, or it may slowly develop over a period of time.
The following conditions can increase a person's risk of developing back pain:
- Chronic poor posture or bad ergonomics at a desk job
- Sedentary lifestyle
Back pain may be the result of muscle strain or sprain, disk herniation, or spinal arthritis, among other things.
Ways to Avoid Back Pain
If possible, the best way to deal with back pain is to avoid developing it in the first place. Consider good back health in everything you do throughout the day. Here are some general tips:
- Work on your posture. Make sure that your workspace is as ergonomic as possible if you have a desk job. If you do lifting, use proper techniques to spare your back.
- Don't be sedentary. Move as much as you can throughout the day. Being sedentary can wreak havoc on many aspects of your health and well-being, including the strength of your back.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Check with your doctor to determine your ideal body weight and how to safely achieve and maintain it. Obesity is a risk factor for developing back and sciatic problems.
- Fight osteoporosis. Ask your doctor how you can best avoid developing osteoporosis. This will vary depending on your age and sex.
- Manage your stress. There is a growing body of evidence pointing toward the role of emotional health in the development of back pain. Developing effective stress-relieving strategies can help you avoid debilitating back and sciatic issues.
How to Treat Back Pain and Sciatica
If you have back pain or symptoms of sciatica, including numbness or pain in your legs, visit your doctor immediately. He or she may recommend certain tests to diagnose the problem. From there, the doctor will counsel you on the treatment methods that are best for you. These may include physical therapy, pain medication, acupuncture, massage, exercises, mind-body treatment, and surgery. Here are some things to keep in mind when you are deciding on a course of back pain treatment with your doctor:
- Treatment of back pain with "conventional" methods such as injections, medications, and surgery carries a high rate of failure.
- Recommendations for the treatment of back pain are changing. In fact, studies are showing that mind-body treatments are more effective for pain relief and control of back pain than conventional treatments (Daniel C. Cherkin & al, 2016). Learn more here: "Using Mindfulness to Treat Chronic Back Pain." You can also learn more in Dr. John Sarno's book: Healing Back Pain.
- Keep in mind that many pain medications can be addictive. Be sure to speak frankly with your doctor about any concerns you may have before starting on medications.
- Daniel C. Cherkin, K. J., & al, e. (2016, March 22). Effect of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction vs Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or Usual Care on Back Pain and Functional Limitations in Adults With Chronic Low Back Pain. Retrieved from JAMA: DOI: 10.1001/jama.2016.2323