What is Back Pain?Back pain is a common health issue in adults all over the world. Our back is supported by a spinal column made up of 33 bones that are cushioned with cartilage, ligaments, muscles and tendons. Long sitting hours at work, sprains due to strenuous exercise, incorrect sitting posture and sudden bends can injure these supporting structures resulting in bruising of bones and back pain. Back pains can range from mild to severe, depending on the cause.
Back pain can be a symptom of an underlying disease such as a herniated disc, spondylitis or broken vertebrae.
What Causes Back Pain?
There can be several causes of back pain:
Injury: Slipped disc and fracture in bones are the most common injuries resulting in back pain. Wrong posture while lifting heavy articles, sudden hit or an accident may cause fractured bones and cartilages that lead to back pain. Sometimes a muscle pull or over bending can also result in muscle injury and thus causes back pain.
Over Straining of Back Muscles: Over straining of back muscles can be due to strenuous exercise. Long sitting hours can also put a strain on back causing back pain. Improper sitting positions, uncomfortable chairs and awkward body movements can strain cartilages and muscles resulting in discomfort.
Bone Degenerative Conditions: Certain bone degenerative diseases like osteoporosis affect the spine and can be an underlying cause for chronic back pain. Such back pains might not be localized, but are progressive in nature and can affect shoulders, hips, legs and neck. These diseases make bones weak and vulnerable, and cause further damage.
Arthritis: Spinal osteoarthritis causes stiffness. It can also result in numbness of legs and shoulders. Osteoarthritis can lead to a condition called spinal stenosis in which the space around the spine is reduced.
Skeletal Irregularities: Abnormal curvature of the spine due to sudden injury may result in skeletal irregularities of spinal vertebrae. Scoliosis is a condition in which the spine gets curved to the side and causes back pain.
Home Remedies for Back Pain:
Core Strengthening Exercises: Exercising to the core is one of the best pain-relieving techniques. Back and abdominal exercises that help strengthen your muscles and bones are helpful to manage pain caused due to sprains and sudden jerks. Regular exercises and yoga reduce the risk of getting muscle spasms and injuries. If facing a problem of acute back pain, visiting a therapist for physical therapy and treatment can improve the condition. A physiotherapist can teach you proper exercises along with giving heat and electrical stimulation treatments to reduce backache.
Correct Ergonomics: Ergonomics refers to how best your workplace can be designed for proper comfort, safety and productivity. A workstation must be comfortable sitting with desk, easy to reach and with proper space to move around. Incorrect sitting posture is one of the main reasons for back pain. Slumping around the desk and incorrect feet placing can result in upper back, shoulder and neck pain. Choose a comfortable chair supporting your lower back and make sure to firmly place your feet on the floor with knees slightly higher than your hips.
Careful Lifting: Following the correct method while lifting and handling heavy objects is very important. Incorrect bending and lifting heavy articles can cause mild to severe damage to your backbone, resulting in slipped disk or a muscle strain. One must always bend knees first with the back straight and then go for lifting the load. Bending at the hips can be accidental and cause injury.
Body Weight Management: Obesity can be a cause of chronic back pain. Increased body weight puts excess pressure on the back, making it weak and painful. Regular exercise and a balanced diet help maintain a healthy body weight that aids reducing back pain.
Ice Packs: Ice packs are a handy therapy in managing back pain. If you are facing back pain due to an injury, putting an ice pack can bring instant relief. It is best to provide ice therapy within 24-48 hours of injury to reduce inflammation and relax muscles. Applying ice packs over the injured area at regular intervals helps reduce swelling and lessens pain.
Relax Often: One must always relax and roam around between working hours. Sitting or standing in the same positions for a long time can put a strain on your back leading to back and shoulder pain. Stretching your hands, moving around the office space, getting along with co-workers and relaxing often help in reducing the risk of getting a pressed sciatic nerve or frozen shoulder. Don’t be stressed, and be relaxed to avoid pain to intensify.
Sleep Properly: Proper rest and sleep are necessary to prevent back pain. One must take rest and lie properly on a hard mattress that allows your back to remain straight. A soft cushioning mattress could worsen the condition as they do not maintain a straight posture.
Boost Calcium Intake: Osteoporosis and arthritis are some of the worst degenerating diseases. They make bones and muscles weak and accident-prone. Osteoporosis is caused due to low bone density. Boosting calcium and vitamin D intake in your diet helps improve these conditions lowering the symptoms. Include calcium-rich foods such as dairy products, lean meat, fatty fish, green leafy veggies and fruits to improve calcium levels in the body. Always remember that calcium, vitamin D and other nutrients are best obtained through your diet, so as far as possible, reduce your dependency on tablets.
Healthy Diet: A diet loaded with essential nutrients replenishes deficient minerals that in turn, help reduce back pain. Adhere to a diet rich in proteins, omega 3 fatty acids, phosphorus and fibers. These nutrients prevent progression of pain and help in conditions such as arthritis and osteoporosis. Food supplements to fulfill deficient nutrients in the body can also be taken. Bromelain which is derived from pineapple, is another helpful enzyme in reducing swelling and pain.
Quit Smoking: Back pain could get worse with smoking. Smoking affects healthy blood circulation and interferes with the healing processes. Smoking worsens bone degeneration making bones more weak and fragile. Quit smoking at the earliest if you experience back pain.
Rubs and Oils: Herbal oils such as peppermint oil, garlic mixed with coconut or sesame oil, cypress oil and Wintertree oil are beneficial in managing back pain. They help reduce inflammation and soothe back muscles providing lubrication to bones and cartilages. Rubs available in the market contain capsaicin, a heat-producing substance found in peppers. It modifies the neural transmission of pain from the affected part to the brain and provides relief.
These do-at-home remedies are effective and helpful in managing moderate back pain. However, if you experience severe, uncontrollable pain, visit a doctor or a therapist at the earliest.