Back pain is one of the main reasons people go to a doctor and miss hours at work. In fact, back pain has a tremendous influence on business and productivity. A recent report done by the Institute of Medicine calculates the loss of productivity annually between 297.4 billion and 335.5 billion dollars. This astronomical cost is due in part to lost hours of productivity due to pain, as well as lost days of work. But that perhaps pales in comparison to the human cost of back pain.
An individual with back pain is suffering. And that suffering can be caused by a plethora of issues, including but not limited to disc issues (bulging, herniated), arthritis, and sciatica. So how do we end the bleeding of money and time, and stem the flow of ongoing pain?
Many back pain issues can be healed or improved with self-care and home treatment, and generally within 2 weeks. If this isn’t the case, or it gets worse, the first key is to find out what’s wrong.
Go see your doctor if you have any of the following back pain issues:
- New bladder or bowel issues with back pain.
- An accompanying fever with back pain
- Follows a fall, blow to your back, or other injury
- Is severe and doesn’t improve with rest
- Causes weakness, numbness or tingling down one or both legs
- Is accompanied by unexplained weight loss
- Spreads down the leg, especially if it reaches below the knee.
Risk factors for back pain:
- Inactive lifestyle
- Improper lifting
- Excess weight
- Diseases (arthritis, cancer)
- Structural issues (scoliosis)
Initial home care for back pain:
- Medications—to ease pain on the recommendation of your doctor. (Check for proper dosage and length of treatment)
- Heat or Ice—studies have actually shown heat to be slightly more effective than ice for back pain, but both can help reduce inflammation and soothe pain. Heat works by dilating blood vessels, increasing oxygen supply to the back and releasing muscle spasms. Ice reduces the flow of blood to the area, and can alleviate inflammation. It can feel uncomfortable at first, but aid with deep pain. Read more about it here.
- Exercise—a strong back is a healthy back, and as the pain from your injury eases, stretching and strengthening exercises will be a very important part of your recovery.
See below for some basic back strengthening exercises!
Depending on where you are in your recovery, you may begin adding some exercises and stretches to your repertoire. See below for some common helpful options.Get your own personalized plan!
Written by Melissa Abramovich, ACE CPT, NASM CGT, AAHFRP Medical Exercise Specialist at Elite Sports Club-River Glen
Melissa Abramovich went into Personal Training and Group Exercise instruction after successfully losing 140 pounds through healthy diet and exercise. Her desire to help others drove her forward into a career helping others to make healthier choices. She is an ACE certified personal trainer and now also a Medical Exercise Specialist (AAHFRP), helping clients with a myriad of health issues at Elite Sports Clubs. She holds a Bachelor’s degree, and many group exercise related certifications as well.