Low Back Pain (cont.)
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Living With Low Back Pain
Almost everyone has low back pain at some time. The good news is that most low back pain will go away in a few days or weeks with some basic self-care. This includes first aid, self-massage and using heat or ice.
Basic self-care can also help prevent back problems from coming back.
Ease back into your daily activities
Some people are afraid that doing too much may make their pain worse. In the past, people stayed in bed, thinking this would help their backs. Now experts think that, in most cases, getting back to your normal activities is good for your back, as long as you avoid things that make your pain worse.
Avoid or change activities that cause pain
Pay attention to your body mechanics and posture
Body mechanics are the way you use your body. Posture is the way you sit or stand.
Stretch and strengthen your back
When you no longer have acute pain, you may be ready for gentle strengthening exercises for your stomach, back, and legs, and perhaps for some stretching exercises. Exercise may not only help decrease low back pain but also may help you recover faster, prevent reinjury to your back, and reduce the risk of disability from back pain.
Walking is the simplest and perhaps the best exercise for the low back. Your doctor or a physical therapist can recommend more specific exercises to help your back muscles get stronger. These may include a series of simple exercises called core stabilization. The muscles of your trunk, or core, support your spine. Strengthening these muscles can improve your posture, keep your body in better balance, and decrease your chance of injury.
Take care of stress
Stress and low back pain can create a vicious circle. You have back pain, and you begin to worry about it. This causes stress, and your back muscles begin to tense. Tense muscles make your back pain worse, and you worry more ... which makes your back worse ... and so on.
There are lots of ways to teach yourself to relax.
Manage your weight
Extra body weight, especially around the waist, may put strain on your back.
If you want to get to a healthy weight and stay there, lifestyle changes will work better than dieting.
Here are the three steps to reaching a healthy weight:
People who smoke take longer to heal—from any injury, not just back pain. If you stop smoking, you may feel better sooner.
People who smoke are also much more likely to have back pain than people who don't smoke. This is because the nicotine and other toxins from smoking can keep spinal discs from getting all the nutrients they need from the blood, making disc injury more likely. These discs cushion the bones in your spine. An injured disc can cause low back pain.
Smoking also increases your risk of bone loss (osteoporosis).
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