Nearly two-thirds of all Americans experience back pain at some point in their life (1). I'm sure you have probably experienced that grueling pain and it can definitely put a toll on your day-to-day routine.
Everyone's experience with back pain is a little different and unique to them. Do you feel sharp, stabbing pain that stops you in your tracks? Does it ever feel like your legs are on fire or tingling? Maybe it feels like a dull, nagging pain that does not want to let up?
If you can relate to one of the descriptions above, you are probably wondering, what can I do about it?
Well, there is some good news. Back pain, more often than not, resolves itself with very little effort on your part. Read on to learn more about the 5 secrets to living your life pain-free.
The best approach to resolving your back pain is simply moving. It is as simple as continuing your day to day activities, going for a brisk walk, and taking breaks during your work day to get up and move around, ideally every hour. After all, the saying goes, "Motion is Lotion!"
2. Relax the Back
Taking a break can be a necessary evil. While it's important to keep moving as mentioned above, taking a break from activities that worsen your pain can get you headed in the right direction. This could mean performing exercises within gentler ranges, decreasing your weight with heavy lifting, or correcting your form. Seeing a Physical Therapist can help you problem solve these areas and devise an exercise plan tailored to your individual needs.
Stress takes a toll on the body physically and mentally. Have you ever noticed that the busier your life gets and the more deadlines you have to meet, the more you feel your back pain? This isn't coincidence. Research shows us that higher stress levels lead to increased cortisol. Higher cortisol increases the level of pain that we feel. (Higher cortisol levels also can lead to a higher likelihood of chronic pain - which is what we want to avoid!)
Taking time out of your day to relax, read a book, chat with a friend, or even just breathe can be a game changer.
4. Learn about your Pain
The pain science world can be confusing, let alone the number of resources out there specifically for back pain! On the other hand, learning about your pain can help you resolve it.
Your body has mechanisms to adapt and alert you when something may be off. Those mechanisms come from your central nervous system. When you have pain over a long period of time, your nervous system gets sensitized which leads to even more pain and frustration. When this happens, it's important to recognize this "high alert" state and work to break out of the vicious cycle. If you have read secrets 1-3, you have already learned ways on how to break out of this pain cycle!
5. See a Physical Therapist
As we have said, back pain typically resolves on its own but sometimes the intervention of a medical professional is warranted. If you have tried the above tips, have concerns, feel like something bigger is going on, or don't want to waste any more of your time in pain, see a Physical Therapist right away!
Seeing a Physical Therapist first can also save you money, studies have shown up to 72% in medical costs! (This includes the cost of imaging such as MRI's and x-rays which can be unnecessary at times - stay tuned for our upcoming blog post on this topic). --> Blog post now available here.
A Physical Therapist will do a thorough assessment of your signs and symptoms and use critical thinking about the findings to determine if something more serious is going on. Back pain is variable and influenced by many things and we are here to help guide you along the path to recovery.
Interested in booking an appointment in downtown Milwaukee? Request one here.
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