Oh… My Aching Back!
According to Johns Hopkins Dr. Simeon Margolis, “back pain sends more people to the doctor than any complaint except upper respiratory symptoms.”
So there I was, unable to reach the phone, 30 kilometers away from my doctor, and I thought, “It doesn’t have to be this way. A backache doesn’t have to get me so low down – spread-eagled on the floor!”
It gave me little comfort to read that Apprentice star Claire Young says her “killer high heels” wrecked her spine and left her in agony.
All ye pretty women out there reading this, take heed and take the heels off. Obviously, plenty of people were being as silly as me.
So I was taken to the doctor, plus signed up for a physiotherapist and a yoga instructor. Then I pleaded with my boss for a week off. At this point I realized there were some things I could have done to avoid the debilitating pain, the doctor’s bills and the week off without pay
Types of Back Pain
Acute – If a sudden movement, sprain or strain on the muscles triggered the pain, then that pain would be acute. If you don’t continue to strain your back acute pain should disappear in a few days if you apply balm, alternate applying cold & hot packs, & maybe get a massage.
Chronic – your back has been aching for more than a few weeks or months, especially when you get to work
Causes of Back Pain
- Bladder or kidney infections
- Wearing ridiculously high heels
- Repetitive movements
Also, did you know that a severe backache could be because of indigestion? And this should surprise some, a joint problem that affects the jaws, can lead to severe backache.
A sagging bed could lead to chronic backaches, so look out for that. If you can’t buy a new one straight off, slip in something rigid (such as a piece of 5/8 inch plywood) between the mattress and the bed frame to keep the mattress from sagging in the middle.
- Get to know what you are up against: Acute or chronic?
- Questions your doctor might ask you: Most doctors find it a challenge to find the exact reason for severe chronic backaches. Help them as much as you can by noting if there is a central point that pains and if that pain radiates from there to other parts of the body. When the pain is at its worst and if it pains all the time, or only when you move, walk, bend down and so on.
- What is the cause: Rule out any spine-related problems. This might require you get an X-Ray. Apparently, my spine is crooked, so I have to extra care about how much weight I lift, how I get out of bed and several other things. The doctor suggests I turn to my side and get up. Apparently, just sitting up is out. Don’t just pop an anti-inflammatory or painkiller, just because it’s in front of you. Talk about the probable reasons with your doctor, it will be easier to cure it completely.
- Exercise: Lie on the floor, bring up your knees to your chest and put some pressure on your knees. This lengthens the spine and massages it. However, those suffering from some kinds of severe chronic aches may not be able to do this. Consult your doctor. Yoga, Tai Chi and acupressure are relatively safe methods of reducing the pain and remedying the problem. Strength training may help in building a stronger back, so choose what works best for you.
- Sit right: If you have a desk job, you are probably slouching forward all the time. Remind yourself to sit straight, stretch your back and get your own cushions or footstools, if your employer won’t get you a better chair.
- Heat and cold: If the pain is acute, ice may be the best remedy. It reduces any swelling and the relief is greater if you massage the sore spot with the ice. Heat works best after you have used an ice bag for two days at least. Moist heat is recommended, i.e., wring a towel in warm water and keep it on your back.
Control your thoughts
Some people are more prone to suffering from chronic pain than others. This is really important to understand because it offers a plausible explanation for the fact that some people do not stick to their medicine, give up on exercise programs that can make them feel better, or continue with a lifestyle that makes the pain worse. Source: Cleveland Clinic
Some of these characteristics are:
- A person who strongly feels responsible towards others and goes to any lengths to discharge their duties
- A uncontrollable urge to do whatever it takes to get the job done, often sacrificing one’s own needs to achieve it
- Not being easy on oneself or others
- Holding very strong beliefs
- Using pain as a way to seek attention or to buy time
Your spine is the main message center for your body. All the muscles and nerves associated with it are extremely important. So any pain affects the proper functioning of your body and should be tackled immediately.
Photo credit: Valerie Everett