Back pain affects 80% of the U.S. population at some point in their lives. While most pain is minor and goes away with time, other people experience chronic back pain or back injuries.
The good news is that there are simple, easy ways to prevent many injuries. I often tell my patients that avoiding back injury or pain upfront is much more pleasant than treating it later — or trying to prevent further injuries.
What to do to prevent back injury
One of the best ways to prevent back pain or injury is to keep your back and core muscles strong.
Exercises like swimming, yoga, walking and strength training can develop and strengthen your muscles. Regular exercise may also help you maintain a healthy weight since excess weight is another risk factor for back pain.
Adjusting your posture, and your workspace if necessary, can also prevent injury. Switching between a sitting and standing desk can also help.
What to avoid doing to prevent back pain
Some back injuries can’t be avoided, as in car accidents. But many other back injuries can be prevented.
- Be careful when traveling with heavy luggage.
- Don’t twist at the waist when bending over.
Learn how to lift properly, using your legs and not your back.
- Practice safety when using a ladder or other situations where you could fall.
- Skip the high heels.
- Talk to your employer about proper back safety measures in the workplace.
- When on a long drive, stop regularly to stretch and walk around.
How do you know if your back injury is serious?
Often reducing activity for a few days, combined with ice or heat and over-the-counter pain medications, can help eliminate a sudden strain or pain in your back.
But if your back pain has persisted for three months or you have experienced a severe injury, you may have a fractured vertebrae, herniated disc, spinal stenosis or other more serious back condition. Persistent numbness or tingling can also be warning signs. It’s time to visit a physician.
As orthopedic specialists, my colleagues and I can help diagnose the source and seriousness of your pain or injury. Some injuries simply will not get better on their own and can negatively affect your life.
Many causes of back pain can be treated non-invasively with physical therapy, exercise and lifestyle changes. Some other injuries may require minimally invasive surgery.
Whatever the solution you and your doctor decide upon, you don’t need to suffer in pain for years. There really is help for your back pain.
If your back pain isn’t going away, Tanner Health System can help. Learn more about common back procedures today.