Chronic pain is one of the most common reasons that adults will have restricted daily activity and seek medical care in the United States. If you have chronic back pain, you are not alone and about 20% of people who have back pain will develop chronic back pain. Chronic Back pain can be defined as having back pain that lasts 12 weeks or longer.
If you experience the following symptoms for 12 weeks or longer, there is a good chance that you have chronic back pain.
- Pain with bending, standing, walking and/or lifting
- Stabbing or shooting pains
- Radiating pain down your leg
- Muscle aches
Chronic back pain can develop from your muscles or ligaments being strained, having a ruptured or bulging disk, osteoporosis, an irregular skeleton and arthritis. Although anyone can have back pain, there are also known risk factors. These include, smoking, improper lifting, being overweight, lack of exercise, diseases, like arthritis, mental health conditions and age.
To help prevent back pain it’s beneficial to exercise regularly, maintain a healthy weight, stop smoking, build flexibility and strengthen your muscles. It is also helpful to maintain proper posture when you are standing, sitting and lifting.
Here are some tips to help avoid having surgery for lower back pain.
Having a poor posture can worsen back pain. Sitting for long periods of time can take a toll on your back. Be sure you sit up straight, relax your shoulders, keep your feet flat on the floor and take breaks from sitting to get up and walk.
Calcium and Vitamin D
Calcium and Vitamin D are key to protecting our bones and allowing our muscles to contract. You can ensure that you are including these with diet, sunlight and supplements. Foods that are rich in calcium include cheese, yogurt, milk, canned salmon, beans and dark leafy greens. Some of the same foods are also high in vitamin D, like salmon and milk (with Vitamin D). Other foods high in Vitamin D are mushrooms, canned tuna, shrimp, and egg yolks.
Depending on your capabilities, including activities that help build your muscles will decrease your chances of chronic back pain. You may include things like swimming, yoga, tai chi or walking to help strengthen your muscles and relieve back pain.
The position you sleep can contribute to your back pain. It’s best to sleep on your side with a pillow between your knees when you experience back pain to take strain off your back. If sleeping on your side is not an option, sleep on your back with a pillow under your knees. Sleeping on your stomach is the worst position for your back and neck.
Ice or Heat
Using ice on a sore back will help reduce the inflammation. Doing this for 20 minutes several times a day while protecting your skin with an ice pack or thin towel may help reduce pain. After a few days, the inflammation will reduce and then you should switch to heat using a warm pack, heating pad or taking a warm bath to help relax the muscles.
One of the newer approaches to reduce the chance of having to have surgery for lower back pain is regenerative therapy. Using your own cells is a preventative way to help reduce inflammation which may be causing your chronic back pain. It’s also less invasive than surgery with little down time. Cellular Therapy has the ability to help your own body repair an area that has been damaged or injured.
In the Greater Seattle area, Seattle Regenerative Medicine Center offers FREE consultations for those who are struggling with chronic back pain. You can discuss your options and see if a Regenerative Therapy, like Stem Cell or PRP Therapy would be right for you. Please contact SRMC at 425-454-0406 to book your free consultation for Cellular Therapy in Seattle.
By Dr. Lucy Hostetter