Back pain is one of the most common ailments in the United States, affecting about 80% of adults during their lifetime. Common causes of back pain include lack of physical fitness, muscle strain, and disc degeneration. Here are some productive ways to cope when your back isn’t feeling its greatest:
1. Visit your Doctor
First, seek medical attention. Your doctor will try to identify the underlying cause of your back pain and inform your course of treatment. Some back conditions are temporary, while others are chronic. Some may have a definitive cause, while others seem more difficult to determine.
2. Exercise Within your Limits
Maintaining strength in your ‘core’– your back, abdominal, and thigh muscles– will create a sturdy foundation to support your back. A physical therapist can help create a realistic exercise routine to rebuild your strength. As you exercise, listen to your body’s needs. You may need to take breaks or ease into movements.
3. Focus on your Abilities
Suffering from a new illness or injury can be discouraging. You may have to make significant changes to your daily lifestyle. In the face of these challenges, it’s very important to focus on what you can do– not what you can’t. You may find yourself motivated to brush the dust off an old hobby, or set some exciting new goals for yourself!
4. Seek Workplace Accommodations
You may be wondering how to make it through the work day like you used to. Don’t be afraid to ask your employer for reasonable accommodations. You may benefit from taking breaks to stretch, walk, or lay down. An ergonomic desk chair may offer your spine more support. Perhaps you could adjust your hours or try a new position within your company. The Job Accommodation Network (JAN) is a wonderful, free resource for both employees and employers seeking creative ways to work with individual health needs.
5. Spend Time in Water
Water provides buoyancy– meaning gravity effects you less when you’re submerged in water. Spending time in water can provide a great deal of relief for people who suffer from painful orthopaedic conditions. It can also allow for low-impact exercise like water aerobics or aquatic therapy.
6. Use Therapeutic Devices
You may find therapeutic tools beneficial temporarily, on an as-needed basis, or long-term. Back braces can give support to the torso and relieve muscle ache. Heating pads can soothe pain. Therapy bands assist with stretching. Shoes lifts can accommodate leg-length discrepancy. There are many self-massaging devices including cylindrical ‘rollers’ and even acupressure yoga mats!
Try not to feel discouraged by your limitations. Instead, stay focused on the many wonderful things you can do!