A little back pain here or there is normal – it’s part of the joys of aging. Maybe you slept wrong, picked something up wrong, or moved in a certain way. Before you run to see a back pain specialist, determine whether your back pain is chronic or acute. If it’s acute, meaning it is short-term and comes and goes, you may just have to take it easy for a couple days. Acute back pain is any stiffness, aching, or decreased movement in your back that lasts from a few hours to days to a week or two. If you want to prevent acute back pain or alleviate some of the pain you are experiencing, here are some helpful tips:
- Pick things up with caution – lifting heavy objects with your legs rather than your back is common knowledge, but far too many people still lift incorrectly. Get behind the object, get into a squatted position with your back straight, and lift by straightening your knees. If it any point you feel your back bend forward or backward, stop and focus on bending the knees.
- Stretch out your back – stretching your back two to three times a week goes a long way when it comes to preventing back pain. Some common exercises include hugging your knee to your chest, lying down and placing your leg to the opposite side of your body, and sitting in child’s pose. If you don’t want to do exercises at home, you can always go to a light yoga class or stretching class at the gym.
- Keep a healthy weight – any extra weight will exacerbate existing back pain or add more strain on your back. Try to eat a healthy diet filled with vegetables, fruits, and proteins and cut down on sugars and fats. To exercise, go to the gym three to five times a week to do cardio or light weight lifting, or if you don’t want to go to the gym, walk around your street several times a week or create a home workout plan.
- Focus on your posture – poor posture does a lot of damage to your back, shoulders, and neck. Move your computer close, roughly an arm’s length away, so you aren’t slouching forward to see it. You should always be sitting with your back against the chair. If you need help keeping your shoulders back, purchase a posture corrector and wear it an hour or two a day to help retrain your muscles.
While these tips are helpful, they are NOT cures for back pain. They are tactics to be used to reduce acute back pain only.
When to See a Back Pain Specialist
As we mentioned, minor back pain that lasts a few days shouldn’t be a cause for alarm. However, chronic, long-term back pain is often a sign of something more serious. Chronic back pain lasts 12 or more weeks and is usually the results of some damage, trauma, or structural problems in the back. Sometimes you will experience back pain following an injury and be able to pinpoint the cause. Other times, chronic pain happens without any idea why. Either way, if you experience back pain with or without tingling or numbness for more than three months, you need to see a back pain specialist to determine what is causing the pain, how to manage the pain, and how to get you back to feeling your best.
If you have been experiencing chronic back pain for more than 12 weeks, it is time to make an appointment with a specialist. Coastal Spine is comprised of a team of back pain specialists in New Jersey who can determine the cause of your back pain and create a customized plan to treat it. Make an appointment on our website or by calling (856) 222-4444.