Because of the sedentary office lifestyle that so many of us live, back pain has become a common occurrence. Whether people experience acute pain or a chronic condition, many people have accepted this as part of their life.
And, this rarely ends at the spine. The spine is connected to the rest of the body. Therefore, it’s common for pain in the spine to move elsewhere, affecting other areas. In this post, we’ll discuss some of the causes of acute and chronic back pain, back pain treatments, and recommended exercises.
Cause #1: Text Neck
Some say that sitting’s the new smoking. However, when it comes to neck pain, texting is the real culprit. Like people in other countries, Americans today tend to stare at their phones for hours on end.
Unfortunately, this habit has serious consequences for your body’s wellness. By craning your neck down to look at your phone, you’re causing the muscles, tendons and ligaments strain.
In addition to causing pain in the general neck area, text neck also creates other issues. Consistently looking at the phone may lead to severe pain and/or spasms in the back and shoulders. If this action pinches a cervical nerve, then pain may radiate into other parts of the body, like the arms and hands.
This posture can also cause the spine to undergo other, more arthritic adjustments. The same phenomenon occurs when office employees look at their monitors in an unhealthy manner.
Back Pain Treatment
How to Prevent Text Neck
- Don’t Bend Your Neck
Rather than bending your neck to meet your phone, try raising your phone instead. Moving it to eye level is a more natural position for you, and will minimize the risk of neck pain. Regardless of whether you are looking at your phone, or bending your neck for another reason, this is a great, passive back pain treatment.
- Stand Straight
Both when you’re looking at your phone and while you’re carrying out your day, stand straight. When your body is hunched, your muscles are tightening, setting the stage for greater discomfort. Changing positions is helpful as well.
- Take Breaks Frequently
Looking at your phone constantly can have a terrible effect on your spine, and your neck. Sitting with your head looking on straight, rather than positioned downward, is the perfect way to prevent this discomfort. Additionally, spending too much time on the phone– or any screen– is unhealthy for your sleeping patterns.
- Stretch Often
Stretching throughout the day can work wonders for easing muscle pain, both in your neck and back, and around the body.
As younger people continue to use cell phones and other devices more and more, text neck will continue to be an issue. Office employees should ensure that their work environment is ergonomic, and others should implement these lifestyle tips. This is another great back pain treatment that is applicable to everyone.
Cause #2: Sciatica
As we mentioned before, the consequences of poor spine health do not end in the back. Often, severe symptoms of back pain can lead to radiation of this back pain to other parts of the body. This is extremely common in the legs.
Sciatica is a condition caused by tightness in the lower regions of the spine. These herniated discs irritate the the sciatic nerve. Other spine conditions can also cause sciatica, including degenerative disc disease, lumbar spinal stenosis, isthmic spondylolisthesis, and more.
The symptoms of sciatica depend greatly on the intensity of the injury, and pre-existing conditions. Common symptoms include, but are not limited to:
- Consistent pain in one buttock or leg (usually one, rather than both)
- A sharp pain that makes walking uncomfortable
- Numb/weak feeling in the legs, feet and/or toes
- Tingling/burning feeling in the legs
- Greater discomfort/pain while sitting than standing
Generally, these symptoms can run the gamut from minor discomfort at odd intervals to schedule-altering pain.
Back Pain Treatment
How to Treat Sciatica
To prevent potential negative side effects, most professionals recommend pursuing a non-surgical back pain treatment route. The goal of sciatica treatment is to provide pain relief, while also repairing the root of the pain in the spine.
- Heat/Ice Therapy: While more intense treatments can be administered by a professional, this treatment can also be self-administered. Heat and ice packs can work wonders in alleviating pain, especially during the beginning phases of the condition.
- Chiropractic Adjustment: The main goal of treatment is to eliminate the source of the pain. Therefore, chiropractic adjustments are key. These sessions can improve the alignment of the lumbar discs. Thus, you restore the spine’s functionality. As a back pain treatment, chiropractic care is indispensable.
- Physical Therapy: While the above two treatments are instrumental in healing the spine, physical therapy is also a critical phase of the back pain treatment process. This process generally involves three components:
- Strength-building exercises: Back exercises that strengthen the core by building support for muscles, ligaments and tendons. These build strength in the lower back, the stomach, the buttocks and the hips. Be sure to always cool down sufficiently after any workout.
- Stretching exercises: To restore mobility and a full range of motion, many physical therapists recommend stretching exercises.
- Aerobic exercises: Walking, jogging, cardio and/or swimming aids greatly in catalyzing fluid exchange.
Don’t Hesitate to Contact A Doctor!
If you are experiencing these symptoms, then you should contact a doctor immediately. Before issuing any treatment, the doctor must first diagnose the issue. Contact us for assistance in diagnosing your condition, and recommending a back pain treatment.
3 Common Back Pain Treatment Exercises
Contrary to popular belief, resting is not necessarily always the answer to pain relief. Exercising appropriately is instrumental to any back pain treatment program. But, the wrong exercises can cause your progress to regress, or complicate other issues.
Depending on your injury and pre-existing fitness levels, your tolerance for back pain exercises may vary. Before performing any of these exercises, be sure to consult with a physical therapist. Exercising offers plenty of mental health benefits, too.
1. Beginner Exercises for Back Pain Relief
- Wall Squats: Leaning against a wall with your back held up straight, position your feet 12 inches in front of your body.While keeping your core muscles tight and firm, slowly bend both knees to a 45 degree angle, and hold for five seconds. Then, slowly return to your upright position. Repeat this ten times.
- Straight Leg Raises: With one leg straight and one knee bent, lie on your back. Keeping your core muscles tight and your back stable, slowly lift your legs 6-12 inches up, holding this position for about 5 seconds. Then, slowly lower it. Repeat this process 10 times.
2. Intermediate Exercises for Back Pain Relief
- Straight Knee to Chest Stretches: With both knees bent, lie on your back. Hold your thigh behind the knee, bringing one knee up to the chest. Hold this position for 20 seconds, then return to a comfortable position. Do this five times for each side of the body.
- Straight Leg Raises: With your legs bent, lie on your back. Then, hold one thigh behind the knee, and slowly straighten your knee until your thigh feels stretched. Hold this position for 20 seconds, and then return to a comfortable position. Do this five times for each side of the body.
3. Advanced Exercises for Back Pain Relief
- Hip Flexor Stretch: On the edge of a bed, lie on your back, with your knees to your chest. Keeping the knee bent, slowly lower one of your legs down, until you feel a stretching sensation in the hips/thighs. Hold this position for 20 seconds, then return to a comfortable position. Do this five times for each side of the body.
- Piriformis Stretch: With both knees bent, lie on your back, with one leg crossed atop the other. Then, pull the opposite knee over to your chest, until you feel a stretching sensation in the buttocks and the hip. Hold this position for 20 seconds, then return to a comfortable position. Do this five times for each side of the body.
Regardless of how often you exercise, be sure to drink plenty of water and avoid dehydration.
Don’t Suffer Needlessly
As back pain continues to hinder the lifestyle of people of all adult ages, it’s important to be proactive. At Lake Shore Physical Therapy, our staff is enthusiastic about helping people overcome these obstacles through individualized back pain treatments. We can guide you to once again adopt a peaceful, pain-free lifestyle.