Many things can cause back pain, but most commonly, back pain is caused by straining a muscle. This refers to pain that starts suddenly after physical activity, like lifting something heavy or bending over.
What your pain symptoms might mean:
• If your pain started after you did something specific, like lifting a heavy object or twisting your back, you might have strained a muscle.
• If your pain spreads down the back of your arm or thigh, it could be a sign that a nerve is being pinched by a bulging or torn disc.
• If your pain goes all the way down both legs or both arms, it could be a sign that you have a narrowed spinal canal. This is most often due to bony growths on your spine, which is most often caused by arthritis.
Treating Back Pain:
Most people with an episode of back pain do not have a serious medical problem, and can try simple home treatments such as,
• Staying active –People with back pain recover faster if they stay active. If your pain is severe, you might need to rest for a few days and consult with your health care provider. Avoid heavy lifting or strenuous activity while you recover.
• Heat – Some people find that it helps to use a heating pad or heated wrap. Be careful to avoid high heat settings to prevent skin burns.
• Medicines – If it’s safe for you to take, first try a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug, or "NSAID." NSAIDs include ibuprofen (sample brand names: Advil, Motrin) and naproxen (sample brand name: Aleve). NSAIDS should only be used for short term pain management, no longer than 10 days.
• Acupuncture – This is when someone who knows traditional Chinese medicine inserts tiny needles into your body to block pain signals.
• Massage – A massage therapist massages the muscles and other soft tissues in your back.
• Physical therapy – A physical theorist is an exercise expert who can teach you stretches and movements to help strengthen your muscles. The goal is to relieve pain but also help you get back to your normal activities.
• Reducing stress – Some people find that it helps to try something called "mindfulness-based stress reduction." This involves going to a group program to practice relaxation and meditation.
- Preventing Back Pain:
- Avoid strenuous activity while the body is in a twisted or bent position, repeated bending, twisting and reaching, bending forward while lifting, and sitting or standing in the same position for too long.
- Implement safe lifting techniques by planning the lift, getting a good grip, lifting steadily from your legs, keeping the object close to your body, and moving your feet, not bending or twisting from your waist.
- Consider requesting a WorkSpace Ergonomic Evaluation or reviewing the OSHA Computer Workstation Self-evaluation Tool
- Stretch and Strengthen: Office Yoga for Back Pain, Gentle Yoga for your Back, Other free virtual fitness classes, Request Personal Training sessions here at Brandeis