Chronic back pain can severely affect your life – from limiting mobility to damaging your mood and in some cases causing depression.
Causes of back pain
There are many potential causes of back pain, including:
- An accident
- A slipped or herniated disc
- Pulled muscles
- Nerve damage
- Bad posture
- Disc degeneration
- Degenerative arthritis
There are many more, and you could even be suffering from a combination of a few. Pain can appear anywhere on your back, from the bottom of your neck to the base of your spine.
How to deal with chronic back pain
If the problem is persistent and painful, then you should have visited your doctor. They will normally prescribe painkillers or, in more extreme conditions, injection of a steroid or anaesthetic. But there are a number of alternatives to consider that should help relieve some of the discomfort.
While rest used to be recommended, doctors now say gentle exercise is preferable. If the pain is strong, start slowly with some short walks and build from there. Swimming is a great option as it takes some of the pressure off the muscles in your back. For anything more arduous, consult a professional first.
There are a number of therapy options available. These include using hot and cold packs, which help to keep the muscles loose. Or you could use a TENS unit. Users apply electrodes and ‘shock’ the muscles, which can stop them from spasming.
Other alternatives include ultrasound, which helps muscles heal faster, or low-level laser therapy, which reduces swelling in the affected area.
3. Emotional well-being
Stress can cause tension, which only makes muscular problems worse. Being relaxed mentally helps you to relax physically. In fact, there is research to suggest that happier people heal faster than those susceptible to bad moods.
If other treatments fail to work, you might find talking to a counsellor helps. Cognitive behavioural therapy can help you manage the pain by changing how you think about the pain.
Acupuncture has long shifted from the realm of mystical treatment to the corridors of the UK’s hospitals. And it has proven efficacy in tackling lower back pain. The treatment should be sustained over a period of at least 12 weeks for it to be effective.
It’s irritating when people who don’t have back pain tell you that all you need to do is improve you posture. But it can help. Using the Alexander Technique teaches you how to remove unnecessary stress from your muscles and to carry yourself better.
Try adjusting your sleeping position or even change your mattress. While it might not be the main cause, an unsuitable mattress can make symptoms worse.
If things get to an unbearable point then surgery is an option. This is usually used as a last resort and on specific problems such as a prolapsed disc. In rare, extreme instances the surgery can include removing the joint in your back that is causing the problems and fusing the spine back together.