Physical therapy offers a healthy, safe way to find much-needed back pain relief
Did you know that approximately 80 percent of Americans have experienced (or will experience) back pain? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, around 1 in 5 people have chronic pain.
If you experience pain and discomfort on a daily basis, we encourage you to consult with a physical therapist who can work with you to address the symptoms and causes of your pain and help you gain better function.
If you are one of the many people living with back pain on a daily basis, here are five of our top tips, all backed by research and relatively easy to implement.
1. Get a good night’s sleep
Sleep is necessary for your body’s healing and regeneration processes to run smoothly. It’s also a good way to deal with physical stress. Getting enough sleep can help you experience less pain.
Is it difficult to fall or stay asleep when you’re in pain? To make it easier, follow these sleep hygiene tips:
- Sleep in a pitch-black room with the bedroom temperature set to 65 to 68 degrees.
- Dim the lights and power down your electronics for at least an hour before bedtime.
- Go to bed at the same time every night, and wake up at the same time every morning (weekends and holidays included).
2. Consume foods that aid in pain relief
Yes, food really is thy medicine! Research suggests that avoiding highly processed foods and consuming a lot of veggies, fruits, whole grains, high-quality protein, anti-inflammatory foods, and healthy fats can help decrease pain.
One reason is that eating a lot of nutrient-dense foods ensures our tissues get the raw materials they need to heal and repair.
Furthermore, when we reduce or eliminate foods in our diet that promote inflammation, such as alcohol and sugar, our pain levels naturally decrease.
3. Exercise regularly
Exercise can help with pain relief by increasing blood flow, stimulating the release of pain-relieving hormones and neurotransmitters, and improving joint strength and stability.
It’s helpful to talk to a physical therapist if you have chronic pain before starting an exercise program.
Your physical therapist can provide services that naturally alleviate your pain and maximize your function so exercise is easier and safer for you to do.
So get moving—at least 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week, if not all of them!
4. Take another look at your posture — are you sitting up straight?
Do you slouch in your chair or hunch over your phone all the time? Are you picking up objects with proper body mechanics, whether it’s a heavy box, a pencil on the floor, or even your child or grandchild?
There are numerous ways we move our bodies on a daily basis that do not appear to be problematic. However, if we repeatedly put our bodies through certain types of strain, we can develop tissue damage and chronic pain.
Consult with a physical therapist who can evaluate your posture, movement mechanics, and ergonomics. He or she can help you identify patterns and habits which you may not even be aware of but are still exacerbating your pain.
5. Practice breathing exercises
Deep breathing is beneficial to your health because it allows you to get enough oxygen into your tissues to heal them.
Deep breathing also stimulates the part of the nervous system that helps you relax, which is an excellent way to relieve stress and pain.
The following exercise, known as four-square breathing or box breathing, has been shown to help manage pain. Sit in a comfortable position and follow these steps:
- Breathe in through your nose for 4 counts.
- Hold your breath for 4 counts.
- Breathe out through your mouth for 4 counts.
- Hold at the bottom of your exhalation for 4 counts, then repeat the cycle for 2 minutes.
Back pain facts
“Back pain” is an all-encompassing term used to describe a vast number of conditions that cause pain in the upper or lower back. Sports-related injuries, poor posture, and car accidents are just a few of the many ways that someone can develop back pain.
Suffering an injury is the most common cause of back pain. This can happen in one of two ways: as a result of a one-time, severe trauma or as a result of a long-term, repetitive-use injury.
Because back pain is so commonplace in the United States, there is a lot of information we have on the topic. Below are some facts about back pain:
- Back pain is the leading cause of disability among people under the age of 45.
- Lower back pain affects an estimated 31 million people in the United States at any given time.
- Back pain runs second, only after the common cold, as the top reason for visiting a healthcare provider in the United States.
- Experts place the likelihood of any person to experience some type of back problem in their lifetime at about 80%. That’s four out of every five people!
- 30-40 percent of all workplace absences are due to back pain.
- Approximately one-quarter of adults in the United States said they had low back pain for at least one full day in the previous three months, and 7.6% said they had at least one episode of severe acute low back pain in the previous year.
- More than two-thirds of back strains are caused by lifting and other exertions, such as pulling and pushing.
- Most cases of back pain are mechanical—meaning they are NOT caused by serious conditions, such as infection, fracture, or cancer.
Call us today to get on the road to recovery
Are you living with chronic back pain? Have you grown tired of allowing it to run your life? Look no further than our physical therapy clinic for the relief you deserve. Contact our physical therapy clinic today.