As I get older, I'm starting to notice more aches and pains in my every day life, just like a lot of my patients. Back pain has bothered me off and on for the past several years (it has been acting up recently!) and is the top complaint for patients in a primary care setting like ours. It got me thinking about things we can all do to prevent back issues in the first place, along with simple treatments should these pains arise.
- Weight control: keeping an ideal body weight is crucial in staving off multiple musculoskeletal issues, and back pain in particular. The more weight one's core has to carry around, the more wear and tear over the years and the higher chance of acute injuries.
- Posture is key: correct posture in all aspects of life (standing, sitting, sleeping, etc) is crucial to keeping the spine correctly aligned, evenly distributing weight and limiting specific pressure points.
- Stay active: the worst thing for the back is inactivity, especially in poor posture positions like sitting at a desk!
- again, staying active is key despite the discomfort as "bed rest" has shown to be detrimental to recovery
- targeted stretching and exercises, either at home or with a physical therapist
- heat, heat, heat. All forms (hot showers, heating pads, topical bengay/icyhot) are welcome
- osteopathic manipulation or chiropractic services
- acupuncture and yoga
- analgesic medication, though caution required with other medical conditions and medications
- herbal therapies such as devil's claw, willow bark, capsicum cream and comfrey root extract
Lauren Hedde, DO and Mark Turshen, MD are Family Physicians and Founders of Direct Doctors, Inc. a Direct Primary Care Practice.