Watch your back
How common is back pain?
Back pain is something all of us experience from time to time. It can interfere with daily activities and is a common medical complaint. In fact, the National Institutes of Health estimates that one quarter of U.S. adults experience a day of back pain over the course of a 3 month period.
What causes back pain?
Back pain is usually a symptom caused by a medical problem such as a sprain, muscle tension, pregnancy, or even emotional stress. Some people are more at risk for back pain than others. Having a job that requires heavy lifting, eating a diet high in calories and fat, or smoking can each increase your chance of developing back pain.
What can I do?
- Exercise regularly to increase strength and balance and decrease risks of falling and injuring your back
- Consider yoga or weight-bearing exercise, like chest lifts, pelvic tilts or bent knee sit-ups to help strengthen the back.
- Eat a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D to keep bones strong. Leafy vegetables, milk, or orange juice are good choices.
- Lift heavy objects by keeping your back straight (or vertical) and knees bent. Avoid bending over the object.
- Practice good posture at work, while sitting and standing. Use a pillow behind your lower back for support.
- Sleep on a firm mattress.
- Talk with your health care team about weight-loss options if you are overweight or obese.
- Take Tylenol (acetaminophen), Advil or Motrin (ibuprofen) or Aleve (naproxen) for temporary relief as directed.