Walking on a person’s back is not a safe decision for the person with the back pain or yourself. You are correct in trusting your instincts.
Back pain is one of the most common medical problems and can be experienced as a dull, constant ache or a sudden, sharp pain. Acute back pain comes on suddenly and usually lasts from a few days to weeks. Back pain is termed chronic if it lasts for more than three months.
The American Association of Neurological Surgeons states that possible causes of back pain include:
- prolapsed or ruptured disk
- muscle strain
- poor posture
- excess weight
Taking over-the-counter pain relievers or non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen) can ease the symptoms.
Ice or cold packs can reduce the pain and swelling of a muscle strain or spasm (tighteningof the muscle). Use ice or cold packs for 20 minutes three or four times a day during the first few days.
A hot bath or heating pad after 72 hours of the onset of the injury may further reduce pain.
Learning to effectively manage everyday stress can help your recovery. Staying in bed for more than two days may increase the pain and stiffness. Moderate activity that does not significantly worsen the pain is more helpful.
If your back pain is severe or doesn't improve after three days, you should contact your physician or primary care provider. You should also seek medical attention if you have back pain following an injury, numbness or tingling, or severe pain that does not improve with rest.
The best things you can do to prevent back pain are:
- Exercise often and keep your back muscles strong.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight increases stress on the lower back.
- Avoid smoking or learn how to quit.
- Get enough calcium and vitamin D every day to build strong bones.
- Try to stand up straight and avoid heavy lifting when you can. Good posture keeps the body’s weight aligned (straight) and reduces stress on the back muscles. When sitting, use a chair with enough lower back support or place a pillow behind your back. Change positions frequently.
– Beth Nicastro
Beth Nicastro, PNP-BC, is a women's health community coordinator/educator. She also sees patients as a nurse practitioner at East Aurora Pediatrics.
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