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February 12, 2010, last updated October 24, 2015
By Katrina Devine, Contributing Columnist




If you sit at a desk or lift even a load of laundry occasionally,
then you probably have experienced that familiar twinge of
pain. My
aching back!  

But did you know what an epidemic back pain really is?
According to the Centers for Disease Control, back pain
accounted for 13.7 million medical visits the US in 2001 and
almost 80% of us will experience back pain at some point in
our lives.

Back pain is also the leading cause of absences from the
work place. What causes back pain? Are there natural
remedies or exercises we can do to prevent back pain or to
relieve back pain?

There are many types of back pain and the duration and
intensity of the pain differs from person to person.


Parts of the Back



The back can be classified into four distinct regions:

1. Cervical- this area is responsible for neck pain. The pain
can be caused by muscle tightness in the upper back or neck
or also joint pinching. (Read more about the
causes of neck
pain and stiff necks. )

2. Thoracic- upper back pain is located here. The pain is
often caused by ligament injury, repetitive strain, trauma or
simply bad posture.

3. Lumbar- lower back pain-also called lumbago refers to
this region. It is the most common region for pain and
therefore the causes are greatly varied.

4. Pelvic- tail bone pain exists here. This pain usually comes
from sitting too much or simply sitting on a hard surface. It
can also be caused by trauma.

There has been much research conducted into reducing back
pain. Some people choose to have surgery but this is a
complicated and not always successful solutions. Below are
10 things which you can do to help alleviate back pain:



























1.      
Lose weight. Losing weight is the single most
important thing you can do to alleviate back pain. Excess
weight is one of the leading causes of back pain.

If you are at all overweight, your back is strained. It simply
has too much weight than what it was designed for. If you  
stay at a
healthy weight for your height,  your spine will be
grateful.



2.     
 Exercise. The University of Alberta recommends that
you work out using weights four times a week. Weights
strengthen the back and usually are less stressful than
aerobics on the back. A 2008 University of Alberta study
found that using light weights and doing exercises such as
dead lifts, seated rows and lateral pulls are effective in
strengthening the regions of your back.

But one study suggests that being more active may help
women more than men with back pain. A 2013 study from
the Karolinskia Institutet in Sweden examined the leisure
time activities of 1836 men and women with back pain. They
found that  physical activities helped to boost the recovery of
women from back pain by 50% to 67%. But for men, being
more active in their leisure time had no effect at all on back
pain recovery.



3.     
 Drink water .Scientists at Southern Illinois University
Carbondale have found that drinking water can help alleviate
a sore back. Muscles perform better when hydrated
therefore the muscles in the back don’t have to work as hard
and they have less chance of becoming inflamed while
hydrated.



4.      
Practice Pilates or Yoga --You Are Only As Old As Your
Back Feels
. The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons
and West Virginia University both recommend that certain
types of Yoga and Pilates can help the back.

[Update:

In Hatha yoga, yogis often say that "you are only as old as
your back feel". You are reminded that your back is capable
of moving in 7 different directions. Your back can move
forward, backward, to both sides, like a cat arching and like
a scoop arching in the other direction. To move in these 7
directions, your back must be flexible in the joints of the
vertebrae and strong in the supporting muscles.

Start slowly to improve the flexibility of your back. Lie down
on your back, lift your knees while keeping your feet on the
floor. Then drop your knees to the left side gently. Your back
will be asked to bend slightly. Bring your knees back to
center. Then drop them to the other side.

You can slowly recover your back's natural flexibility with
practice.

Just bending over and trying to touch your toes, standing up
and trying to bend backwards gently every day slowly
expands your backs range of motion.

To recover your back's ability to rotate, try to dance the
twist again, as Chubby Checkers reminded us. Start slowly, if
you haven't done the twist in a while.]



5.      
Try herbal medicine.  The University of Toronto
recommends taking herbs to help alleviate the pain. In
particular, Willow Bark, a capsicum plaster and Devil's claw
have been used successfully by those experiencing back pain.



6.      
Take breaks. If you are working at a repetitive task
that involves bending or are standing or sitting in the same
place then take breaks. This takes the pressure of the back.
Try to switch between chores that are sore on the back to
those that are not.



7.      
Acupuncture. Several studies conducted in the UK,
Australia and the US have found that acupuncture provides
relief for back pain in some patients. One mega-study in
2005 from the University of Maryland, led by Dr. Eric
Manheimer, looked at 33 other studies and concluded that,
yes, " Acupuncture effectively relieves chronic low back
pain."  However, the study notes that " No evidence
suggests that acupuncture is more effective than other active
therapies."



8.      
Sleep on your side. Sleep is the time when your body
performs its most important functions and it is important
that your spine is in its proper position for the duration of
the night.
Proper sleeping position enables your body to
relax which reduces pain throughout the day when you are
active.



9.      
Heat it up or cool it down. Depending on the type of
back pain and the cause of the pain, use a heated pad or an
ice pack. If the pain is caused by a muscle strain then you
can use a heat pack to relax the muscle. If the cause of the
pain is the nerves in the back then you must use an ice pack
to cool it down. If in doubt use an ice pack because using
heat on a sore nerve can make the problem worse.



10.
Strengthen your abs. Strong abs help your back by
sharing the work of supporting your upper body in a proper
posture. Strong abs directly correlate with a strong back.
Make sure that you regularly
condition each of the six muscle
regions that make up your abs, your core, to help supprt
your back in doing its work.

Bonus Tips

11.  
Conventional medicine. Sometimes no matter what we
do the pain just won’t go away. Then it is recommended that
you take an over the counter pain killer like aspirin or
ibupropen (an anti-inflammatory) or go to your doctor who
can prescribe something stronger.

12.
Back Pain Can Be a Sign of Heart Problems. Not all heart
attack signs are the classic ones. New studies have found
that many people, especially women, have different
symptoms of a heart attack, including back pain. (Read more
about
unusual heart attack symptoms from survivors.)


One final tip. Prevention is better than the cure. Avoid lifting
beyond your ability, always lift correctly and avoid repetitive
activities. Proper lifting means using your legs to power
yourself up, not your back.  
















































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