Sixteen years ago, a group of more than 80 patient advocate organizations coordinated in a group effort to designate the month of September as Pain Awareness Month. If you’re not familiar with the type of activities or goals are associated with these events, you might be surprised by the difference that they can make. By specifically targeting a full month to talk about the issue of pain and pain management, participants are better able to raise funds for research, provide educational resources, and increase engagement on the part of local and federal government. With an increased national focus on the opioid crisis, the issue of effective and safe pain management has become more important than ever, and our practice is doing everything that it can to help support this effort.
When it comes to managing back pain, the first step should be in determining how serious and severe the pain is. If you sustained an injury or feel any kind of weakness, numbness or tingling in your legs or are having a problem controlling your bladder or bowels, you need to consider the situation urgent and contact a physician immediately. Likewise, if your pain has become chronic and is interfering with your quality of life, it is time to set up an appointment with a spine expert who can provide you with several options appropriate to your situation.
If you occasionally experience back pain that is mild, there may be things you can do for yourself at home to help provide relief and prevent pain in the future. Here are some of our favorite tips.
- Ice a back injury for 24 to 48 hours. Doing this will provide relief from pain by reducing inflammation.
- Avoid total rest. This may seem counter-intuitive, but when you keep moving you will avoid stiffness, which can make matters worse. Do, however, stay away from strenuous or unusual activity and don’t do anything that aggravates your pain.
- Exercise once the pain has gone away. The best way to avoid pain in the future is to strengthen your core and the muscles that support your lower back. The stronger your hip, pelvic and abdominal muscles are, the less likely you are to have back pain in the future.
- Stay flexible. This doesn’t mean that you have to sign up for a yoga class, but it does mean that you should take the tie to stretch and don’t stay in the same position for more than 20 minutes. Our bodies are made to move.
- Check your posture. This is true for your positioning when you’re walking, sitting or standing, including at work. Make sure that you are giving your back the support that it needs when you’re seated and that whent you’re standing you have your shoulders back and spine straight.
- Don’t be afraid to take over-the-counter pain relievers. There is no reason to suffer. These medicines can do a world of good at alleviating minor aches and inflammation.
If your pain is acute or chronic, you will be best served by setting up an appointment with a spine surgeon who can discuss both conservative and surgical options to help stop your suffering. Call us today for more information or to set up a convenient time for a consultation.