Keep your back pain free: it pays to learn how!

If you practice simple back-health methods, you can avoid future problems and lessen pain you now have.

Myrna Driedger, MLA Winnipeg Manitoba Progressive Conservative (PC) caucus
Myrna Driedger
Broadway Journal

Lately I have heard several people complaining about back pain. Anyone who has experienced debilitating back pain knows it is not a fun experience. Whether the pain is due to constantly tightening up your shoulders and back muscles when you go out into the cold, sitting indoors at computers too long, or shoveling snow, the nagging ache of back pain can make one uncomfortable.

Needs proper care
With spring around the corner people are starting to think about gardening, golfing and other summer activities, so this is a good time to review the reasons for your back pain and incorporate preventative measures to avoid future back problems or help lessen the pain you may be experiencing now.

It is important to take care of your back and by practicing simple back health techniques at home you may be able to avoid major medical therapy or as a last resort surgery.

Consistent nagging back pain can take a toll on you. The pain can sap your energy. Back pain can cause difficulties with concentration or lead to restless sleep at night. If you are having back pain that can’t be healed after three or four days of self help you should make an appointment to see your doctor.

Muscle or ligament strain due to repetitive heavy lifting, or a sharp sudden twisting of your body often causes back pain. It can be something as simple as reaching down for your remote control or putting on a pair of shoes. Speaking of shoes, wearing high heels for long periods can throw your back out of kilter as well as cause muscle spasms due to the constant strain on your back. Carrying around bulky, heavy purses and and/or brief cases, hoisting them in and out of your car can also wreak havoc on your back.

A ruptured or bulging disk can press on a nerve causing severe back pain. Disks are spongy cushions located between the bones in your vertebrae of your spine.

Arthritis, specifically osteoarthritis, can cause back pain and if severe can cause the space around your spinal cord to become smaller adding more pressure to the spine. An abnormal curve in your back will also cause pressure to the back muscles and nerves. As we age, osteoporosis, a disease that causes brittle bones can result in tiny fractures to the vertebrae.

Ideally one wants to avoid getting back pain altogether. One of the best ways to do that is through good muscle management exercise. Low impact exercise such as swimming and walking are good. Both avoid the jolt to your back that more intense exercise such as running or heavy weight-lifting bring on.

Strengthening your abdominal muscles with yoga or Pilates strengthens your core, improving how your back feels. Poor posture can put added strain on your back. Try not to slump when you are standing. When sitting for long periods of time, ensure you change your position often and/or get up and walk around a little bit before you sit back down.

When lifting groceries or other heavy objects use your legs to bear the weight, bending your knees and keeping your back straight. Do not lift and twist your body at the same time.

Heat and massage can ease the pain
If you are experiencing mild back pain, frequent application of heat from a heating pad or a long hot bath can relieve symptoms. Regular massage by a licensed massage therapist or treatment by a physiotherapist can also be beneficial.

In rare cases back pain can be an indicator of a more serious condition. If you notice a difference in your bowel or bladder habits, if you have had a bad fall, if the pain is an intense constant pain, or spreads down one or both legs, causing weakness, tingling or numbing in your limbs, professional medical help is in order.

Practice safe and smart protection of your back. You may not want to try the limbo, but having a good healthy back will help you have good healthy life and a better sleep at night.

Myrna Driedger is MLA for Charleswood.

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