I saw an article today on lower back pain that I wanted to share with you…lower back pain is a common reason people visit the pharmacy to buy pain killers. An injury to the muscles or joints is the most common cause (such as sudden twisting or lifting a heavy object) but a lack of movement and strength is what makes us more vulnerable. Sometimes the smallest movement can lead to a chronic pain condition that can last months and even years.

The article makes a good point about avoiding sudden intense activities if you sit all day long at work. Sitting all day can actually be the cause of lower back pain and makes you more susceptible to injury. The muscles become incredibly weak and need to be strengthened gradually. It is just as important to maintain flexibility. Get up from your desk regularly, have a stretch and walk around. It can be a catch-22 situation… not enough exercise or movement can create pain that prevents you from exercising and moving.

If you have developed back pain it is important not to cause further injury. If your pain is mild to moderate your pharmacist can recommend a suitable pain reliever (such as an anti-inflammatory). Rest the area for a couple of days and get back to regular activities as soon as possible. The problem should resolve within a few days.

If, however, you experience any shooting pain down your legs, tingling or numbness, if you need pain relievers for longer than a few days or if the cause is not obvious it is very important to see your doctor as soon as possible. Do not leave it for too long because pain can become chronic (lasting long after the area should have healed) and difficult to manage.

We all become complacent about things that have not affected us to date but prevention is the way to go. Low impact exercise like walking and swimming are great to get started along with some gentle stretching exercises. If you have an injury or pain it is important to have your exercises specially chosen by a physiotherapist or doctor to ensure they are safe and appropriate.

Proper lifting techniques are also essential:

  • Bend the knees and hips
  • Feet apart
  • Hold the load close to your body
  • Keep your back straight
  • Tighten stomach muscles
  • Use legs to lift
  • Change direction using your feet – do not twist your body
  • Get help if it is to heavy

People often put all their faith in medications to fix their lower back pain. Medications will make it easier to carry on with your day-to-day activities but rarely do they cure back pain on their own. Do not discount the benefits of non-pharmaceutical treatments such as stretching, massage, exercise and hot/cold packs. They will help to ease pain and will ensure a faster recovery.

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