If you’re among the 60 to 70 million Americans living with back pain, your first priority is to make it go away, or at least reach a point where it’s manageable. There’s often no harm in using a heating pad or taking some over-the-counter pain or anti-inflammatory medications. These are go-to remedies that often provide some type of relief. However, some things you may be doing as you attempt to live with chronic back pain may be making your discomfort worse, not better.
1. Sleep Randomly Throughout Your Day
Some initial rest when you have back pain is fine and can actually encourage tissue healing. However, sleeping whenever you can may throw off your body’s natural sleep cycle (circadian rhythm) and prevent you from getting the deep, recuperative sleep your body needs to naturally heal. Enhance your sleep habits by:
- Avoiding strenuous exercise before bed
- Seeking treatment for sleep disorders that may be unrelated to your back pain, such as sleep apnea or restless leg syndrome
- Using a mattress that supports your spine
2. Skip Exercise Altogether
Some exercises can contribute to back pain, especially ones that involve placing added pressure on your spine. However, all exercise shouldn’t be avoided. Remaining completely inactive weakens muscles that support the spine and makes back pain worse. Instead, opt for exercises that are:
- Gentle yet still beneficial, such as walking and stretching
- Performed in water
- Recommended by a physical therapist
- Meant to increase flexibility and range of motion
3. Do Everything Yourself
You’re not doing your back any favors by attempting to do every task yourself. You may be surprised at how willing family members, friends, and neighbors are to help with things like running errands or doing yard work if you ask.
4. Put Off Getting Meds Refilled
New laws concerning prescription pain medications can make the process of getting a refill frustrating. However, if you put off getting refills, you may unintentionally make your pain worse and become increasingly dependent on your meds when you do get them refilled. Avoid this risk by sticking with one pharmacist or pharmacy chain, if possible. Also, let your doctor’s office know if you will soon need a refill before you completely run out.
5. Ignore Signs of Depression
Chronic pain sometimes leads to depression, especially if back pain has resulted in increased isolation and become a financial burden. Lingering depression and anxiety can actually make pain worse. If you’ve noticed a change in your mood recently, talk to your doctor. You may benefit from:
- A referral from your doctor to a therapist or counselor
- Regular exercise tailored to your abilities to encourage the release of “feel-good” hormones called endorphins
- Joining a local or online support group for people with chronic pain
There are many possible pain management techniques that may make your back pain more manageable. If your discomfort is seriously affecting your quality of life, talk to your doctor about other possible solutions, such as chiropractic care, new therapeutic treatments, the use of steroid injections, or possible back surgery. Santa Monica residents can rely on the expert surgeons at The Spine Institute to find an effective solution.
At The Spine Institute Center, we specialize in spinal fusion surgery and back fusion alternatives. Get in touch with us today at 310-828-7757 and find out how you can start living a pain-free life.