Back pain, a top cause of chronic pain in America, can affect the ability to live and enjoy life with others in addition to not being able to work or take care of basic chores around the house.
Back pain can make you feel as though you cannot move. That feeling translates into a nagging fear that many have to live with every day.
The good news is that there are ways to work through this fear and completely transform your life into a life of mobility. Have you heard of functional restoration? Functional restoration provides patients with skills to help them manage their back pain, and in many cases, get back to living normal lives; even playing sports and fitness related activities. Patients learn various exercises that will help them build strength. This concentration provides much-needed support to the muscles that surround the back and core area, and over time, can create mobility with greater comfort and confidence. They also learn techniques to help them manage the pain such as breathing and coping skills.
What causes back pain? It is usually due to mechanical stress and strain put on the back, often from too much upper body weight. This stress affects the spine which is made up of small bones called the vertebrae. These vertebrae contain discs that sit between them acting as a shock absorber so that the vertebrae do not grind against one another. With age, these discs can wear down, tear or become injured. Other conditions that can cause back pain are overuse injuries, issues with spinal nerves, vertebral fractures, osteoporosis, spinal stenosis and scoliosis.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Americans spend about $90 billion dollars a year on diagnostic tests, surgery, and other treatments and that back pain is the leading cause of disability for people under the age of 45. Yet, it has become apparent that through functional restoration, these costs can be reduced, and drugs and narcotic medications can be eliminated in many cases. Sadly, many patients go to the exercise programs after having been through surgery, but it really should be the other way around; surgery should be the last resort! Because surgery often leads to depression and anxiety, prescription medication becomes a focus that can, ultimately, have side effects and a risk of becoming addictive.
Where can you find a program that works for you? Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, N.H. has a three-week boot camp type program for chronic back pain sufferers and has reported much success with its patients. The program costs about $17,000; however, insurance may cover some of the cost in addition to financial assistance that may be available.
Programs like these work with patients in various ways to include strengthening, cardio and pain management techniques such as breathing and ways to cope as pain flares up. This also helps with the emotional setback that comes with such pain and demobilization. The movement that starts to takes place often helps patients keep their weight in check. Many patients have reported much weight gain due to their immobility.
Programs such as these can help with weight loss and getting patients back to better health. One woman, who had gained 100 lbs. due to her back pain, learned how to perform specific tasks that were associated with the business she owned. She learned the skills and techniques to properly lift boxes, for example, by separating the mind from the body. That combined with the strengthening and cardio exercises gave her what she needed to get moving again.
It is no surprise that movement can create more movement! So before going under the knife or getting prescription meds, consider these excellent exercises.
Back Pain Exercises
As with any new exercise, you may want to consult your doctor or physical therapist. Take it slow but try to do these exercises daily. use deep breathing to help you relax.
Standing Wall Stretch:
Stand next to a wall or stable surface at arms length. Place your hand on the wall and slowly stretch your hips towards the wall. Hold for 3-4 seconds and release. Repeat 10 times on each side.
Advanced Standing Stretch:
You can do this without a wall by placing one leg behind you. Bend in the same direction as your back leg. Hold for 3-5 seconds. Release. Repeat 10 times on each side.
This is a common yoga pose. Start lying face down with hands on the ground by your shoulders. Slowly push your upper body off of the ground. Hold for 3-5 seconds and release back to start. Repeat 10 times.
Knee Side To Side:
Lie on your back with knees bent and feet together. Rotate legs slowly to the right side, then slowly to the left side. Repeat 10 times.
Raise knees to a 90-degree angle. Rotate legs slowly side to side.
Chair Roll Down:
Sit in a chair or on a bench, with knees spread apart. Bend forward and reach back between your legs, holding the pose for 3 seconds. Slowly roll back up. Repeat 10 times.
Back Pain Prevention
There are a few things that you can do to prevent back pain such as practicing good posture whenever you sit or stand. When lifting something, use your legs, not your back. Include strengthening exercises in your fitness routine. Choose exercises that strengthen the abdominal muscles, hips, back and pelvic area. This helps to develop strong core muscles making you less susceptible to chronic back pain. If you notice a problem, don’t ignore it; work with a physical therapist who can teach you various exercises to help you develop strength in the areas where you need it most.
(h/t Wall Street Journal)