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Back on track
What a pain
A time to heal

7 ways to keep back pain at bay
7 ways to keep back pain at bay

Stop back pain in its tracks with these easy tips from the U.S. National Athletic Trainers’ Association:

  1. Stay limber with stretching activities such as yoga, tai chi or Pilates.
  2. Practice good posture. When sitting, keep your hips and knees at right angles to one another. When standing, keep your head up, shoulders straight, chest forward and stomach tight. Don’t sit or stand for long periods.
  3. Lift properly. Don’t arch or bend your back when picking up heavy objects. Let your legs do the work.
  4. Pick a firm mattress. Avoid or replace a sagging mattress. You should be able to sleep in a position that maintains the natural curve of your back.
  5. Maintain a healthy weight. Obesity adds to back pain.
  6. Quit smoking. Smoking can increase back pain and delay healing.
  7. Warm up before all activity. Increasing muscle temperature and flexibility before a workout reduces the injury risk.

What you wouldn’t give to be able to tend to your garden again! But bending over flowerbeds is not an option with that nagging back pain you’ve been experiencing. Could surgery be your golden ticket to pain-free days?

What a pain

Back pain is a problem that affects about eight in 10 Americans at some point, according to the National Pain Foundation. It may be brought on by aging, physical inactivity, obesity, a back injury—even the way you sit.

Most cases of back pain gradually improve on their own and may only require regular doses of over-the-counter pain relievers.

Physical therapy is often one of the first lines of defense for back pain. If it doesn’t help, pain-reducing injections, such as cortisone shots, may be given to decrease inflammation in your back. Your healthcare provider may also recommend complementary therapies like acupuncture, deep-tissue massage and chiropractic care.

Surgery may be an option if other treatments fail. Surgery is usually reserved for pain caused by pinched nerves, spinal cord compression and excessive movement between back bones. It may also be considered if your pain is accompanied by nerve damage, which can also cause numbness or tingling in your arms and legs and loss of bladder or bowel control.

A time to heal

Your healthcare provider may discuss one of the following options with you, depending on your condition:

  • Disc replacement removes a damaged disc and replaces it with an artificial one.
  • Partial disc removal involves taking out a small part of the disc that’s irritating nearby nerves.
  • Partial vertebra removal cuts out a part of the vertebra that’s developed bony growths, which pinch your spinal cord or nerves.
  • Spinal fusion permanently fuses two or more spinal bones together to stop painful motion between vertebrae and add stability to your spine.

Remember, surgery is usually a last resort. Talk with your healthcare provider about all your treatment options to get you back on track.