Fight Back Against Lower Back Pain

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A recently-published study in the Annals of Rheumatic Diseases has reported that lower-back pain is the number one cause of years lost due to disability. In this instance, disability was calculated by adding the number of years “lost due to an early death and the number of years lived with disability.” The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke previously reported that lower-back pain costs Americans $50 billion annually.

Chronic back pain is a major source of concern in the developed world, for two reasons: it reduces productivity, and its treatment is not simple or easy. TIME reports that one in ten people suffers from lower back pain. Office workers regularly sit at their desks for six hours each day, leaving them stiff and sedentary for a good portion of their waking hours each day of the week.

Treatments for back pain come with their own set of concerns. Less-intensive methods of pain alleviation include application of ice or heat, over-the-counter painkillers, and acupuncture. Some patients, however, choose surgery. Others turn to opiate painkillers, which raise concerns about addiction and the widespread over-prescribing of painkillers from doctors.

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) says that exercise is one of the most effective ways to treat lower back pain. “Being sedentary is thought to be one of the causes of back pain,” writes TIME. A strong core will do wonders for those suffering from lower back pain – your core helps hold you upright while sitting, walking, and standing. The NINDS also writes, “Maintaining and building muscle strength is particularly important for persons with skeletal irregularities.” Regular physical activity will stretch and strengthen muscles; try yoga, swimming, and walking. Swimming is especially helpful for those who suffer from joint pain, as water supports body weight and takes stress off of joints. Yoga has been revered for its stretching and strengthening properties, and walking is a good idea for anyone looking to start exercising more frequently.

Parents can start kids off on a back-pain-free lifestyle by encouraging physical activity and paying careful attention to backpacks’ weight load. “Kids regularly go to the emergency room for backpack-related injuries,” writes TIME.

This post was written by a guest contributor for Global Lift Corp., manufacturer of aquatic access equipment.