About 80 percent of adults will experience back pain at least once in their life and that about 30 percent of that pain is recurring? Untreated or improperly treated back pain can adversely affect a person’s life. More than $50 billion per year is spent treating back pain, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
“Causes of back pain range from muscle strain, arthritis, fractures, disc protrusion and injuries to cancer and infection, “ said Syed Khader, MD, a physiatrist/pain management specialist with SSM Health DePaul Hospital. “Risk factors include poor health, history of back pain, lack of fitness, smoking, drug and alcohol use, increasing age, and being overweight.”
Discomfort can include sharp pain or dull aches and can centralize in the lower back, upper back or neck, or radiate along the spine. “If back pain is accompanied with one of several other conditions such as fever, unexplained weight loss, changes in bladder or bowel habits, severe nocturnal pain, loss of sensation or limb weakness, then it’s important to seek immediate medical attention, “ said Khader.
Preventing back pain is the first step to living comfortably. Engaging in regular exercise will not only strengthen the core muscles that support the back, it also will relieve much of the stress that could prolong the presence of pain.
“However, it’s important to talk with your health care provider before beginning any exercise routine. You might have some physical restrictions,” said Khader. “Plus, your physician also may be able to recommend specific stretches and exercises to strengthen your back.
Preventative measures include:
Maintain good posture
Wear comfortable, supportive shoes
Follow ergonomic principles like sitting appropriately in your office chair, reducing excessive motions, and taking time to stretch your back throughout the day
Follow proper lifting techniques (Think before you lift!)
Maintain an optimal weight
Early evaluation of back problems is essential in order to limit the severity and potential for disability. The goal of treatment is not only to reduce your discomfort, but also to restore strength and function, as well as to prevent recurrence.
It’s important to remember that back pain cannot be ignored. In order to prevent long-term pain, discomfort and disability, consult with a physician as soon as you feel over-the-counter methods are not effective.
Dr. Khader’s office is located on the campus of SSM Health DePaul Hospital at 12255 DePaul Drive, Suite 120, Bridgeton, MO 63044. His office can be reached for appointments by calling 314-291-7900. For more information on SSM Health Orthopedics, visit ssmhealth.com/orthopedics.