When your back hurts, it’s tempting to do whatever it takes to quell the pain. After all, this is one of the most debilitating yet common kinds of pain there is, preventing millions of people from going to work and doing what they love each day. But pain relief at all costs is not the best approach. In fact, there are some things you might do to try to ease the pain that will actually worsen it. Here are a few don’ts to consider:
- Don’t Immediately Turn to Drugs – There’s no doubt about it: Painkillers can provide some relief, but the adverse side effects are often not worth the risk. As we all know, prescription opioids like oxycodone, hydrocodone, fentanyl, and codeine are closely linked to the use of heroin, and about 70 percent of all overdose deaths are caused by opioids. But prescription painkillers aren’t the only drugs to turn away from. Over-the-counter pain relievers have their own risks and side effects that you need to consider before becoming reliant on them to ease the pain.
- Don’t Spend the Whole Day Sitting – Prolonged sitting has a big impact on our overall health and well-being, and in no other part of the body is that quite as evident as the back. Sitting all day can cause or worsen a number of conditions, including sciatica, herniated disks, spinal stenosis, and muscle strains. It also contributes to poor posture, especially if you tend to sit in a chair that doesn’t properly support your back, which can leave a lasting impact.
- Don’t Stop Exercising – Although it may be the last thing you feel like doing when your back hurts, exercising is crucial to a speedy recovery. Exercising helps lubricate the joints and strengthen the muscles that support the back, which can result in a reduction in pain and stiffness. There is a caveat, however…
- Don’t Keep Exercising the Way You Always Do – Exercising is an essential part of your strategy for treating back pain, but not all exercise is good exercise. You need to do strengthening and stretching exercises that focus on the core while taking special care to prevent putting any undue strain on the back. Make sure you make modifications so that you don’t come away with worse pain.
- Don’t Sleep on Your Stomach – Small day-to-day things like how you sleep or how you sit when watching TV can drastically worsen your back pain. When you head to bed, make sure you’re lying in a position that properly supports the back, such as on your back or side with a pillow between your knees. When lounging, avoid sitting in deep-seated furniture and don’t rest with your legs straight out in front of you. The best way to sit is with a straight back and feet on the floor.
- Don’t Lift Heavy Things – Lifting heavy boxes, furniture, etc., can lead to a strain or sprain in the back, which will only add to your existing pain. It may also re-tear or worsen the injury you already have. This brings us to another important point: Don’t forget to rest in general. Just as you need exercise for healing, you also need rest. Be sure to punctuate your active days with rest days, taking a break from vigorous activity, to ensure you don’t push yourself too hard and risk injury.
- Don’t Forget to Eat Healthily – If you believe your back pain may be caused by inflammation (including arthritis), you should know that what you eat and drink may be worsening it. Certain foods contribute to inflammation, while others help to keep it at bay. You want to make sure you’re following an anti-inflammatory diet rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. Staying well-hydrated can also help prevent cramping or muscle spasms, so be sure to get your recommended daily amount of water each day.
- Don’t Get Hopeless – Last, don’t give up on finding relief. Although it can feel like there’s no end in sight, most back pain sufferers are able to find relief and get back to enjoying life to the fullest once again. Consider joining online or in-person pain support communities to find support from others who may be going through the same thing you are.