Back Pain: Symptoms, Diagnosis, Classification, & Treatment

Prevention

The following steps can help reduce your risk of developing back pain:

  • Exercise: Regular exercise not only helps to build strength and endurance, it also helps keep your weight under control which can help prevent back pain. Most experts agree that low-impact aerobic exercises are the best because these activities avoid straining or jerking the back. Exercises that help strengthen the back and abdominal muscles, core-strengthening exercises, will help protect your back. Flexibility exercises, targeting the flexibility in your upper legs and hips may be beneficial also to reduce the potential for back pain. Talk with your doctor or other health care professional before beginning any exercise program.

  • Stop Smoking: Back pain occurs at a significantly higher rate among smokers compared to non-smokers of the same weight, height and age.

  • Maintain a healthy weight: Being overweight also increases your risk of developing back pain. The more overweight you are, the greater your risk of having pain in your back.

  • Maintain good posture when standing: Keep your pelvis position neutral. To do this, keep your back straight with your head facing forward. Balance your weight equally on both feet, with your legs straight.  

  • Maintain good posture when sitting:  To reduce your risk of back pain, your seat or chair should have adequate support for your low back, arm rests and ideally it should be able to swivel if you are working. When you are sitting, keep your knees and hips level and your feet flat on the floor. If your feet don't rest on the floor, use a small foot rest or footstool to prevent back pain. Ideally, you should be able to sit straight up with good support in the "small" of your back. (the lumbar spine area). When you use a keyboard, your forearms should be horizontal with your elbows at right angles.

  • Lift properly: The key to preventing back pain when lifting is to lift with your legs, not your back.  Keep your back straight, with your feet shoulder-width apart. Place one foot slightly in front of the other to keep your balance and bend from your knees, not from your waist. Hold the object close to your body, maintain your back as straight as possible and tighten your abdominal muscles. This will pull your pelvis in. Remember to not straighten your legs before you lift. If you do, your back will be forced to do most of the lifting.  Never lift and turn or twist at the same time. If the load is too heavy, prevent back pain by getting help. While lifting, keep your eyes focused straight ahead. Don't look up or down. This will keep your neck in a straight line with your spine and prevent back strain and back pain.  

  • Move objects correctly: It's is easier on your back to push objects than to pull them across the floor.

  • Wear the proper shoes: High heels put strain on your back. Shoes with no heel are better for preventing back pain. 

  • Drive and ride correctly: To prevent back pain when travelling, make sure to have proper support for your back. Make sure the rear-view mirrors are positioned correctly so you can avoid twisting. The pedals should be squarely under your feet. If you are travelling long distances, take frequent breaks to get out of the vehicle and walk around to avoid back fatigue and back pain.

  • Rest right: The mattress on your bed should be able to support the weight of your buttocks and shoulders while keeping your spine straight.  Keep a pillow under your head, but it should not force your neck into a sharp angle, which can cause upper back pain.