How to Manage Back Pain & When to Seek Help

When you suffer from back pain, every day can seem like a struggle. The aches and pain can make even the most basic tasks difficult and can affect your overall well-being. But there is a light at the end of the tunnel, as there are a variety of behaviors, prevention methods, and exercises you can do to help manage your back pain. It’s also important to know what to do when your pain is too much to bear. Below you’ll find a guide designed by the physical therapists at our Covington, Slidell, and Westbank locations to help you prevent, manage, and seek treatment for your back pain.


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How to Prevent and Minimize Back Pain

Back pain can be caused by a variety of factors, like medical conditions, injuries, and more. Though each case is different, there are some things you can do to help minimize back-related issues and prevent them from returning.

Don’t smoke. Habitual smokers are more susceptible to back pain because smoking restricts blood that carries vital nutrients from reaching your spinal discs.

Practice good posture. The shape of your back has a strong influence on aches and pains, and poor back posture places increased pressure on your disk space, leading to back pain. It’s important to provide support to your spine by sitting with lumbar support while at home and driving and making sure you are standing and lifting correctly.

Learn how to lift properly. It sounds like an easy task, but lifting objects incorrectly can injure your back if you do not know the right technique. You should never bend over and lift with your back, but instead, keep your back perpendicular to the ground, your head up, and lift with your knees.

Eat a healthy diet. As with most medically-related issues, your nutrition can have a strong bearing on your back and pain-related issues. You should always try to eat well-balanced, nutritional meals. For additional, preventative measures, you can increase your intake of calcium and vitamin D. Foods rich in these nutrients can help increase bone and spine health.

Don’t stop moving and try to keep your weight down. People who are obese or overweight are more likely to suffer from chronic back pain and back-relation conditions because the extra weight puts pressure on the spine. Not only can exercise help keep your weight within a healthy range, but regular activity has been known to ease both muscle tension and inflammation.

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Exercises That Can Strengthen the Back

As you’ve read above, there are a variety of changes you can make to your life to help prevent back pain. There are also a variety of exercises and stretches that you can perform that strengthen your back to help ward off future back pain and also help reduce current back pain. Some of these exercises include:

  • Opposite arm and leg reach: This exercise stretches your spine and back muscles, as well as strengthens your core. It can easily be done on the floor, on all fours, by outstretching your leg and opposite arm. For those who have difficulty getting around, however, it may be better performed with the assistance of professionals, such as physical therapists.
  • Hamstring stretch: Stretching your hamstrings can help with lower back and sciatica pain while being gentle with your back. There are multiple ways to perform this exercise, including sitting and laying on your back. Find which works best for you or consult your physical therapist to learn more benefits of this exercise.
  • Pelvic tilts: This exercise helps strengthen your abdominal muscles and can address any underlying back issues caused by pelvic misalignment. Performing this exercise regularly can help to improve your posture, therefore treating back pain caused by poor posture.
  • Piriformis stretch: The piriformis muscle is located behind the gluteus maximus and runs from the spine to the upper thigh. Stretching this muscle can help to alleviate back pain if caused by sciatica or the piriformis muscle due to its close connection with the spine.
  • Lower trunk rotation: This exercise can help to increase the range of motion in your hips and lower back. The lower trunk rotation exercise can be performed in various degrees of difficulty so it is important to build control of your muscles and perfect your form before progressing to more advanced versions.
  • Bridging: This exercise can help to increase hip mobility and strengthen the hips and lower back. It is a relatively easy exercise to learn hip control and stability.

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How to Decide When the Pain Is Too Much

It can be difficult to decide when it’s time to seek help for the pain that has become too much to handle. But how do you know if your back pain is something serious? And when is the right time to seek help?

Back pain can be caused by lifestyle choices, medical conditions, injuries, and more. The first step in managing your pain is discovering why it’s there. Some causes of back pain are more serious than others.

Seek immediate attention for any pain that is unbearable or can be rated as at least an 8 on a pain scale of 1-10. You should consider a call to your medical team if you experience a back injury, or pain along with any of the following symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Numbness, tingling
  • Loss of bladder/bowel functions
  • Family history of immune system suppression, cancer, or osteoporosis
  • Sudden pain at night
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Pain that lasts more than 6 weeks

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Your healthcare team can decide a course of action to not only discover the cause of your back pain but also treat it. Treatments can involve or include medications, lifestyle changes, and physical therapy. For more on managing your back pain with the benefits of physical therapy, contact our trusted professionals today. Treatments for back pain are offered at our Covington, Slidell, and Westbank locations so don’t hesitate to address your back pain!