12 Things You Need To Know About Back Pain

Part 2

7. Avoiding activities and moving carefully does not help in the long-term

It is common, especially during the first few days of back pain, that your movement can be significantly altered. This is similar to limping after spraining your ankle, and generally resolves as the pain settles. While initially hard, getting back doing valued activities which are painful, or feared, is important. Many people, after an episode of back pain, can begin to move differently due to a fear of pain or a belief that the activity is dangerous. Such altered movement can be unhealthy in the long term and can actually increase the strain on your back.

8. Poor sleep influences back pain 

When someone has pain, a good night’s sleep can be hard to get. However, it works both ways as sleep problems can lead to back pain in the future. In the same way that poor sleep can make us more stressed, give us a headache, make us tired or feel down, it can also cause or prolong back pain. So, improving sleeping routine and habits can be very helpful in reducing pain.

9. Stress, low mood and worry influence back pain 

How we feel can influence the amount of pain we feel. Back pain can be triggered following changes in life stress, mood or anxiety levels.

In the same way that these factors are linked to other health conditions like cold sores, irritable bowel syndrome and tiredness, they have a very large effect on back pain. As a result, managing our stress, mood and anxiety levels through doing things we enjoy, and engaging in relaxation can be really beneficial in helping back pain.

10. Exercise is good and safe 

Many people with pain are afraid of exercise and avoid it as they think it may cause them more problems. However this is not true! We now know that regular exercise helps to keep you and your body fit and healthy, and actually reduces pain and discomfort. It relaxes muscle tension, helps mood and strengthens the immune system once started gradually.

All types of exercise are good, with no major differences in effectiveness between them – so pick one you enjoy, can afford and which is convenient.

Walking, using the stairs, cycling, jogging, running and stretching are all good and help relax all the tense muscles in your body.

When you are in pain, starting exercise can be very hard. Under-used muscles feel more pain that healthy muscles. Therefore, if feeling sore after exercise, this does not indicate harm or damage to the body.

11. Persistent back pain CAN get better

Since back pain is associated with many factors that vary between individuals, treatments that address the relevant factors for each individual can be effective. Failing to get pain relief after lots of different treatments is very frustrating and cause people to lose hope.

However, this is very common as most treatments only address one factor, for example someone goes for a massage for their sore muscles, but doesn’t address their sleep or fitness or stress levels.

By identifying the different contributing factors for each individual and trying to address them, pain can be significantly reduced and people can live a happier and healthier life.

12. Stop tensing your muscles 

Increased muscle tension can contribute to persistent LBP.

Core strengthening exercises, like planks or just tensing and bracing your core can contribute to back pain persisting. This often alters the way you move. These patterns need to be identified and changed with the help of a skilled therapist.

Relaxing and moving loosely is an important starting point. Breathing exercises and a bespoke movement and rehab programmed designed for you

Information provided by Dr Mary O’Keeffe (University of Limerick), Dr Derek Griffin (Tralee Physiotherapy Clinic), Dr Kieran O’Sullivan (Aspetar Orthopaedic and Sports Hospital, Doha, Qatar), Professor Peter O’Sullivan (Curtin University, Australia), Professor Chris Maher (The George Institute for Global Health, University of Sydney, Australia)

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