Identifying Back Pain: Acute vs Chronic
Acute pain begins suddenly, but does not last long. It immediately follows injury, lifting, bending, or twisting. The reason for pain is identifiable and the duration is temporary. As the injury heals, the pain subsides. Typically, acute pain will not last longer than six weeks.
Beginning gradually, chronic pain can last weeks, months, or years. Often, there isn’t a recognized reason for pain. Sometimes, it will come and go. Chronic pain can alter the patient’s nervous system, causing increased sensitivity.
Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle to Minimize Back Pain
Lifestyle is often overlooked as a contributing factor to back pain. We’ve included five key elements to prevent back pain.
- Stay hydrated. The Institute of Medicine recommends that adults drink 1.9 liters of fluid daily. That is approximately an eight ounce glass of water eight times each day. Dehydration can aggravate the symptoms of some chronic conditions, like headaches and back pain.
- Eat healthy. Being overweight can unwanted pressure on muscles, ligaments and tendons, casuing inflammation, which is a known cause of back pain. Some foods contribute to inflammation, others reduce it. Review our handy infographic for nutrition tips.
- Quit smoking. For the health of your spine, quit today. Even inhaling second-hand ages the spine, which contributes to pain. Also, smoking restricts blood flow which slows the healing process.
- Get moving. Exercise can reduce and prevent back pain. Strong abdominal and back muscles can prevent back pain. Extra weight puts a strain on the spine, leading to pain and injury.
- Sleeping. According to the Mayo Clinic, yes! If you only use a pillow to support your head, you aren’t sleeping correctly. Stomach sleepers need a pillow positioned under your pelvis, back sleepers should put it under your knees, and side sleepers should keep a pillow between your legs.
When Sitting and Standing Causes Back Pain?
Our posture while seated or standing can cause back pain. According to the Mayo Clinic, adopting a neutral posture position can prevent and reduce back pain. Poor posture leads to our muscles struggling to keep balance. Some muscles grow strong, while others become weak. The imbalance leads to back pain. Normal spinal alignment maintains balance and strengthens our core musculature. A strong core minimizes back pain and headaches. Tips for good posture include:
- Arms and shoulders should fall into a relaxed position — not hunched over, raised, or pulled back
- When seated, keep feet flat on the floor or supported on a footstool, and maintain a level line from hips to knees
- Use a rolled towel or lumbar pillow to support the lower back while seated, especially if sitting for long periods of time at a desk, etc.
- Feet should be a hip’s-width apart with knees relaxed (not locked)
- Maintain even distribution of weight on both feet
- Keep head centered — avoid titling it forward, backward, or sideways
Proper Weight-Lifting Techniques to Reduce Back Pain
Despite their exceptional training, even American soldiers can use professional instruction on how to safely lift weights. Tech. Sgt. Hussein Hamdan, 39th Force Support Squadron fitness center operations manager confides to Military.com that soldiers aren’t immune from injury. He attributes pain and injury to failing to practice recommended lifting technique. Guidelines for safe lifting include:
- Lift with a spotter: It is natural for us to have a side of our body that is stronger. During a lifting exercise, we want to become balanced. When exercising with weights, a spotter will recognize if our dominate side is causing us to lift lop-sided.
- Use our legs: To keep pressure off our backs, we want to get as close to the weight as possible. To achieve this, stand square in front of the weight, kneel down, and lift with your legs.
- Let our body recover: Results from lifting won’t happen overnight. Muscle growth occurs during the resting period. Overworking our muscles will cause pain and injury.
- Breath through the lift: Do not hold your breath while lifting. While it’s tempting to believe holding our breath will make lifting easier, it is dangerous. The air in our body needs to escape, and under the added pressure from the weights our bodies are susceptible to hernias. Breathe and exhale.
- Remember to stretch: Never under estimate the power of a good stretch! When done properly, stretching can reduce or eliminate many types of back pain. Aim to hold a stretch for 20 to 30 seconds. Stretching should never induce pain. Those with existing pain or a history of back pain should consult a physician or physical therapist to develop a stretching program
Use these tips to avoid back pain. However, if you are experiencing back pain or have a history of back pain, contact Advanced Health Chiropractic for a spinal analysis.