Best Health - - STYLE NEWS - Dr. Hamil­ton Hall is an or­tho­pe­dic sur­geon and med­i­cal direc­tor of CBI Health Group.


AMOST PEO­PLE WILL EX­PE­RI­ENCE back pain at some point in their lives. It’s typ­i­cally caused by the ac­cu­mu­la­tion of repet­i­tive move­ments or sit­ting over many years. Most of the time it’s due to a sore joint, disc or lig­a­ment in your back, but it’s rarely se­ri­ous — even if it’s painful enough to feel that way. The good news is that it’s quite treat­able.

The first step is to fig­ure out which type of back pain you suf­fer from. The most com­mon type is felt pre­dom­i­nantly in your back (though it may also ra­di­ate down your leg) and it wors­ens when you bend for­ward. A doc­tor, phys­io­ther­a­pist or ki­ne­si­ol­o­gist can show you how to re­lieve this pain with ex­er­cises (for in­stance, an up­per body push-up re­sem­bling the co­bra pose in yoga), or with tools like a lum­bar support cush­ion for sit­ting or a foot stool to use when stand­ing. These moves and tools make you arch back­ward, which will re­duce pain. A phys­io­ther­a­pist or ki­ne­si­ol­o­gist can also teach ex­er­cises that help you main­tain an over­all bet­ter pos­ture to re­duce the fre­quency and in­ten­sity of fu­ture at­tacks.

The next most com­mon type of back pain oc­curs when you arch back­ward (like when painting a ceil­ing). Many peo­ple can man­age this pain on their own, of­ten just by slouch­ing for­ward, but ex­er­cises from a pro­fes­sional can also help.

If your pain is leg dom­i­nant, mean­ing it’s worse in the leg, it’s most likely to be the re­sult of ir­ri­ta­tion, caused by a rup­tured disc, to the root of a nerve that then trav­els down your spine into your leg. This pain, which is much rarer, is known as sci­at­ica, and it is con­stant, not in­ter­mit­tent. In 80 per­cent of cases, it will sub­side in time. If it doesn’t, a sur­geon can re­move the ir­ri­tat­ing pieces of disc.

The fi­nal type is in­ter­mit­tent leg-dom­i­nant pain that’s brought on by walk­ing. It oc­curs be­cause the boney lumps in­side the spinal canal cut off blood sup­ply to the nerve. It’s com­monly seen in el­derly peo­ple who can’t walk for long with­out rest­ing. If this pain is dis­abling, a sur­geon can re­move bone to pre­vent the nerve from be­ing pinched.

No mat­ter the cause, be­ware of turn­ing to strong painkillers. The sin­gle most com­mon rea­son for pre­scrip­tion ad­dic­tion to opi­oids is back pain, yet there’s no need for opi­oids in treat­ing back-dom­i­nant pain. If your pain is too much for you to han­dle, talk to your doc­tor about the safest way to man­age it.

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