What to do about back pain

What to do about back pain

Many people know the dreaded feeling of waking up in the morning to a stiff and achy back, followed by confusion on why it’s hurting and then frantic googling on how to find relief.

“Back pain can be caused by a lot of things. Part of it is genetic and we have no control over that,” said Dr. Nicholas Hempeck, neurosurgeon at Aurora Medical Center Summit. “Often, however, it just happens. The majority of patients I work with just wake up one day and have no control over it.”

However, there are a few things you can do to help your back and spine health. And the most helpful things you can do — eating right and exercising — aren’t new, according to Dr. Hempeck.

“One thing we do have control over is weight. Overweight patients are more likely to put stress on their spine,” he said. “Modifying unhealthy lifestyle habits and poor body mechanics can help improve back pain.”

It’s also important to increase your core strength, which isn’t just doing sit-ups and focusing on your abdominal muscles— targeting the muscles in your back that actually connect to your spine are important too. For people who sit a lot during the day, taking breaks to walk and making sure you’re sitting up straight can help, too.

“Poor posture and lack of activity can contribute to back pain,” said Dr. Hempeck. “Walking and performing general aerobic exercises can improve fitness, increase pain tolerance, and of course improve general health.”

Exercise and healthy eating can help prevent you from injuring your back. If your pain isn’t getting better, or worsens with certain movements like bending or extending your back, you should seek medical care. Pain that radiates to your legs, weakness, numbness or tingling are all signs you should go in, as is any issue of urinary or bowel incontinence. If you’re experiencing any of these complications, contact your primary care doctor.

Are you having back or neck problems? Take a free online quiz here to learn more or get started with a spine navigator

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  1. Love the article , HOWEVER, massage is now considered a part complementary medicine by the NIH. I am a clinical pharmacist and clinical massage therapist . It is most rewarding to promote and synergy with both of my professions. So also consider massage therapy for your next patient in pain.

  2. We’re does Marva work? Would love to try something different for my pain.

  3. I had a back sprain, couldn’t get out of bed or dress myself even to do nr2 in the bathroom it was hard, pain kept on shifting to the sides of my back , at one point I thought I have kidney problem. Doing physical therapy and the pain was still severe with painkiller on Tuesday and later when I take my clothes off I noticed my leftside of my abdomen where the pain was from back to the front was swollen than the right side.
    WHAT could be the cause of that?

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About the Author

Ben Hoekstra
Ben Hoekstra

Ben Hoekstra is a public affairs coordinator with Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care. He previously worked in marketing and PR for various Milwaukee nonprofits and received his master’s degree in Corporate Communications from Marquette University. He enjoys the outdoors, cooking, and all things Milwaukee.