With the approach of hunting season in Alaska, a hunter’s thoughts turn to the joys of being out in the wild, hiking the trails and perhaps bringing in a trophy moose or bear. For those with lower back pain, however, the approach of hunting season may be a trigger to find some remedies. Here are some suggestions, courtesy of your Alaska orthopedic surgeon at the Orthopedic Research Clinic of Alaska.
All About Back Pain
Back pain is very common in American adults and nearly everyone will experience the problem at least once in their lives. In many cases, it is the result of lifting something heavy. However, it may result from a degenerative condition or a problem like rheumatoid arthritis. Severe back pain, numbness, tingling, loss of bowel or bladder control, or loss of function in the leg means an immediate visit to the doctor, but in many cases, the pain is mild and can be managed at home.
Taking it easy for a day or so makes good sense. After that, however, too much rest is as bad as doing to much. That’s because muscles will begin to tighten and atrophy, cause secondary problems that can make the pain worse. For that first 24 to 48 hours, applying ice while you rest can help relieve the pain. After that, it’s often better to use heat. Neither treatment should be used for more than 20 minutes at a time.
The spine is meant to move, so continue your daily activities. If you spend most of your work day in a chair, get up and move around every 20 minutes or so. Gentle stretching exercises help keep the muscles limber. Pay close attention to your posture and body mechanics; when your back is already sore, poor posture can make it worse. Once past the acute phase, strengthening exercises – especially for the muscles of the trunk – will give your back more support.
Over the counter medications can be helpful for short-term use with lower back pain. For women, it’s important to avoid high heels, which may increase pressure on the lower spine and make you less stable. Smoking increases your risk of osteoporosis and fractures in the vertebrae (spinal bones). It has also been linked to an increased risk of low back pain. If you have low back pain and are overweight, weight loss may help reduce stress on the spine.
If all else fails, or the pain is severe (especially if it hurts when you’re sitting or lying down), please contact your Alaska orthopedic surgeon at ORCA today. We can assess your problem and make recommendations for treatment.