Often people are under the wrong impression when it comes to lower back pain. They believe once back pain has taken hold, it never lets go. They start planning their lives around back pain, instead of allowing the spine be what it was made for: flexibility.
People that have not yet experienced back pain, don't pay much notice to it. They might detect slight changes in stiffness levels after a particularly strenuous activity, but besides that not much else. This isn't necessarily the best thing because that also indicates that they don't pay much notice to the overall spine health. If we take a preventative approach to health, instead of curative, the impact of the disease will also not be that much. In which case, I do recommend reading further to find out what is important to keep your spine healthy.
For those that have long-term relationship with lower back pain. Always coming and going without much rhyme or reason. Sometimes it stays for longer than it is gone. I can imagine the frustration and sadness that it must cause. Feeling betrayed by your own body.
Due to all these factors, people seek any and all reasons that make sense to them to explain the phenomenon, from familial to body build and everything in between.
The good news is that non-specific mechanical back pain does not have to be a life sentence. Our spines heal just like the rest of our bodies. If you have experienced a disc herniation or more commonly known as a slipped disc, chances are that it is completely healed and that you can get back to your favourite sport. In fact, I would definitely recommend it, to prevent it from happening in future.
What will stop my back pain from coming back again and stealing the show?
1. Gather information.
For your own perceptions and to prevent unnecessary anxiety, it's good to know how the system works. It's good to know about the physical aspects of the spine but also how pain is perceived by the body.
2. Put your current back pain in context.
As mentioned before, the chances that the old injury did not heal well are not likely. Seeing as we are very complex organisms, there might be many different reasons for the pain.
3. Overall health and wellbeing.
Manage your lifestyle to prevent pain. Eat healthy (lots of vegetables), drink water and move regularly. Movement can mean anything from walking to yoga to horse riding. Important to note that many different types of movement is better than only participating in one. You want as much variation in the movements that you do to keep your spine resilient.
4. Watch-out for stress.
Psychological and social stress can be a major contributor to back pain. If you want to know more about the triggers and managing stress, we will be posting about this in future.
5. Get support
The above-mentioned points might feel obvious to some but those with recurring back pain know the challenge of finding balance and connecting with the body in a meaningful way. That's why it's good to have regular contact with a professional, mentor or loved one to speak about the pain and how to best manage it.
Don't allow lower back pain to take a leading role in your life. Think critically about your perception of the pain you experience, and consider changing the aspects that we always thought were true but have been disproved:
- MRI scans are not the most trusted method for diagnosis: many people without pain also have pathological changes on MRI scans
- Your back does have the capacity to heal: not all back pain experienced throughout your life is because of one incident
- Psychology affects the pain we experience: not all back pain is purely physical in nature, our headspace also has an influence.
Remember to take a look at the other blog posts for inspiration to get moving behind your desk.