Chronic pain has become so common, I think we take it for granted as part of the human condition; just another thing we all have to learn to live with. But pain is how your body tells you that something’s wrong and it shouldn’t be ignored. Even if the pain seems to be acute – like a crick in your neck or a tweak in your lower back or stiffness in your hips – it can be a sign of a much larger problem. Since your spine is connected to the rest of your body, more and more research is surfacing that suggests that the health of your spine is very closely related to the health of the rest of your body – and vice versa.
For example, chronic back pain – or really any chronic pain – has been linked to depression. Yes, even your mind may be using your body’s pain signals to try to tell you something is wrong. This works in the opposite direction as well. Chronic pain can end up causing depression. While everyone has good days and bad days, depression is much more severe. Depression includes symptoms like feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, sadness and guilt. People suffering from depression may also have difficulty concentrating, loss of appetite, have difficulty sleeping or may sleep too much. Most severely, depression can cause thoughts of suicide.
As you can see, chronic pain is nothing to brush under the rug. Fortunately, you don’t have to continue to live with the pain. Here are ways that WebMD suggests to alleviate back pain:
- Sleep Better: Back pain can make it difficult to sleep and then sleep deprivation can exacerbate back pain. It’s an unfortunate vicious cycle. To sleep better with less pain, relieve the pressure on your back by sleeping on your side with a pillow between your knees and enough support under your head to keep your neck in line with your back. Avoid sleeping on your back since it can add an extra 50 pounds of pressure to your spine. If you must sleep on your back, put a pillow under your thighs.
- See a Professional: A chiropractor or physical therapist will be able to show you exercises and movements that will be kinder to your back and help decrease pain. They will also be able to monitor any changes in your back pain and help you stay on top of any tweaks that may turn into bigger problems if not watched closely.
- Get Up and Move: new studies now show that the best thing you can do for your back is to use it. If your back is feeling stiff and achy, try going for a walk, swimming, yoga or some other low impact exercise to get your blood flowing to that area. The increased blood flow will help to reduce inflammation which is the leading cause of stiffness and pain.
- Ice and Heat: Regularly applying ice to the painful area will help to reduce inflammation. After a few days of icing, try switching to heat. The heat will help to relax your muscles, increase blood flow and relieve any tension that may have built up around the painful area.
Always consult your chiropractor or primary care physician for all your health related advice.
Image Credit: Chiropractor by Ryan Weisgerber. Used under a creative commons license.
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