Preventing Back Pain
About 80% of adults will suffer significant low back pain at some time in their lives due to an injury at work, at home or at play. Following these lifestyle choices can help you minimize your chance of suffering back pain or injury.
Learn good posture. Slouching strains the lower back. At work, be sure your chair and working surfaces support your back and encourage good posture.
Use proper lifting techniques. Take your time, bend at the knees, don’t twist your body, move close to the surface on which you will be placing the object, and use assistive devices for heavy objects whenever possible.
If you smoke, stop. Smoking has been linked to low bone density, chronic low back pain (especially in smokers with chronic coughs), disc damage, and poor healing.
Exercise regularly. Strengthening and conditioning exercises keep the muscles of the back strong, flexible and less prone to injury. Certain exercises may not be appropriate if you have an existing spinal condition or other health problems. Consult with a spine specialist to find out which exercises are safe and most appropriate for you.
Eat right. Good nutrition keeps your spine healthy and can reduce chronic pain or disability if you suffer from a spine condition.
Maintain a healthy weight. Excess weight, especially around the midsection, puts a strain on the back muscles as well as the entire lower body.
Stay positive. Studies have shown that people who are happy with their jobs and home life are less likely to experience back pain and recover faster than people who are unhappy.
Common Medications for Pain
Many kinds of medications can be used to reduce spine and orthopedic pain, from over-the-counter drugs to powerful opioids. Some common types of pain medications include:
For severe acute or post-operative pain, opioid analgesics (also known as narcotics) may be necessary. They include codeine (Tylenol #3), hydrocodone (Vicodin) and oxycodone (Percocet, Oxycontin). These drugs can be very effective, but they also have risks and side effects. The body may build a tolerance to them quickly; therefore, they are generally only prescribed for short periods of time (usually less than two weeks).
Ultram (tramadol) is a pain reliever used for moderate to severe low back pain, whether it is acute, chronic, post-operative or intermittent. Its strength lies between acetaminophen and opioid analgesics. It is a non-opioid, non habit-forming medication and the body does not build up a tolerance to it.
Muscle relaxants can help relieve low back pain associated with muscle spasms. Common muscle relaxants include metaxalone (Skelaxin) and cyclodenzaprine (Flexeril).
Anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs or oral steroids) may be given for a short time to relieve low back pain. These medications work by reducing inflammation (swelling) and pain. Common anti-inflammatory medications include diclofenac (Voltaren), naproxen sodium (Naprosyn) and meloxicam (Mobic).
The medication(s) that your doctor recommends, will depend on several factors including; the intensity and cause of your pain, your response to other treatments, and other health conditions that you may have.