If you’ve ever had back pain, you know how debilitating it can be, making daily life almost impossible at the time.
“It can keep people from getting in and out of bed without extreme pain, or making it where the person has to mentally prepare for how they are going to complete a task. Getting up from and down to a chair can be so severely painful it takes your breath away. Going to work and taking care of children could be next to impossible,” says Dillon Olivieri, PT DPT, a physical therapist and office leader at Buffalo Rehab Group.
Research shows around 80% of people will experience some type of back pain during their lives, with some studies indicating up to 23% of the adult population worldwide suffers from chronic low back pain. Back pain is the leading cause of work-loss days: One analysis found that nearly 63 million Americans reported a recent episode of back pain, which contributes the 83 million days of work that lost every year due to employees calling out because of back pain.
As frequent as back injuries are, Olivieri adds, “it is likely even more common that almost any person you come across will have had some form of tightness or discomfort in their back that goes away quick and is left unreported.”
Many can cause back pain, including a strain, injury, or overuse, or medical conditions like arthritis, disc herniations, instability and stenosis.
Whether your pain is dull and achy or sharp and radiating, relief is possible. Immediately after an injury, rest, physical therapy and medication all can help. A healthy and active lifestyle help as well.
Stretches to reduce back pain
If your back pain lingers, try gently stretching your way to some relief from the pain, numbness, tingling and weakness.
But Olivieri reminds people, “each type of back pain is different and will require different types of stretches.”
He says these are a few stretches that can help with different conditions:
For stenosis and arthritis, stretches like bending over in a chair or child’s pose would be a good place to start.
For disc herniations, lying flat on your stomach and cobra pose would be a good place to start.
With patients experiencing instability, child’s pose or a sink stretch are best for beginners.
Check out some of these additional stretches that you can do daily to exercise your back, prevent issues and alleviate pain.
While you can get some relief at home, experts say it is important to get a professional evaluation if the pain lingers.
“It is important to identify the specific type of low back pain a person is experiencing. A person trying to address it themselves could potentially lead to increasing pain and debilitation if the person is not certain on the type of back pain they are experiencing. Physical therapists are experts of the body and the spine is at the core of our knowledge. We can quickly get a person back on their feet and be able to return to normal daily and recreational activities,” says Olivieri.
When you are in pain, it can feel like relief never comes soon enough. How soon after the pain sets in can a person expect to feel relief?
“People can get relief as soon as the first time they come in to see a physical therapist. The tools given by your PT will help you to manage your back pain throughout the process,” says Olivieri.
But remember, relief is gradual. While you might feel well enough to get back to your normal routine and activities, It could take up to 12 weeks to fully recover from back pain.