-- Eat right and exercise for 30 minutes on most, preferably all, days of
the week. Excessive pounds strain back muscles.
-- Take time for yourself. Stress causes your back muscles to become
tense and can further increase existing pain.
-- Smoking not only doubles the risk of heart attack, but also reduces
blood flow to the lower spine, weakens bones and hinders the healing
-- Back pain becomes more common with age, due in part to loss of bone
strength. Make sure your diet includes the calcium your bones need to
prevent osteoporosis, which can lead to fractures.
-- As soon as possible after a back injury or the onset of pain, apply a
cold compress to numb the affected area several times a day for up to
20 minutes. After two to three days, switch to heat to relax tight
muscles and increase blood flow. The combination of hot and cold may
help reduce inflammation and pain.
-- Too much bed rest can actually slow the healing process. Go about your
normal activities, but avoid anything that aggravates the pain.
-- If back pain persists after several days, see your physician. If the
pain is due to an injury, or if you experience numbness in your legs or
simply can't move, see a doctor as soon as possible. A physical exam
and a review of your medical history will help your healthcare provider
diagnose the problem. Additional tests may be necessary. Fortunately,
fewer than five percent of back pain sufferers require surgery to heal.
Though a common health problem, back pain can be avoided. Take proper
care to ensure your back stays healthy, because the back serves an
essential role in mobility and protects the spine, nerves, muscles and
ligaments. If you experience back problems, be careful not to overexert
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