10 TOP TIPS FOR PAIN MANAGEMENT
Whether it be the odd twinge, more generalised grumbles and aches or an acute onset of pain, these top tips are exactly what you need to take back control.
Our aims are to reduce the inflammation, ease the pain, and start to move better.
Making these principles a part of your everyday lifestyle will help to prevent pain and injury becoming a regular thing.
1. Keep moving
A certain degree of rest is encouraged but gentle movement performed at regular intervals is preferable over complete bed rest or being sat for a prolonged period. Lack of movement will make your back pain worse.
2. Practice good posture
Good posture is essential in all aspects of life; sitting, standing, lifting and most definitely whilst exercising. Becoming more aware of your posture will prevent you from putting unnecessary strain on your spine.
- Keep an eye out for these common bad habits: slouching at your desk, feet up to one side on the sofa, holding the phone between your neck and shoulder, sleeping on your front.
3. See your Osteopath
Don't wait for a small problem to become a big problem, book in to see your Osteopath early on to reduce the risk of further injury. The most important step in your recovery journey is to figure out WHY you have back pain and the rest follows.
Osteopaths are experts at the diagnosis and treatment of musculoskeletal aches and pains, we are here to help so please take advantage of this!
4. Know your limits
When it comes to exercise or even normal daily activities it is important to listen to your body and not to push yourself too hard if you are in discomfort. Rest and recovery are just as important as exercise.
Don't feel guilty about taking some downtime when you need it most, the gym can wait and the garden doesn't have to be perfectly pruned all the time. Perhaps use this time to see your therapist, take an Epsom salt bath or try some gentle stretching.
5. Apply heat or ice
Hot or cold compression packs applied to the area can be a really effective way to get some short-term pain relief, control local inflammation and soothe tight muscles. You can buy these packs at most local pharmacies however a hot water bottle or a bag of frozen peas wrapped in a towel work just as well.
6. Sleep with a pillow between your knees
Many patients find that sleeping with a pillow between the knees during episodes of back pain can reduce their symptoms and help them to get a better night’s sleep. The pillow supports the top leg and corrects spinal alignment, stopping you from over rotating in the lower back and pelvis as you sleep.
7. Avoid heavy or awkward lifting
If your neck, back, shoulder, hip (etc) is feeling a little ropey and out of sorts its common sense to treat your body kindly during this time. Heavy lifting and lifting in awkward positions will place an additional load on your spine and the supporting structures which may be vulnerable if you are already experiencing back pain. Try to avoid this for the time being as it may aggravate your condition.
8. Do not 'google it'
An innocent online search of your symptoms can very quickly lead to an afternoon filled with anxiety and hypochondria. My advice is don't even go there, save yourself the stress and leave the diagnosis to the professionals.
9. Strengthen your core
Lower back pain can often be caused by and result in weak core muscles. Developing strength and stability in these muscles is essential for a healthy lower back, long term pain relief and injury prevention. Your therapist can advise you on which exercises will be suitable for you.
10. Stay fit and healthy: Body, mind and soul.
Regular exercise, maintaining a healthy body weight, frequent stretching and strengthening, keeping hydrated and a well-balanced diet are all highly important factors in keeping the body in good working condition, thus minimising the chance of injury.
We also know that pain is highly influenced by psycho-social factors. The presence of stress is proven to alter the interpretation of pain signals within our brain, so when we think about pain management and the preventative measures we can take, this must include addressing our mental health.
- NHS, 2017, Overview Back Pain, viewed 09/04/2019, https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/back-pain/
- John Schubbe, 2004, Identifying incorrect posture, Veritas Health, viewed 09/04/2019, https://www.spine-health.com/wellness/ergonomics/identifying-incorrect-posture
- NICE, 2016, Low back pain and sciatica in over 16's: assessment and management, NICE, viewed 09/04/2019, https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/ng59/chapter/Recommendations