Backache is as common an ailment as a headache or a common cold. It is estimated that absence from work is more common in patients suffering from backache than from any other disease. Statistics show that 24 per cent of absenteeism at work due to any disease is due to backache. Most backache sufferers either switch over to light work or do not work at all.

Interestingly enough, only human beings suffering from backaches, for it are a complaint resulting from modernization. Modern man, who leads a cushioned life, sits and sleeps on foamy mattresses, is more prone to backaches. Lack of exercise adds to the problem, leading to a paunch which weakens abdominal muscles and gives rise to a faulty posture which often results in backache.

Every patient of backache is different from the other and so also symptoms differ from one patient to another. Among the common symptoms are pains, together with stiffness. Coughing and sneezing together with bending and twisting makes the pain worse. Lift in heavy objects: keep your back straight. Bend your knees and let your legs do the work; they are stronger than your back. Test the heaviness of a load before your life it and when in doubt get help.

Footwear: avoid high heels. The higher they are the more they force your stance into an unnatural position that strains your back. Wear low heeled, comfortable shoes and try to stand correctly.

Sitting properly: select a firm, high-backed chair whenever possible. If you want to slump, do not slump in the chair, lie down. If you must sit for hour on end, as in a long drive, use a cushion to support the small of your back.

Back support in bed: sleep on a fairly hard (orthopedic) bed and mattress or put a stiff board under the mattress you already have. The bed should give you constant support all the way down your back, so that it keeps your spine straight. To aid this, use only a single, relatively flat pillow.

Weight control: if you are overweight, try to slim down. Fat people often have backaches because of the added burden their backs must carry. Self-help for backaches:

Whatever the cause of your backache, there are measures you can take to ease pain and speed healing. Apply local heat to ease pain, for instance by means of a hot water bottle wrapped in a towel.

Lie on your back (or in whatever position is most comfortable) for as long as you can, on a bed with a fairly hard mattress or on an ordinary bed with a stiff board under the mattress. Rest allows the intervertebral discs and ligaments to soften and thus increases the chances of recovery. So stay in bed as long as you can, if your backache persists for more than three or four days consult your doctor.

Article extracted from this publication >>  July 17, 1987