Back pain is a common phenomenon, but good information about it is rare. It's easy to be swept up in poor advice, confusing terminology, and uncertainty. As a back pain patient, it's important for you to take a deep breath, step back, and start from square one by getting informed. Whether you have a new diagnosis, or are exploring new options for a long-term case, you can benefit from the following tips for approaching your back pain.
1. Act sooner rather than later
Just like most other disease, back pain doesn't improve with waiting. You don't have to have money or even a doctor to get started on the right track, though! Some ways to act quickly on your back pain include finding a doctor (see #2), finding gentle exercises that relieve your back (see #3), and continuing to learn about why your pain might have happened. You can also learn more from us -- get started today with 10 Tips for Relieving Back Pain, or visit our Sciatica Resource Center.
2. Get a complete team on your side
You should find a primary care physician who is committed to understanding your unique needs and answering questions. Once you find one, or if you have one, it's time to ask them about referrals to specialists or other practitioners who can help handle your case. It's normal for doctors to partner with a team, so it's okay to ask if they have suggestions for more professionals who can help you!
An ideal complete rehabilitation for a back pain patient might include their regular doctor, a neurologist, a physical therapist, a chiropractor, a massage therapist, a personal trainer, and a pilates instructor. Breaking the cycle of pain requires retraining, and there isn't one fix that will solve your complicated pathology in a day.
3. Find comfortable movement activities
Bodies are meant to be moved, and generally, inactivity makes muscles and bones unhappy. Much pain is related to failure to use the body properly, and special core exercises are one way to start approaching this. By all means, rest is important, but in order to relieve your back pain for now and in the long run, you'll need to find ways to move your back so that it can get important blood flow, nutrition, hydration, and relaxation.
4. Focus on your plan, not your problem
MRIs and xrays are important tools, but in the end, they're just pictures. It's easy to get bogged down by labels and discouraged by diagnoses, but what matters much more is focusing on your goals. If you're preoccupied with your pain and it's causing you to have difficulty being motivated to work toward solutions and changes, talk with your doctor about a counseling referral.
5. Be open to non-surgical treatments and possibly lifestyle changes
Surgery seems like a quick fix to some, and a last resort to others, but at the end of the day it's just like any other treatment in medicine: appropriate for some cases, and not for others. Manual therapies, nutritional approaches, and many other options are available to you. Good practitioners recognize that no single treatment solves all problems, and work together to help patients as completely as possible. Visit our About page to learn more about the variety of specialists practicing at the Illinois Back Institute.
Back pain is no small deal, but hopefully you feel better armed to conquer it. Give us a shout for a free back pain consultation so we can help you learn more! We hope you feel encouraged about getting the most out of the options available to you.