BATON ROUGE, La – September is Pain Awareness Month, and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is sharing tips to help with the most common type of pain: lower-back pain.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), back pain is one of the main reasons people seek medical attention, with a quarter of U.S. adults reporting they have recently experienced lower-back pain.
“While accidents or falls can cause back injuries, most patients get lower-back pain as a result of strain or stress on the spine and back muscles. In those cases, back pain can usually be treated very effectively with rest, over-the-counter medicine and applying heat or ice,” said Blue Cross Medical Director Dr. Jeremy Wigginton.
Don’t assume you will need an imaging test or X-ray if you have back pain, Dr. Wigginton said. “For most types of back pain, these kinds of tests often don’t help your health care provider treat the pain or make it go away faster,” he said. “You can work with your provider to build healthy habits into your daily routine to prevent or improve back pain.”
Tips to Manage Back Pain
• Exercise regularly. People who make exercise a daily or most-days habit tend to have less back pain. People who sit for long periods of time without physical activity are at higher risk for back pain. So are “weekend warriors” who do long bursts of physical activity only one or two days a week. For the best back fitness, aim for 20-30 minutes of low-impact exercises like walking, swimming, bicycling or yoga at least five days a week.
• Avoiding heavy lifting or carrying. Be very careful when lifting or moving objects like boxes and furniture or carrying overloaded purses and backpacks – this can strain your back and lead to pain. Break the objects down into smaller bundles. Ask someone else for help if something is too heavy to move or carry alone. Always remember to lift up through your legs, not with your back.
• Get to or maintain a healthy weight. Extra pounds add pressure on your back and spine. Ask your health care provider to help you figure out your best weight range, based on your height, age and health factors.
• Quit or avoid smoking. Tobacco products restrict blood flow to your back and spinal area, which puts you at higher risk for back pain.
• Check in on your mental health. Stress, anxiety and depression are mental health conditions associated with physical symptoms like back pain. Staying on top of your mental health can improve your overall well-being and lower your risk for pain.
• Practice good posture. If you sit at a desk most of the day, protect your back. Get a chair that provides enough support. Take breaks for a couple of minutes every hour to stretch or move. Sit up straight, and position your computer monitor or other materials you’re using at a proper height so you’re not always reaching, bending down or hunching over.
Learn more tips for managing lower-back pain in this video (1:21).
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About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is committed to our mission to improve the health and lives of Louisianians. Founded in New Orleans in 1934, we are a tax-paying nonprofit health insurer with offices in every major region to serve our customers. We have been recognized for the past four years as an honoree of The Civic 50, named by Points of Light as one of the 50 most community-minded companies in the United States.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. We are a private mutual company, owned by our policyholders, with an independent Louisiana Board of Directors and no shareholders. We invite all Louisianians to visit our website at www.bcbsla.com or talk to us on social media @BCBSLA.