How do I manage my back pain on a daily basis?
Brian Yee PT, MPhty, OCS, FAAOMPT
First, remain positive. Many people dealiing with chronic back pain can become discouraged and even depressed that their pain does not let them do what they want to do. This can lead to a fear-avoidance belief that takes them away from doing activities that they physically should be able to do.
From there it is important to establish 2-3 activites during the day that cause back pain – such as sitting, standing, or household activities such as vacuuming. It is just as important to determine the time in which the pain begins. Many patients will complain of pain with a prolonged/sustained activity after 10-20 minutes. What this means is that the muscle endurance of your body is fatiguing quickly and pain begins 10-20 minutes later as increase stress to your spine is occuring.
Like a marathon runner who is hurting and conditioned to run 2 miles. The runner knows well enough not to run 20 miles thereafter, as they will end up hurting themselves. They will instead train to run 2-3 miles until they can condition themselves to increase their distance without hurting worse.
Likewise, with chronic back pain, it is important to stay active, but stay just short of the time that your pain exacerbates itself. As a physical therapist can teach you ways to decrease your pain and improve your stability and movement, slowly you will be able to improve your time in activities that used to hurt you early on. As things progress, you will gain the confidence to do things you couldn’t do before with less pain. We call this ‘pacing’.