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Prevention, The Best Treatment for Back Pain

Each year, back pain occurs in 15 to 45 percent of Americans according to the Department of Health and Human Services’ Healthy People 2010: Arthritis, Osteoporosis, and Chronic Back Conditions report.  "Back pain can occur as a result of bad personal health habits and personal risk factors such as smoking, excessive weight gain, lack of exercise, lack of flexibility, and unnecessary strain on the back," says Craig M. Wax, D.O., an osteopathic family physician practicing in Mullica Hill, NJ.

Depending on the cause, back pain can occur in different areas of the back while inflicting different types and degrees of pain.  "Some patients experience the occasional dull pain," explains Dr. Wax.  "Others suffer from constant agonizing pain making even the simplest movements difficult.  Either way, both types prohibit people from completing normal daily activities."

To reduce the risk of suffering from back pain, patients must understand what causes unnecessary strain on the back.  Once patients understand the causes, they can figure out ways to eliminate them from their lives.

Years of bad posture are the cause of back pain for many.  Practicing the habit of sitting up straight can prevent back pain, as well as using correct form when lifting heavy items or when completing daily tasks.  "Whether you work construction or spend your days typing on a computer, the way you sit, twist, bend, lift things, and even relax may either cause or prevent back pain," notes Dr. Wax.   "Those who practice good posture when sitting, use their legs when lifting, and eliminate awkward twisting and bending throughout the day will most likely experience the least amount of back pain."

Other tips for preventing or minimizing the occurrence of back pain include refraining from excessive strenuous activities, and limiting the amount of time spent performing heavy manual labor and participating in strenuous sports.

If avoiding strenuous activities and taking preventive measures do not prevent back pain, or an existing condition worsens, a visit to the physician’s office is necessary.  After examining a patient with chronic back pain, a physician can determine if surgery, medication or other forms of treatment may solve the problem.  Muscle relaxers or pain relievers may help to relieve the pain.  In some cases, surgery might be needed to repair damaged muscle or tissue responsible for causing pain.

Another form of treatment that can be offered to patients by osteopathic physicians (D.O.s) is called osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT).  "OMT is a hands on-on treatment where D.O.s use their hands to examine your back and other parts of your body such as joints, tendons, ligaments, and muscles, for pain and restriction during motion that could signal an injury or impaired function," describes Dr. Wax.  "OMT can be helpful in relieving back pain as well as relieving discomfort and musculoskeletal abnormalities associated with a number of disorders including asthma, carpal tunnel syndrome, menstrual pain, sinus disorders, and migraines."

A study published in The New England Journal of Medicine in 1999 reported that patients receiving OMT for low back pain required significantly less medication and less physical therapy than those who didn’t receive OMT.

"Regardless of the method of treatment your physician chooses for your situation, practicing healthy habits and taking preventive measures will reduce your chances of suffering from back pain whether you are 5 years old or 75 years old," explains Dr. Wax.  "Taking care of your body before a problem appears is always the best medicine."

Craig M. Wax, DO, LLC of Mullica Hill, NJ provides information on health, nutrition, family medicine, preventive medicine, wellness, natural treatments, alternative medicine, integrative medicine, osteopathic medicine and just plain common sense.
Craig M. Wax, D.O., L.L.C. © 2014 ~ All Rights Reserved