If you have low back pain that will not go away, be sure to avoid these all-important top 5 mistakes.
These back pain mistakes are based on my 22-year journey and battle against Degenerative Disc Disease along with some intensive research on treating low back pain.
- It’s a humbling experience, I must admit. However, accepting that you have a chronic health problem with limitations is a huge key to battling disc-related low back pain
- A negative hopeless mindset will hinder your efforts to find solutions and healing.
- Scar tissue can form when delaying treatment. Additionally, nerve, muscle, and connective-tissue damage can take place given enough time with no medical help.
Are you feeling some back pain that won’t go away and you’re worried you’ve done something serious to it?
If you are new to back pain, there are some mistakes to avoid that will help put you on the road to back recovery faster. By learning from others’ mistakes, you can make your battle against back pain less frustrating, expensive, and time-consuming.
Let’s dive right in.
MISTAKE #1 TO AVOID WITH LOW BACK PAIN:
NOT SEEKING MEDICAL HELP SOON ENOUGH
The worst thing you can do if back pain is lingering for days with no improvement is delay seeking medical attention.
It’s natural to tell yourself “I just tweaked my back a bit, its happened before and it will go away.”
You can damage your back further if you carry on as usual and don’t know what is wrong with it. I did this myself. After my initial injury, I kept personal training and lifting weights while I suffered little micro spasms. I was six weeks away from signing a pro ice hockey contract and had to stay in shape, but it was stupid none the less as I look back on it.
Scar tissue can form when delaying treatment. Additionally, nerve, muscle, and connective tissue damage can take place given enough time with no medical help.
Moreover, research shows that early medical intervention can lead to positive treatment results. If you get ahead of the curve and get an examination early on, you can arm yourself with knowledge of your condition and get a jump start on treatment options.
It’s smart to get in to see a doctor and get some testing and imaging done so that you can get on with your recovery. Many back pain sufferers are too proud to go to the doctor. Similarly, they enter into denial or put off dealing with it. I know this is expensive and time-consuming, but ultimately it will be less expensive and time-consuming than if you wait too long.
If this is you, try not to ignore it, downplay it, or minimize the pain hoping it will go away on its own. This would be a mistake.
In conclusion, if your low back pain is clearly not getting better after a week or so with the usual at-home treatment options, it’s probably time to get some help.
MISTAKE #2 TO AVOID WITH LOW BACK PAIN:
NOT MAKING LIFESTYLE ADJUSTMENTS
This is a classic mistake with many back pain sufferers and newly diagnosed disc pain patients: living, working, and playing like you did when you had a good back. Grant it, some people are in so much pain that they can hardly get out of bed. I’m talking about people who are still able to go to work and even recreate to an extent. Their quality of life is very negatively impacted by back pain but they still have not made lifestyle modifications to help with their back pain.
if I could give one piece of advice to any newly diagnosed back pain sufferer, it would be to understand that you are playing by new rules from now on when you have a serious lumbar disc or nerve diagnosis. You have to change your lifestyle because you have a structural instability in your back. The building has a crack in the foundation.
Specifically, this might mean losing weight or changing what sports and activities you engage in. It probably means you need to ask for help when lifting heavy objects. Simply put, you have to put some self-imposed limitations on yourself. Or, stated in a more positive way, begin getting wise about how you treat your back and what you put it through on a daily basis.
Here is a great resource if you are an outdoors person who has a bad back. Check this link out on a blog post that I did.
Since this is all new to you, it would be beneficial to consult with an experienced professional. That individual can teach you new body movements and tactics that can prevent you from further injury. A personal trainer, chiropractor, or physical therapist for example will be able to educate you on how to live, work, and play with a bad back.
For example, here are a few START and STOP suggestions that almost certainly would need to be implemented with a new diagnosis of chronic low back pain or undiagnosed back pain that persists.
Things to START and STOP When Back Pain Persists
- Stop lifting and twisting. For example the laundry basket, or heavy objects around the garage or at work.
- Stop lifting from the ground with poor form or posture.
- Stop bending and reaching from the torso.
- Start wearing a back belt or brace when standing for prolonged periods of time or lifting.
- Stop sitting at work with crappy chairs and pain-inducing computer setup.
- Start investing time and money in exercise equipment, personal training, or physical therapy.
- Start performing a daily stretching routine, or taking time to stretch when you are overexerting your back at work or play.
- Start designing a preventative back care routine that includes massage, acupuncture, heat, ice, and other therapeutic techniques that will keep your back feeling good.
- Stop sitting for prolonged periods of time in the same position without taking breaks or stretching.
Some new terms in your vocabulary will have to be ergonomics, physical therapy, and biomechanics. If you want less back pain you will simply have to sit, stand, work, and play in a fashion that does not put strain on your weakened back.
It’s a humbling experience, I must admit. However, accepting that you have a chronic health problem with new limitations is a huge key to battling disc-related low back pain. It doesn’t mean giving up or losing hope of recovering. Quite the opposite. It means getting serious and strategic about how you are going to dig yourself out of this hole and reclaim your healthy active life.
Check out this youtube video on stretching to relieve back pain
Click here: https://youtu.be/7mzLYItyK-A
MISTAKE #3 TO AVOID WITH LOW BACK PAIN:
GETTING BAD MEDICAL ADVICE
Just like everything in life, there are good and bad healthcare providers. Some can help you and some can hurt you. This isn’t a mistake that you set out to make on purpose of course, but you can and should try to avoid making it.
The worst thing about my disc pain treatment was the hamster wheel of treatment options that were useless, time-consuming, and expensive. For me, it was like a game of Whac-a-mole, duck duck goose, or a beach ball game. A lot of bouncing around with no results. I had multi-level disc damage at L4 and L5/S1 which made it a bit tricky, but I still found it a very inefficient treatment experience that took years. On the flip side, I made a lot of my own mistakes with my low back pain recovery efforts.
The very first surgeon that I consulted for my disc pain said he could fit me in for an operation the following week, the next one wasn’t sure and the third said definitely not. Get opinions from at least 3 surgeons before you make any big decisions. Also, any trustworthy surgeon will ask if you have already tried other less invasive treatments up to this point. So make sure that you have tried as many treatment approaches as possible such as physical therapy, acupuncture, core strengthening, chiropractic, yoga, and others.
I’m not for or against surgery, but I do know that there are plenty of people who thought it was their only option but managed to find another way out of it and recover. Nothing against physicians at all but the success statistics for some back surgeries are not exactly comforting. I touch on it here in my Newsletter called Back Pain Wise Newsletter. Consider subscribing if you want to stay on top of the latest news and research with low back pain, specifically DDD back pain. Click this link.
I chose the third surgeon as my go-to guy, and have consulted him on and off for over twenty years. He has steered me in the right direction (away from fusion surgery) despite me wondering occasionally if this guy actually has performed any surgeries with his very honest approach. He always suggested that I try other options first, and then if I was still miserable and in pain, we could discuss surgery.
Thanks to him, I’ve been able to live a healthy active life using other treatment methods. Lastly, he had the personality, character, and qualifications that made me feel confident that I could put the most important thing in my life in his capable hands.
We found a less invasive procedure called IDET (Intradermal Electrotherapy) and it reduced my back pain by 50%. That in combination with a daily strengthening and stretching routine has changed my life and helped me survive these last 22 years.
In short, I would highly recommend doing your research online and speak with people who have been down this road. Don’t take peoples’ word for it -trust, but verify even if they have initials behind their name like MD.
MISTAKE #4 TO AVOID WITH LOW BACK PAIN:
NOT IMPLEMENTING A BACK CARE RECOVERY PROGRAM SOON ENOUGH
This mistake is the important sister to Mistake #2, failing to make any lifestyle adjustments for your back pain. If you took the advice in Mistake #1, then you are under medical care of some kind and have likely been advised to start some kind of self-care back program in addition to drugs or surgery, for example.
This back care program should consist of daily and weekly activities designed to both prevent future back pain and improve your current symptoms. I’m talking about diet, nutrition, exercise, stretching, core strengthening, and other modalities.
Back Pain Treatment Suggestions For Your Recovery Plan
- Physical Therapy
- Water Therapy or Aerobics
- Personal Training
- Core Strengthening Exercises
- Aerobic Exercise Training
- Pilates or Yoga
- Acupuncture, Massage, Stretching
- Heat, Ice, Braces and other self-care products
- Nutrition for weight loss or reducing inflammation
- Mindset and Spiritual Training
At Back Pain Wise, we recommend designing your recovery around 3 main pillars; Strong Body, Strong Mind, and Strong Spirit. As I look back at the formula for my personal recovery, all my beneficial efforts and actions could be placed into one of these pillars. The point is, your chances of recovering are greater if you strategically implement a self-care low back recovery program and stick to it for ..the rest of your life.
Again, business as usual, will not help you live a pain-free active lifestyle if you have chronic disc or nerve damage in your back or if you’ve had surgery to repair said damage.
Here is an important piece of advice I stumbled upon in my research relating to the importance of finding the right person or educational content when it comes to core strengthening.
Sperling Medical Group says, “At the start of lower back pain, many people think that if they exercise and strengthen their back muscles, the pain will eventually go away. So they try doing isolated back routines. This may only put more stress on muscles that are becoming damaged, leading to worse problems. Instead, strengthening the core muscles beneath the more superficial abdominal muscles that are associated with a “six-pack” will help support the spine and pelvis, and take a load off the lower back. There are exercises that can be done slowly and gently, such as pelvic tilts or cat stretches. It’s worth seeing a knowledgeable exercise trainer or physical therapist in order to learn a few simple exercises and make sure you’re doing them correctly.” Here is the link if you would like to read the full article.
MISTAKE #5 TO AVOID WITH LOW BACK PAIN:
A NEGATIVE MINDSET
Here is a good one; “Disappointments are inevitable, discouragement is a choice.” –Charles Stanley.
If this is you below, we have work to do.
My wife is so negative…
We all know that our actions follow our attitudes. Essential to battling any chronic illness is a belief that you will get better. Hope that you will find a solution and recover and it won’t always be like this. Faith in God or your higher power that He will answer your prayers, be with you, and guide you through this dark valley.
It’s a marathon, a long game. And although nobody can be Mr. Happy Pants every day of their lives, your positive attitude has to somehow outweigh your negative attitude over the long haul for you to win and find relief for your back pain.
A negative hopeless mindset will hinder your efforts to push forward and find solutions and healing.
We have all been there. But don’t stay there. Hopelessness and negativity lead to wanting to lay around and rest, sleep, and feel sorry for yourself. Additionally, remaining inactive, which is very bad for back pain will only prolong your misery (unless you’re in acute pain of course).
Perhaps you would agree that at some basic level (and there is enough research out there to suggest as much) the physical, emotional, and mental aspects of a human being are all closely interconnected. Maybe you have witnessed or heard of cancer survivors who have far outlasted their terminal diagnosis or even beaten their diagnosis due to a positive mindset and a “never give up” attitude. They shocked doctors and beat the odds. I think there is no better proof that our physical, emotional, and mental aspects are all connected than this example, so why should it be any different for our chronic back pain?
Somehow, you have to develop a persistent, focused strategic back care recovery plan on a pillar of positivity. And with a belief that somebody in the medical community can help you. The answers, healing, and solutions are out there.
How To Develop A Positive Mindset When Your Back Pain Persists
My last point is this: you cannot do this alone. That is, you cannot conjure up a Mr. Rogers’ attitude every day when your back is killing you and you are miserable and having spasms every two weeks. Ultimately, I believe that you are incapable of getting through it on your own strength and smarts.
For me, I had to rely on God. I had to draw upon a higher and more powerful strength to enable me to push through, and not be anxious when things were not going my way and healing had not yet come. When you know you are in more capable hands, it’s easier to remain strong and to have a positive mindset.
As I look back at my success formula for improving my back pain and achieving a stable back, I’m glad I chose to develop and strengthen what I now call the Strong-Spirit Pillar in my back care recovery plan.
Convinced? So now you have to be tactical about how you will achieve a positive mindset.
Here is a brainstorming list to get you started on this path so you don’t make mistakes with your back pain:
- Write down a list of 20 meaningful and inspiring affirmations (bible verses, quotes, positive thoughts, and attitudes). Review them daily or every other day. They will be your “mindset anchor.”
- Find somebody who has walked this road and won. Connect with them on Facebook or in person. Use them as a mentor and accountability partner in your journey.
- Read the bible. If you don’t believe in the bible, read your higher power book.
- Don’t hang out with negative people who are not interested in developing a positive attitude. “You’re the average of the 5 people that you spend the most time with.” – Jim Rohn
- Read positive and inspirational blogs and books.
- Listen to positive and encouraging music. I listen to KLOVE.
- Listen to a podcast on back pain that is motivational and educational.
I hope this gets you started in the right direction.
In closing, staying positive, seeking the support and encouragement of like-minded people in your boat is imperative to back pain recovery.
If you have low back pain that persists, I hope this blog post will help you avoid some of the top mistakes that can derail your recovery efforts.
I hope you find an idea or two in here that you have not thought of, and please send me more of your great ideas and comments to share with this unique community.
You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for spending your valuable time reading this.
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DISCLAIMER: All content and media on the Back Pain WISE website are created and published online for informational purposes only and are based on our personal experience. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always consult your doctor before beginning this or any exercise program. Back Pain WISE is not liable or responsible for any injury incurred. Use this information at your own risk.