Back injury is one the most common medical complaints in the U.S.; 80% of Americans suffer from back pain at some point in their lives, including half of the working population. Although back pain can strike at any age, older adults are more likely to injure their back and experience long-lasting back pain.
The good news is that in most cases, back pain will heal with treatment and injury rehabilitation. Even if a back injury doesn’t heal completely, the worst symptoms can be alleviated, reducing the pain and allowing sufferers to resume their everyday lives.
What Causes Back Pain?
The back is a complex system of bones, joints, muscles, and ligaments. Damage or inflammation to any of these can result in back pain, although it’s often challenging to identify the cause.
Some of the most common back-pain culprits include:
- Straining of muscles and ligaments. Strains can be caused by anything from a poor sleeping or sitting position and bad posture to lifting heavy objects and repeated twisting movements. The risk of back strain is one reason manual workers are trained to face their work squarely rather than twist to the side.
- Damaged disks. Spinal disks are circular pads between the vertebrae, the main bones of your spine. Disks separate the vertebrae so they don’t rub together. Spinal disk injuries are a common cause of back injuries; they can slip out of place, herniate, rupture, or press against spinal nerves.
- Arthritis. Arthritis, particularly osteoarthritis, causes joints to become painful and stiff. Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage that protects the end of your bones breaks down, causing painful rubbing and stiffness.
These are among the most likely causes of back injury; however, persistent back pain can be caused by other diseases, including cancer. If you experience back pain that lasts longer than a few days, contact a medical professional for advice, particularly if the pain spreads beyond your back to your lower limbs or is accompanied by other symptoms, such as weakness or numbness in the limbs or weight loss.
Can You Fully Recover From a Back Injury?
Back injuries caused by strains to muscles and ligaments often heal completely with rehabilitation that conforms to a medically advised treatment program. More severe sprains and strains may recur after injury recovery, particularly when the behavior that caused the initial injury is repeated, but they will also heal given time and rest. Some causes of back pain, such as osteoarthritis, are unlikely to heal completely, but they can be treated to minimize pain and improve flexibility.
How Can You Speed Up Back Injury Recovery?
You have injured your back. What can you do to ensure you quickly make a full recovery? There is no easy answer to this question. It depends on the nature of the injury and your overall health. The optimal treatment for strains and sprains is not the same as for slipped disks and osteoarthritis.
Our best advice is to consult a medical professional, but for minor sprains and strains and many disk problems, the following may help you to relieve lower back pain at home and heal quickly.
- Don’t ignore the pain. If you continue the activity that caused the back injury, you’ll make it worse. Whether it was lifting, twisting, or spending long periods in a damaging position, you’ll heal faster if you change your behavior and avoid further damage.
- Sleep on your back on a firm mattress. Avoid lying on your front because it can make back pain worse. You should keep your spine in a neutral position, and you may find that a slight elevation of the upper body is helpful to relieve pressure. A home hospital bed with adjustable head and foot sections and a firm hospital bed mattress can support positions that put minimal pressure on your spine while helping you sleep comfortably.
- Consult a doctor. If your back pain lasts more than a few days, seek medical advice. Doctors and physiotherapists can diagnose the pain’s cause and suggest a back injury rehabilitation plan.
- Stay hydrated and eat a healthy, balanced diet. Dehydration and under-eating can affect muscle strength and make back pain worse.
- Engage in gentle exercise. Complete bed rest is rarely helpful for minor back injuries and can cause further loss of muscle strength. You shouldn’t put your back under more strain than necessary. But gentle activity will help you to maintain flexibility and strength and can prevent painful spasms.
If you have hurt your back, it’s normal to worry about the impact a back injury will have on your life. But most minor and many severe back injuries will heal with time and careful rehabilitation.
To learn more about how a home hospital bed could help you with your back injury recovery and rehabilitation, contact an adjustable bed expert today.