- Health: Condition Clinic

HELP AT HOME:Does your back ache?

Try these back-saving tips for care at home

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Back pain is the very common symptom of numerous ailments. It is frequently brought on by sudden injury or stress to the muscles, nerves, ligaments or bones of the back.

Back pain can also be caused by many other things, including curvature of the spine, cancer, a herniated (or "slipped") vertebral disk, poor posture, gynecological disorders, a kidney infection, osteoarthritis or osteoporosis. Back pain can become chronic.

People who are overweight are at a greater risk for acute or chronic back pain, as are those who do a lot of lifting or are active in sports. Nearly everyone is at risk for back pain at some point in his or her life.

Back pain shows up in different ways. Affected parts of the back may feel tender or sore to the touch, and the pain may increase with movement. Back pain can manifest as a burning sensation, or as a dull muscular ache. It can feel as though the vertebrae were scraping together, whether they are or not. Depending on its cause, back pain can range from mildly uncomfortable to completely disabling.

Most treatment for back pain involves nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications like aspirin or ibuprofen, and sometimes muscle relaxants as well. Depending on the problem, short bed rest or exercise may be prescribed. Massage and heating pads often help; chiropractic and acupuncture have also been used successfully in the treatment of back pain. In some cases, surgery may be considered as a last resort.

Bend at the knees when picking things up. (Don't lift with your back! Your legs are much stronger.) Keep your back straight when you lift.Maintain good posture and exercise to strengthen your stomach and back muscles.Keep yourself at the right body weight for your height. Being overweight can strain your back.WebMD terms and conditions.

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