Hi, everyone! I’m Rosie and I’ve been a registered nurse for several years now. My friend Jane asked me to write a piece on how to get rid of back pain based on my own experiences.
If there’s anybody who knows about back pain, it’s a nurse. This is because we carry a lot of (heavy) patients and although we’re taught the right way to maneuver, sometimes it still takes a toll on us.
More than 50% of nurses experience chronic back pain and 38% of nurses take time off due to musculoskeletal injuries. And if that’s not enough, 12% of nurses leave the profession just because of back pains. As a nurse, learning how to deal with it is a must.
Here are my personal tips on how to get rid of back pain.
My Top 6 Tips for Reducing Back Pain
1 – Don’t slouch
This one is pretty basic but a lot of us slouch more often than not. With so many things to finish, we don’t always have the time to keep our posture in check.
If this is you, it’s time to put a stop to this bad habit.
You see, the joints in your lower back contain a good amount of fluid to make movements smoother. If you sit for too long, the fluid gets squeezed out.
And if you slouch, the rate at which the fluid leaves your joints becomes faster. Once there’s not enough fluid, the joints will get brittle and be prone to damage.
2 – Be more aware
Slouching isn’t the only thing that can make your back ache when you’re at work. It can also be triggered whenever you lift, push, or pull heavy objects.
When you can’t avoid moving a heavy weight or doing strenuous activities, pay more attention to how you’re carrying out the tasks. If you are lifting a heavy object, use your leg muscles and not the ones on your back. Get help if you need it and use assistive devices whenever possible like your child’s toy cart or a bag with wheels.
3 – Keep moving
Keeping a regular exercise routine can strengthen the muscles on your back. It can also help you be more flexible so you’re less likely to injure yourself while at work.
But, there’s one problem.
How can you squeeze in a full workout routine into your busy schedule?
Well, you don’t always have to do an elaborate routine. You can do wall sits, hamstring stretches and pelvic tilts before you head out for your shift. These exercises can mobilize, strengthen and stretch the lower back.
4 – Soothe pain with cold and heat therapy
Don’t underestimate how a cold/hot pack can soothe away your pain. After all, it’s one of the things we advise our patients to do when they’re experiencing the same thing.
Cold therapy can help reduce inflammation which is why it’s effective for any type of back pain. You can think of it as a local anesthetic that keeps your nerves from causing discomfort.
Heat therapy, on the other hand, can increase blood flow to the affected area. It stops the pain signal from reaching your brain as it promotes healing.
5 – Get enough sleep
Amazingly, sleep and pain are actually interrelated. You see, when you lack sleep, it changes the way you perceive pain. Your tolerance lowers and your ability to function decreases.
One good way to start is to keep your bedroom free from clutter and stress.. You should also establish a better bedtime routine. Create a relaxing ritual that will signal your brain that it’s time to sleep. For example, I use an aromatherapy diffuser. I pair it with essential oils that help with insomnia. This is especially helpful when I have to do night shifts.
And while you’re on that, you can reassess your sleeping position, too. Sleeping positions that put pressure on your neck, shoulders and hips can cause back pain the next morning. Sleeping on your stomach is bad for your spine as well. It flattens the natural curve of your back and this adds more strain to your body.
So, what to do? Here are a couple of tricks:
If you sleep on your side, draw up your knees toward your chest. You can add a pillow in between your knees for added comfort.
If you like sleeping on your back, put a pillow under your knees to maintain the natural curve of your spine.
For stomach sleepers, you can place a pillow under your abdomen to relieve the strain on your back.
Another thing you have to reassess is your mattress. If you have been using it for more than 10 years already or if it’s saggy and squeaky, it’s probably time to get a replacement.
6 – Seek professional help
If the pain is constant and doesn’t go away, it’s time to get an accurate diagnosis. This will help uncover the root cause of your back pain so you can look into your options for treatment and recovery.
You don’t need to suffer through back pain needlessly. If you already have it, there are ways to manage it with tools like TENS units, massage chairs, or hydrotherapy. Slowly, you can improve your health and your body to slowly get rid yourself of your back aches. The body has the capacity to heal itself. You just need to equip yourself with the proper knowledge and tools.
I’ll just leave this inspiring video about how the body heals itself. This is a very powerful video so watch it if you can. Cheers!