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Managing your chronic back pain

Chronic back pain - managing; Chronic back pain - self-care; Failed back syndrome - managing; Lumbar stenosis -managing; Spinal stenosis - managing; Sciatica - managing; Chronic lumbar pain - managing

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Managing chronic back pain means finding ways to make your back pain tolerable so you can live your life. You may not be able to get rid of your pain completely, but you can change some things that worsen your pain. These things are called stressors. Some of them may be physical, like the chair you sit in at work. Some may be emotional, like a difficult relationship.

Reducing stress can improve your physical and emotional health. It is not always easy to reduce stress, but it's easier if you are able to ask your friends and family for help.

Make a List

First, make a list of what makes your back pain better and what makes it worse.

Then try to make changes in your home and work to decrease the causes of your pain. For example, if bending to pick up heavy pots sends shooting pain down your back, rearrange your kitchen so that the pots are hanging from above or are stored at waist height.

If your back pain is worse at work, talk to your boss. It may be that your workstation isn't set up correctly.

Long car rides and getting in and out of the car can be hard on your back. Here are some tips:

These changes around your home could help relieve your back pain:

Rely on Friends and Family

It is important to have strong relationships with family and friends you can depend on when your back pain makes it hard to get through the day.

Take time to build strong friendships at work and outside of work by using caring words and being kind. Give sincere compliments to the people around you. Respect those around you and treat them the way you like to be treated.

If a relationship is causing stress, consider working with a counselor to find ways to resolve conflict and strengthen the relationship.

Establish Life Routines

Set up good life habits and routines such as:

References

Barr KP, Concannon LG, Harrast MA. Low back pain. In: Cifu DX, ed. Braddom's Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 33.

Chou R, Deyo R, Friedly J, et al. Noninvasive treatments for low back pain. Rockville (MD): Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (US); 2016 Feb. Report No.: 16-EHC004-EF. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26985522.

Dinakar P. Principles of pain management. In: Daroff RB, Jankovic J, Mazziotta JC, Pomeroy SL, eds. Bradley's Neurology in Clinical Practice. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 54.

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Review Date: 8/4/2018  

Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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