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Doris Keene (right) talks with her acupuncturist before a treatment at Portland’s Quest Center for Integrative Health. Keene says the treatments have eased her chronic back pain at least as effectively as the Vicodin and muscle relaxants she once relied on. Kristian Foden-Vencil/Oregon Public Broadcasting hide caption

“We’re sitting for 50 to 60 hours per week,” she says. We sit at our desks, in our cars, at the dinner table, and we sit to write email messages from bed at night. “We think three hours of exercise on the weekend will undo the problems that creates,” she laments. Even standing desks aren’t the easy out, as standing the wrong way all day can lead to different issues. Her mantra: “The best posture for sitting is always the next posture.”

A number of problems start early—you do not have to be elderly to have spine problems. Sitting, lack of exercise, and lack of good nutrition, can cause spinal column problems at an early age. Be sure to check with your healthcare provider, chiropractor, or physical therapist for a correct diagnosis of your problem.

Common causes of low back pain (lumbar backache) include lumbar strain, nerve irritation, lumbar radiculopathy, bony encroachment, and conditions of the bone and joints. Each of these is reviewed below.

^ Verdu, Bénédicte; Decosterd, Isabelle; Buclin, Thierry; Stiefel, Friedrich; Berney, Alexandre (2008-01-01). Antidepressants for the treatment of chronic pain. Drugs. 68 (18): 2611–2632. doi:10.2165/0003495-200868180-00007. ISSN 0012-6667. PMID 19093703.

For back pain is so severe that you need prescription painkillers, be sure to follow the usage guidelines. These medicines may have more unwanted side effects in the long run. The National Safety Council reports that people who treat back pain patients with opioid medications are more likely to have back surgery.

Ground yourself. Grounding, also known as Earthing, can help decrease inflammation in your body and relieve back pain and other types of pain. By walking barefoot on wet grass or sand, your body gets an adequate supply of electrons from the earth. These electrons are the “ultimate antioxidants” that act as powerful anti-inflammatories, and help your immune system function optimally. Walking barefoot is also a great way to strengthen your feet and arches.

While this study used a pain population and quantified the degree of discomfort in different seating systems, it has some limitations. Firstly, the sensors used for determining the thoracolumbar and lumbar postures were placed on the skin surface. While the electromagnetic equipment and methods used in the current study are commonly adopted in biomechanics research [9], it is possible that a more direct method, such as radiographic measurement, would have yielded more accurate angular changes of the vertebral column [16,31]. The benefit of using the current equipment, however, was that it posed little to no risk to the participants, and it avoided any harmful effects of radiation that are associated with radiographic investigation [16].

A back support or back brace can be extremely effective at improving back posture as part of the treatment and management of lower back pain. One of the key aims of physiotherapy treatment for back ache is to improve posture. Painful back conditions such as Sciatica, slipped disc, sacro iliac joint pain, facet syndrome, spinal stenosis and degenerative disc disease can all benefit from wearing a back support.

There are many other potential causes of back pain, but most of these are rare. Be sure to see your doctor if you experience regular back pain that does not go away. After ruling out the more common causes of back pain, your doctor will perform tests to determine if you have a more rare cause. These can include:

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