Simple Ways to Keep Your Back Healthy

When your back feels good, life can feel good. Here are some effective, everyday strategies for keeping it that way.

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How to Prevent Back Pain

  1. Standing: Keeping one foot forward of the other, with knees slightly bent, takes the pressure off your low back.
  2. Sitting: Sitting with your knees slightly higher than your hips provides good low back support.
  3. Reaching: Stand on a stool to reach things that are above shoulder level.
  4. Moving heavy items: Pushing is easier on your back than pulling. Use your arms and legs to start the push. If you must lift a heavy item, get someone to help you.
  5. Lifting: Kneel down on one knee with the other foot flat on the floor as near as possible to the item you are lifting. Lift with your legs, not your back. Keep the object close to your body at all times.
  6. Carrying: Two small objects (one in either hand) may be easier to handle than one large one. If you must carry one large object, keep it close to your body.
  7. Sleeping: Sleeping on your back puts a lot of pressure on your back. Put a pillow or two under your knees to cut the pressure in half. Lying on your side with a pillow between your knees also helps.

Treating Your Back Pain

Feeling minor back pain? Treat it with anti-inflammatory medication, such as ibuprofen. You also can do gentle stretching or physical activity followed by an ice pack. Additional over-the-counter topical medications, such as lidocaine patches or arthritis gel, also can help reduce pain.

If your back pain persists, consider seeing your primary care provider or a pain medicine specialist for other treatment options.

According to Sean McDermott, MD, pain medicine doctor, UPMC, chronic back pain is back pain that persists longer than three months.

“At UPMC Pain Medicine, we provide a multi-modal approach to chronic pain where we utilize multiple treatments, including procedures, medications, therapies, and other options to best manage pain,” says Dr. McDermott, who sees patients at UPMC St. Margaret.

Procedure approaches include:

  • Injections.
  • Nerve ablations.
  • Advanced procedures such as spinal cord stimulators.

“The most common injection that we administer is an epidural steroid injection,” he adds. “This type of injection is typically for patients with sciatica, which is back pain that ends up radiating to the legs.”

UPMC Pain Medicine: Expert Care, Close to Home

UPMC Pain Medicine provides evaluation and treatment for many different types of pain. And with many different locations, you can find care close to you.

“We are excited to offer world-class services for patients in the area, so they don’t need to travel far for an injection or any of our multi-modal therapies,” Dr. McDermott says.

To find pain management care in your area, visit us online.

About UPMC

Headquartered in Pittsburgh, UPMC is a world-renowned health care provider and insurer. We operate 40 hospitals and 800 doctors’ offices and outpatient centers, with locations throughout Pennsylvania, Maryland, New York, West Virginia, and internationally. We employ 4,900 physicians, and we are leaders in clinical care, groundbreaking research, and treatment breakthroughs. U.S. News & World Report consistently ranks UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside as one of the nation’s best hospitals in many specialties and ranks UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh on its Honor Roll of America’s Best Children’s Hospitals. We are dedicated to providing Life Changing Medicine to our communities.