PARAMUS, N.J. -- If you're prone to backaches, you know how frustrating they can be. Back pain can prevent you from engaging in activities you enjoy and may cause you to miss work. It can keep you awake at night and affect your mood. Back pain is one of the most common reasons people go to the doctor.
Dr. Bernard Rawlins, a spine surgeon at Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan, who also holds a clinic at the hospital's Outpatient Center in Paramus, has some good advice for those susceptible to back pain. Good habits and practices promoting spine health can also help people avoid back pain in the first place:
- Always pay attention to your posture and movements. Don't slouch when you're sitting or standing. Be mindful of the way you move, even during everyday activities such as loading the dishwasher or taking out the garbage
- Maintain a healthy weight or try to lose weight if necessary, to relieve stress on your back
- Exercise to strengthen your back. Work on your abdominal muscles, which can help support the back
- When lifting heavy packages, bend your knees and keep your back straight. Keep the object close to your body and avoid twisting at the waist
- Don't engage in activities that you know will irritate your back
- Pace yourself when doing chores. Don't go on a cleaning spree or tackle extensive home improvement projects if you're susceptible to back pain
- If you sit at a desk for hours at time, get up and take a walk or stretch on occasion. Get a chair with good lumbar support and make sure it's the right height. A pillow or rolled-up towel placed behind the small of the back can also provide support
- If you have a long drive, take breaks so you're not sitting in the same position for hours
Dr. Bernard Rawlins is an orthopedic spine surgeon at Hospital for Special Surgery specializing in spinal disorders from the cervical spine to scoliosis in both adults and children. He practices at both the HSS Outpatient Center in Paramus and the hospital’s main campus in New York.