If you have back pain, the more sitting
and lying down you do, the worse the
pain will get, says Dr. Linda Woodhouse,
a physiotherapist and professor at the
University of Alberta. Sitting less and being
more active can help to prevent back pain.
“Some people work at a stand-up desk
to reduce the load on their spine. If you
have to sit, get up and move around every
10 to 20 minutes. If you’re driving long
distances, stop and walk a bit every couple
of hours. If you wait until the pain comes
on, you’ve waited too long.”
Lying down can feel better because it
relaxes the back of the spine and creates
more room for the nerves. But because
fluid and tissues go towards that area, the
pain is worse when you stand up.
But when you’re in the midst
of terrible back pain, it’s hard to
imagine getting better. “Back pain
is very, very scary and that fear
can start patients going in the
wrong direction,” says Dr. Linda
Woodhouse, a physiotherapist and
professor at the University of Alberta.
“They may decide to lie in bed for
a couple of days, in the hope that it
will go away. If you do that, it’s pretty
much guaranteed that your back pain
will be much worse. At that point,
you’re so disabled that you go to
People often begin the long
journey toward back-pain recovery
by requesting an X-ray, an MRI or
an appointment with a specialist.
The wait times add up and seeing a
surgeon can take up to a year. Given
only about 10 per cent of people with
back pain actually need surgery, all
that waiting can be for nothing.
Alberta researchers are now
working to give those living with
back pain timely treatment, relief
SpineAccess Alberta is a three-year project that will create and test
a new way to care for back pain. It
is one of 10 projects funded through
the Partnership for Research and
Innovation in the Health System,
created by Alberta Innovates –
Health Solutions and Alberta
Health Services. Two pilot clinics in
Edmonton and Calgary will be the
centrepieces of SpineAccess and are
scheduled to open in 2015. The clinics
will evaluate people with back pain
to see if they need surgery, nonsurgical treatment or if their back
pain will go away on its own.
SpineAccess aims to reach people
You can also ease and prevent back pain
with these tips:
pain strikes, aerobic activity helps bring
nutrients to the spine, which can help
prevent back injury. Depending on the
type of problem, some people are better
off exercising in a sitting position such
as bicycling. Others find walking or
swimming more comfortable.
muscles in your stomach and back can
help prevent back pain.
can contribute to back pain.
For more tips, visit MyHealthAlberta.ca and
search back pain.
Keep moving to keep back pain at bay