You should accept and take control of your back pain

Be open-minded about treating back pain

Be open toward reshaping how you view your chronic back pain. Our goal is to give all patients an adequate explanation for their pain so they understand what medical care can and cannot do. This will allow them to focus on starting rehabilitation. A key focus of this guide is helping people self-manage their condition by reducing pain and its impact on their day-to-day life even if the pain cannot be cured completely.

We encourage people to stay physically active and continue with normal activities as much as possible. We provide information about the expected course of their pain and effective self-care options. Treatment should take into account:

  • Your needs as a patient
  • Your preferences as a patient
  • Your informed decisions
  • Involve good patient-physician communication

Studies have shown that patients who do not receive an adequate explanation for their pain frequently want more diagnostic tests, were less satisfied with their visit, or are less likely to want the same doctor again.

Factors you can change that influence your back pain

Your physical fitness

Take a look at what reversible factors, including your weight, exercise, or activity level, you could change with help from your doctor. You can even look at your mental approach or understanding of chronic pain. Aging is an example of an irreversible risk factor, but diet and exercise habits are certainly reversible.

Your job

People who have physically demanding work activities and need to be able to constantly perform at such a high level are especially at risk of developing chronic pain. For these people, even a simple injury or incident may have the effect of becoming a career-ending injury. In these cases, we suggest that they view their back pain as a realistic calling to consider less physically demanding or alternative work options. 

Positive thinking

Don’t view chronic back pain as something that will ruin your life or that only doctors can free you from. People who understand that they need to take an active role in treating their back pain by doing physical exercises and even learning some simple cognitive-behavioral exercises, can lead fulfilling lives by engaging in most of their preferred recreational physical activities and managing intermittent episodes of chronic back pain. A harmful way of managing your pain is to think that with every step you take, your discs are leaking, degenerating, or bulging. This will lead you to retreat and respond by becoming fearful of any and all normal activities that cause further pain. Hurt does not necessarily mean harm when it comes to chronic back pain especially if your doctor has assured you that you don’t have a fracture, tumor, or infection.

Outside factors that influence back pain

We are not certain why some people are at risk of developing conditions like chronic back pain. It may be a matter of their genetic makeup, but the best explanation is probably that much like other chronic medical conditions, there are some genetic factors that cannot be changed, some environmental factors that may or may not be easily changed, and some personal factors or behaviors that definitely can be changed. Some researchers are looking at whether our genetic makeup plays a role in controlling our body’s response to pain.

Last reviewed: 
April 2018

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