Living with back pain

November 28, 2021
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In 2019, I had an accident at my gym - a slipped disc injury while doing squats. Since then, I've had varying levels of back pain, including sciatica for a brief period and have had to learn to live with it. Along the way, I've picked up some techniques and products for managing my pain, which I'd like to share in this article.

PS - This article isn't medical advice, just my personal experience. You should always consult a doctor for medical advice.

Table of contents

Osteopathy treatment

Osteopathy is "a way of detecting, treating and preventing health problems by moving, stretching and massaging a person's muscles and joints". It's a bit more hands-on than physiotherapy. When I began my treatment, I saw significant benefits. I have a half-hour therapy session every fortnight to keep my back pain and stiffness in check. It costs about £45 a session.

Regular exercise

I go to the gym about three days a week. My back pain usually gets worse when I take a long break from the gym. I strictly avoid any exercises that stress my lower back as I'm scared to injure my back again. However, I do work out my core and back so that my muscles stay strong and help my spine out. In particular, I do exercises that physiotherapists have advised me to do. My favourite stretch is the knee to opposite shoulder stretch.

Sleeping comfortably

Did you know that there are right and wrong ways to sleep? I didn't until I saw this video. I used to love lying on my stomach, but I find it a lot easier lying on my back since my injury. I also use pillows to raise my legs, as shown in the video. I highly recommend the Recci memory foam mattress, which helps me sleep better. I also use a Misiki orthopaedic pillow which helps me maintain my sleeping position better than a regular pillow.

Recci memory foam mattress
Recci memory foam mattress
Misiki orthopaedic pillow
Misiki orthopaedic pillow

Sit-stand desk

In my office, I used to have a sit-stand desk. However, when quarantine and the work from home began, I bought myself a simple table from Ikea. I debated getting myself a sit-stand desk but delayed it because I knew it'd be a hassle when it came to moving houses in the future. A year later, still working from home, I finally got one. I'm delighted with this desk and the mat that I bought alongside it.

Flexispot electric sit-stand desk
Flexispot electric sit-stand desk
Flexispot anti-fatigue mat
Flexispot anti-fatigue mat

Pain relief

If my pain goes up following an activity, I use an ice pack for twenty minutes to reduce inflammation. This provides a ton of pain relief.

Back pain relief gel pack by Magic Gel
Back pain relief gel pack by Magic Gel

The ice pack can be a bit of a faff sometimes, though. Biofreeze is a good alternative, especially for when I'm outside.

Biofreeze pain relieving gel
Biofreeze pain relieving gel

Deep heat is another product I can highly recommend. It just feels so good! I generally use it after my morning shower or before going to bed.

Deep heat rub
Deep heat rub

I do also have an electric heat pack. However, it gets a little too hot for my liking and isn't comfortable to lie down with. So, I tend to favour the deep heat rub over this one.

Electric heat pack with waist belt
Electric heat pack with waist belt

Conclusion

Most importantly, I try not to be stupid and lift any heavy weights or do anything that stresses my back, e.g., assembling Ikea furniture. Whenever I've made that mistake, it's caused me weeks of agony. I dread events like going on holiday or moving houses because I now have to rely on someone else to lift everything for me. 😔 However, for the most part, I'm just incredibly grateful for every second of my life that I'm not in pain and to be able to go about my day and do most things I want to do without too much trouble.

If you have any recommendations, please let me know in the comments below.

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