New Year’s Resolutions for Chronic Back Pain

new year's resolutions for back pain with clock and champagne

The Dreaded New Year’s Resolution

Well, it’s that time of year again… The end of one year and the beginning of another. And, as tradition would have it: it’s time to set those New Year’s resolutions! People have been marking the new year with resolutions for thousands and thousands of years. Nevertheless, in today’s culture, the resolution still is a big deal.

For some, setting a resolution is energizing. For others, it’s a chore. Whatever your camp, it does seem that setting a resolution can be a refreshing way for many to start the new year. Resolutions guide us by encouraging us to do better and feel better. Feeling better is a big goal for many. And for those who might suffer from debilitating back pain, feeling better just might make the top of your resolution list.

Back Pain Facts & Stats

Back pain is a condition that is experienced by millions of Americans every year. In fact, a significant number of financial losses can be attributed to missed days at work from chronic neck or back pain. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, national losses resulting from back pain call-outs is approximated at $11.6 to $12.7 billion a year. Furthermore, according to Duke University Researchers, an individual who is experiencing back pain is estimated to spend 1.6 times more money on annual medical expenses than the general population. (Yikes! That money could have meant a vacation—or two—in 2017!)

It’s Resolution Time!

There are innumerable causes for back pain. These may include spinal deformities, injuries from accidents or falls, degenerative conditions related to aging, and inflammatory disorders such as osteoarthritis. Whatever the cause of your back pain, however, a painful spine can be debilitating. Your pain can keep you from work, from the hobbies that you love, from spending valuable time with your family, or from getting the rest that you need at night in order to bring your A game in the morning.

Severe neck and back can be crippling to the body, your everyday life, and your wallet. However, there are steps you can take to combat the pain. Making a New Year’s resolution to do things differently, change your normal ways, and take charge of your spinal health, can greatly affect the state of your back—and your life.

So, you’ve made the decision today to live a happier, healthier, and pain-free 2018 … What now?

couple toasting to new year's resolution to end back pain

Keep It Simple.

Resolving to do something about your chronic back pain is step number one. Step number two involves figuring out which set of actions to take and asking yourself: What’s going to be the right remedy for me? The simplest resolutions are often the easiest to stick to. Consider the following stress-free resolutions:

  • Exercise & stretching: This is one of the most popular back pain resolutions for a reason: Exercise strengthens the muscles that provide support to our spine and encourages weight loss, which removes excess strain from our lower back. Activities that encourage stretching, such as yoga, promote spinal flexibility and release muscular tension that pulls painfully on our spine.
  • Work on that posture!: Posture can play a big role in back pain, especially since most of us sit hunched over a computer all day. Try to make sure that you have a supportive chair. Or, if you feel like experimenting, you can replace your “boring” office chair with an exercise ball. This ergonomic replacement for your typical swivel chair will work your core muscles and encourage you to sit straight while you type. If you are unsure of your posture, it might be best to seek postural training, either through self-teaching via online tutorials or by requesting the help of a professional. (Physical therapists and chiropractors have excellent experience and office workaround tips when it comes to correcting poor posture!)
  • Get plenty of rest: Many of us don’t get enough rest, plain and simple. Many of us have also realized that this causes problems, like enhanced irritability. What some of us don’t know, however, is that sleep deprivation can also cause irritability in the body. Sleep is a time of cellular repair and mental restoration. If we don’t give our body that time, it may grumble back at us in the form of increased inflammation and back pain. This year, vow to get 7-8 hours of sleep whenever you can and address insomnia with good sleep hygiene, herbal supplements, or the assistance of a medical professional.
  • Don’t underestimate the mind: Our minds play a huge role in how we feel physically. If you’re already feeling stressed and anxious, your negative emotions will feed your back pain by creating more tension and inflammation. Meditation and mindfulness are two widely popular ways to combat pain. Try an introduction to meditation course, or pick up a book on mindfulness techniques. You may find that this not only improves your pain, but also, your ability to cope with the high demands of everyday living.

Lastly, don’t get discouraged! Your resolution may take a few rounds of trial and error before you weed out the remedies that work for you… from the ones that just don’t seem to make an impact. The main point is, if you’re resolved to do it, you can find some relief without even stepping foot in a doctor’s office. If you are unsure of which route to take, don’t hesitate to discuss these options with an experienced professional. Whether that person is a spine surgeon, physical therapist, or allied health professional, one thing holds true: there are back pain solutions out there for everyone!

At New York City Spine Surgery, our standard for excellent care means treating you as a whole person, and not just another spine disorder on a chart.

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