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BACKACHE

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What causes backache?
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Backache is usually caused by minor strains in the muscles, ligaments or joints, but more serious lower back pain usually is the result of an injury to one of the many joints in the base of your spine. The joints include the facet joints and discs, which when disturbed can push against painful tissue or nerve roots just behind them and may cause sciatica (pain down the leg). The injury usually happens while bending your spine forwards (flexing it), especially while lifting something heavy.

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Other causes of back pain are arthritis, osteoporosis, cancer and structural problems.

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How can you care for it?
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Adjust your activity to your back discomfort. Take care with posture, making beds and so on. Avoid fatigue. Ideally you should perform a set of exercises to strengthen the muscles of your spine and abdomen. It does tend to recur.

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Sport and exercise
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Be careful of sudden twisting movements and sudden overloading of muscles, as in cricket, golf, squash, sailing, weight-lifting and horse riding. Walking, jogging (avoid hard surfaces) and swimming are good activities if you can manage them.

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Sitting
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Avoid sitting for long periods, especially in the car. Your knees should be higher than your hips and your back straight. Maintain the hollow in your back. Be aware of your posture.

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Bed rest and sleep
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Use a low pillow and lie on your side. Do not lie face-up or face-down. Use a mattress that suits you—try a firm one first. Relaxation is important.

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Lifting
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Avoid lifting anything heavier than 10 kg. Squat close to the load and keep your back straight. Do not stoop over the load to get a grip and pick it up. Lift using your knees and legs (not your back) as leverage. Keep your back straight, not bent forwards or backwards.

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Your weight
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Being overweight adds an extra burden to your back, so it is important to keep as close to your ideal weight as possible. Exercise helps to avoid this problem.

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Keeping active
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Your back is designed to move so keeping active is the most important method of early improvement from an injury.

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Acute episodes of pain
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It is best to keep active and keep up your normal mobility (if possible) when your back hurts. If the spasms are severe, you will need to lie down on a firm surface.

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Scrubbing floors and gardening
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Your hands should be as far forward of you as necessary to keep your back straight. Do not flex your back ...

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