Back pain relief for Homemakers
Updated: Nov 9, 2022
We will talk about back pain today.
This pain is very common, and hard to treat once it becomes chronic, mostly because we are not aware of the simple do's and don'ts.
As this article belongs to the series about what to avoid and what to do, I'll not go into the details of correct diagnosis and medical treatment. That article will come later.
Back pain can be primarily caused by three things
Let's talk about Pain due to a unsuitable mattress first
This cause is the easiest to diagnose but I see so many patients unaware about this. They get diagnosed as having spondylitis or sciatica and then keep correcting their chair and table. Some people even get an MRI done which can show a coincidental did bulge. And then there is a whole cycle of unnecessary treatments and correction of chair, table and seating. Of course, those should be proper, but focusing on them may lead to missing the root cause. So, make the correct diagnosis first. Ask yourself this question. Is your pain more in the morning or evening? Do you wake up due to pain? Do you go to bed without pain but pain developes at night?
If this pattern matches your pain, then in all probabilities your mattress does not suit you. Changing to a more suitable matteress will lead to an improvement within a few days.
But which mattress is the best? Coir, spring, cotton, memory foam? Well, this question isn't the right one. The right question is, which mattress is the best for you!
Unfortunately, there is no simple answer to this. There are people sleeping on hard floor, without pain. And there are some people sleeping on the softest beds, also without pain.
In short, no single bed is good for everyone. You will need to use a mattress for a few nights to know whether it is good for you.
I know it is tough to do. But I see so many patients investing in a very expensive mattress which doesn't suit them. Their pain stays or even increases but they still keep sleeping on it, thinking that it needs more time. It shouldn't take more than a week.
That's why consider buying a mattress with a return policy. Sleep for a week and keep it only if it really suits you.
There are a few broad guidelines though
First, a medium firm matteress is more often better than too hard or too soft. But it is not absolutely necessary.
Second, an old matteress that is sagging in the middle is generally not good.
Third, a mattress that slopes towards your partner is generally not good. Some mattresses come with a technology which prevents sloping towards a heavy partner.
So, these are some points to consider. But the bottom-line is, try sleeping for a few days and keep the mattress only if it suits you.
Next is, Pain due to improper posture and stress during the day. This is a very common pain, and it is getting more common because of long sitting hours and long commutes.
Let us first understand how to know that your pain is not due to sleep but due to what happens during the day.
Ask yourself these simple questions.
Do you get up relatively pain free but gradually develop back pain as the day progresses? Then something in your daily routine is causing it.
The cause can be any of these three:
Household chores, Office, commute
Let us look at household chores or home making first. This goes for all the ladies and gents who do household chores.
The most important thing is to be aware of your posture. A lot has been said and done about office ergonomics but home ergonomics has still not got its due attention. There are so many pain points at home. All the chores that require you to bend for long times cause back pain. For example, if the tap is short where you wash dishes, it will require you to bend. the kitchen platform may be too low, the refrigerator may be too low, all your utensils may be kept at the lower cabinets, and so many similar things. I'm sure you got my point. All these will make you work in a bent position or will need repeated bending. The traditional advice is to not bend at the back but bend knees or sit down. But this is useful for lifting heavy objects, not for prolonged working in badly designed kitchens. The best way out is to modify things according to your height, so that you don't have to bend much. The tap in the kitchen sink should be adjustable, the height of the platform should be according to you, bottom mounted fridge will reduce bending, if your gas burners are at the same height as the kitchen platform, then that will reduce lifting. Lifting. heavy pots, pans and cookers should also be minimized. There is a way to lift heavy items, you need to keep them as close to the body as possible. Lifting with extended arms is worse for three back. But still, smartly organising your kitchen is better.
Let's come out of the kitchen now, top loading washing machines are better than front loading ones, for back pain. Brooms and mops should have long handles. Basically everything should be made so that bending is avoided.
I know that it is not always feasible to do all these modifications. But at least be aware of these causes and think of some smart ways to improve the ergonomics of your home.
This list is not exhaustive, but gives the general idea about how to manage backache at home. We will talk about pain due to office ergonomics, commuting and injury in the next article.
Take care and be pain free.