Natural Standard Research Collaboration, which was founded by health care providers and researchers to provide high-quality, evidence-based information about complementary and alternative medicine including dietary supplements and integrative therapies, noted that for prevention of acute and chronic pain, it is important to take all prescribed medications and use all therapies as ordered by a doctor. The following suggestions from in its pain monograph could prove to be useful starting points or complements to conversations retailers have with their customers:
• Proper body mechanics: Many options exist for individuals wishing to prevent back and neck pain. Learning proper body mechanics, such as bending, lifting and twisting, is particularly important if the individual’s occupation involves repetitive bending, lifting and twisting.
• Exercise: Regular exercise helps to keep back muscles strong and flexible. Regular low-impact aerobic activities do not strain or jolt the back and neck. Low-impact aerobic exercises may also increase strength and endurance in the back and allow the muscles to function better. Walking and swimming are good choices. Abdominal and back muscle exercises, also called core-strengthening exercises, help condition back muscles so that they function more efficiently and help protect the back from injury. Flexibility in the hips and upper legs aligns the pelvic bones to improve back comfort.
• Posture: Maintaining good posture, such as sitting straight in a chair and not slumping, can prevent and decrease back pain. Avoid standing or sitting in one place for long periods of time. Individuals with jobs that require long standing or sitting should take frequent breaks from standing or sitting positions to help prevent back pain.
• Weight control: Maintaining weight within an ideal range for the individual’s body size is very important. Excess weight has been directly linked with the development and worsening of back and knee pain. In order to compensate for extra weight, the spine can become tilted and stressed unevenly. As a result, over time, the back may lose its proper support and an unnatural curvature of the spine may develop. In particular, pain and problems in the low back may be aggravated by obesity. This occurs in individuals with extra weight in their stomachs because the excess weight pulls the pelvis forward and strains the lower back, creating lower back pain.
• Diet: A healthy diet, including fresh fruits and vegetables, provides the body with essential nutrients for health, and can help decrease the underlying causes that lead to pain, such as poor vascular (blood vessel) and nerve health.
• Stopping smoking: Smokers have diminished oxygen levels in their spinal tissues that can hinder the healing process. Clinical studies have been mixed over whether cigarette smoking leads to back conditions, but there is evidence that smoking may increase the risk of developing sciatica, back pain that radiates to the hip and/or leg due to pressure on a nerve.