The Caregiver


Backache and Prevention




Preventing Backache

Tips on Treating Backache at Home


The back is a well-designed structure made up of bone, muscles, nerves and other soft tissues.  As caregivers often put undue strain on their back while lifting a person, they are particularly vulnerable to back injury.  Backache is usually  caused by tearing or straining the ligaments around the spine, resulting in inflammation and pain in the affected area.

Consult your doctor if you are experiencing severe back pain that persist for more than 48 hours, or weakness, numbness or tingling sensation spreads down your legs.



Preventing Backache
Raised the Foot of the Bed if Possible
.  As most home bed are quite low, you should take care not to bend and strain your back.  Always work with a helper if possible.  Bed raisers can be used to raise the foot of the bed.
Keep Back Straight by Bending Your Knees
.  Use the longest and strongest muscles in your thigh to provide the energy needed for the task.  The muscles that move your back bone are small and are not designed for the heaviest work.  Keep your back straight by bending knees for tasks that require you to lower your height.  
Keep Feet Apart for a Broad Base of Support.  
Stand with your feet apart to help you keep your balance.  If the feet are close together, weight is distributed over a small area.  Balance can be upset in this position when there is even a slight tilt of the body.


Carry Object Close to Your Body.  Stand as close as possible to the object your are moving.  This will bring the centre of gravity of you and the object close, hence increase your stability and reduce strain on your muscles.  Practically, when moving a person on bed, you can place your knee on his bed to get your centre of gravity close to the person.

Push, Pull, or Roll Whenever Possible, Rather than Lift.  It takes more effort to lift something against the force of gravity.  Pushing and pulling allows the use of your body weight to facilitate the move while rolling requires less muscles work.  If you need to lift, lift towards you, never away and you will have better control.  
Avoid Twisting and Stretching Muscles During Work
.  Move smoothly and evenly while working.  Jerky movements
strain muscles and usually occur when there is failure to bring work as close to the body and its center of gravity as possible.  Point feet in the direction of movement to avoid twisting you back. 



Tips on Treating Backache at Home

Rest in a comfortable position.  If the pain is severe, you should lie down, either in bed with a medium-firm mattress or on the floor.  You should lie in whatever position that is most comfortable.  If you are more comfortable in an armchair, support the back with pillows or cushions.

Continue with light activity.  Until your back has completely recovered you should not lift anything heavy.  However, prolonged bed rest is not a good idea for back pain.  Try to keep up with activities that are not painful to your back because light activities speed healing and recovery. 

Apply cold, then heat to the part that hurts.  Such treatment is effective to soothe sore and inflamed muscles.  Simply put the ice in a bag, then wrap the bag in a cloth or towel.  Use ice for as long as spasms persist.  After spasms and acute pain subside, you can apply heat from a heating pad or warm towel to help loosen tight muscles.  This treatment can be performed several times a day but limit each heat application to 20 minutes.

Use pain relievers.  Paracetamol (example Panadol) is commonly used to relief pain.  You should also seek medical advice, as medication, for example muscle relaxants can be prescribed.

Consider using a support brace or corset.  Consult your doctor first.  If necessary, it is best to use a brace or corset only for short periods or during back-straining activities.  This is because your back muscles may weaken with prolonged reliance of these devices.