Ask the MSK Expert: How can back pain flare-ups be prevented?


What are the most common causes of back pain flare-ups, and how can they be prevented?

Dr. Reidy says: Back pain flare-ups often come out of the blue, but there are many causes of low back pain, ranging from trauma to disease. Low back problems are often aggravated by improper body mechanics and activities that require heavy lifting or prolonged periods of bending. 

Changing the way you perform some daily activities may reduce your risk of injury and keep your back healthy. Proper lifting techniques – such as bending your knees when lifting something to allow your legs to support your back and ‘squaring up’ to the object you are lifting – can help reduce the chance of injury. Also, standing and sitting tall and not straining to reach objects will also help prevent injury. 

Lower extremity strength and flexibility combined with core strength can greatly reduce the chance of low back flare-ups and lessen the severity and duration of the flare-ups when they do occur. Yoga and Pilates are great exercises to increase your lower extremity strength and flexibility and core strength. Start slow, and commit to the long haul. Your back will feel better, and the chance of injury will be reduced. 

If you do experience a back pain flare-up, rest and avoid heavy physical activity. You should seek treatment when back pain is persistent and rest or over-the-counter medications do not relieve pain. See a doctor if pain interferes with sleep or daily activities or if there is numbness, tingling or weakness in your legs.

Physician Spotlight
Edward D. Reidy, MD, is a physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist at Tri Rivers. He treats axial spine and peripheral joint pain; neuropathic pain and weakness of the extremities; and myofascial pain syndrome. He performs electrodiagnostic testing and provides chronic pain management. 

Dr. Reidy sees patients in our BHS Crossroads Campus and North Hills offices, as well as at Armstrong County Memorial Hospital for EMGs. To schedule an appointment with him, or any other Tri Rivers provider, please call 1-866-874-7483 or click here.