Are you having back pain with any of the following?

  • Severe pain, weakness or tingling in your leg(s).
  • Difficulty stopping urination or loss of control of bladder or bowels.
  • Unexplained fever, nausea or vomiting.
  • A history of cancer or unexplained weight loss.

We understand that you are experiencing one or more of the health issues that might be impacting your back pain.

We recommend that you discuss these health issues with your doctor before proceeding with this program.

Once you are cleared by your doctor to do this program, we hope it helps you find relief from your back pain.

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Stress Management

Stress can appear in different forms. Some stressors are things that many of us encounter every day, like conflicts, disagreements or tension in our personal or professional lives. Whatever the cause, learning to manage the stress you feel is important to your health and well being.

Deep Breathing

In our busy lives, we can be rushed and forget the need to slow down and unwind. Stressful situations can cause quick, shallow breathing, which can become a habit over time. Deep breathing, on the other hand, makes us pay attention to our breath. It lengthens and deepens our intake of oxygen and promotes relaxation.

Doing deep breathing exercises for a few minutes many times a day can help reduce stress over time. Breathe smoothly and comfortably. You will feel your body relax and be better able to manage stress. To practice deep breathing it is important to:

  • Make sure you are in a comfortable position.
  • Inhale slowly through your nose and count to 4.
  • Exhale slowly through your nose or mouth and count to 8 (or at least longer than you inhale), letting go of any tension you feel.
  • Relax your shoulders, chest, and stomach muscles as you exhale.
  • Repeat over several minutes.

Deep breathing by itself has many benefits, but it's also possible to combine deep breathing with techniques like guided imagery for a positive, relaxing experience. Guided imagery is a technique that helps you focus on certain images or sensations to relax your body and refresh your mind, such as imagining yourself at a beautiful beach or in a secluded garden.

Body Scan

The body scan is a mental journey through your body as you focus on each part of your body in turn. It can help you to enter and explore deep states of relaxation, especially if you practice it regularly. It can also help you learn to work through your thoughts and feelings and any pain or discomfort you may be feeling.

How to perform the body scan exercise

Make yourself comfortable:

  • Sit back in your chair and straighten your back and neck, while remaining relaxed.
  • Plant your feet firmly on the ground.
  • If sitting is not comfortable, you may lie down and use pillows to make yourself comfortable.
  • Allow your hands to be relaxed, in your lap, or resting gently, palms up, at your sides.
  • If it is comfortable, allow your eyes to close or simply leave them softly focused.

Begin by taking several long, slow, deep breaths. Breathe in fully and exhale slowly:

  • Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth.
  • As you exhale, blow as if you are blowing out a candle. Regulate your breath so the imaginary flame flickers but does not go out.
  • Allow your breath to find its own natural rhythm. Focus on the sensation of breathing. Feel the cool air as it enters your nose and feel the warmth of the air as you exhale. 

Begin to let go of noises around you. If you are distracted by sounds in the room, simply notice the sounds and distraction and then bring your attention back to your breath. Begin to focus on different parts of your body in turn:

  • Bring your attention to the top of your head, becoming aware of your scalp and then your forehead. Notice any tightness or tension you may be holding there and, as much as is possible, allow that tightness to soften and release as you exhale.
  • Bring your awareness down to your eyebrows and the area around your eyes. Notice any tension you are holding, and soften and release the tension as you exhale.
  • Allow your awareness to move down to your cheeks, and your mouth and jaw. You may want to swallow as you breathe and release. 

Continue this exercise with your neck and throat; your shoulders; your hands and fingertips; your chest, your back, legs, thighs, and calves; and, finally, your feet.

Then think of your body as a whole and notice how it expands and rises as you inhale and relaxes as you exhale. If you notice any tension remaining, imagine letting go of it in a wave from your head to your feet.

When you are ready, gently open your eyes.

Guided Relaxation Exercises

Learning to relax is an important key to stress management. Yet this is often difficult to do, especially in stressful situations. Guided relaxation exercises can help you release tension and relax your entire body.

How to perform guided relaxation exercises

Sit in a comfortable position with your hands resting comfortably in your lap and your feet resting on the floor. Take several long, slow, deep breaths. Breathe in fully, fill your lungs, feel your chest and abdomen rise, and then exhale completely. Relax your mind and let go of the outside world. Focus simply on your breathing for several minutes.

Begin forming a picture of yourself:

  • See yourself as you were after a recent mistake or disappointment. Perhaps this is a time you would have liked to have responded differently than you did. Picture where you were and picture your face and the position of your body.
  • Be aware that you did your best in this situation, based on your awareness at that time. Given your life experience and feelings, you did the very best you could.

Repeat the following affirmations to yourself. Just let them drift into your mind:

"I am a unique and valuable human being."

"I am a unique and valuable human being."

"I always do the best I can."

"I always do the best I can."

"I love and accept myself."

"I love and accept myself."

"Today I like myself more than yesterday."

"Today I like myself more than yesterday."

"Tomorrow I will like myself even more."

"Tomorrow I will like myself even more."

Visualize yourself moving through your daily routine. See what you will be doing the rest of today or tomorrow. See that you are unique, that you are valuable, and that you are trying to live the best you can. You are learning and growing all the time. Watch how you always do what seems best at the moment that you do it.

When you are ready, slowly open your eyes and return to the present.

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If you have an emergency medical condition, call 911 or go to the nearest hospital. An emergency medical condition is any of the following: (1) a medical condition that manifests itself by acute symptoms of sufficient severity (including severe pain) such that you could reasonably expect the absence of immediate medical attention to result in serious jeopardy to your health or body functions or organs; (2) active labor when there isn't enough time for safe transfer to a Plan hospital (or designated hospital) before delivery, or if transfer poses a threat to your (or your unborn child's) health and safety, or (3) a mental disorder that manifests itself by acute symptoms of sufficient severity such that either you are an immediate danger to yourself or others, or you are not immediately able to provide for, or use, food, shelter, or clothing, due to the mental disorder. This information is not intended to diagnose health problems or to take the place of specific medical advice or care you receive from your physician or other health care professional. If you have persistent health problems, or if you have additional questions, please consult with your doctor. If you have questions or need more information about your medication, please speak to your pharmacist. Kaiser Permanente does not endorse the medications or products mentioned. Any trade names listed are for easy identification only.

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