Relieving Your Back Pain
When you are suffering from an ache or struggling to get lower back pain relief, it may seem difficult to take a proactive approach to the matter. However, alleviating such aches may be largely within your control. If you make some simple changes in habit and lifestyle, you might be pleasantly surprised by the results. At North Texas Medical Center, we take great pride in helping our community achieve better health. If you are suffering from backache, call us at , or contact us online today.
What To Do About Lower Back Pain
It is prudent for you to visit your doctor if you have been experiencing recurring and persistent low back pain. The doctor will carry out examinations on you and recommend the right treatment procedure for you. There are two major treatment options for lower back pain. We have the surgical treatment and non surgical treatment options. Surgical treatment for lower back pain can only be carried out in severe cases with evidence of structural changes that require corrective surgical measures and where nerves are badly damaged or wearing out rapidly. Non surgical option is whereby the physician will try to alleviate the pain without any surgery. Non surgical treatment is administered in a number of ways which includes pain medication, application of heat or ice, manual manipulation, exercises and therapeutic massage.
The Universal Guide To Lower Back Pain: Everything You Ever Wanted To Know Straight From The Experts
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If youve ever had lower back pain stop you from doing what you want, youre not alone. Lower back pain is one of the most common medical problems in the world. It is a leading reason why people visit a doctor, affecting more than 80% of adults at some point in their lives. According to the Global Burden of Diseasea significant study published in the Lancet medical journallower back pain is also a leading cause of disability.
While severe lower back pain can cause worry, pain severity is not always an indication something is seriously wrong. Photo Source: Shutterstock.
You may not be able to prevent lower back pain, especially as you age and your back loses some strength and resilience. Fortunately, there are many ways you can get relief, no matter the cause of your back pain.
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Tips For Dealing With Lower Back Pain
By Robert Greenleaf, MD, Spine Surgeon
Lower back pain is extremely common and one of the top reasons for missed workdays. Thats because the lower back supports the weight of the upper body and is subject to a lot of stress and strainespecially during everyday movements like lifting and twisting.
One of two things typically causes lower back pain: a sudden injury or the wear and tear of aging, arthritis and physical activity. No matter the cause of your lower back pain, here are 10 recommendations that can help you relieve it and prevent future problems.
Range Of Lower Back Pain Symptoms
Low back pain can incorporate a wide variety of symptoms. It can be mild and merely annoying or it can be severe and debilitating. Low back pain may start suddenly, or it could start slowlypossibly coming and goingand gradually get worse over time.
Depending on the underlying cause of the pain, symptoms can be experienced in a variety of ways. For example:
- Pain that is dull or achy, contained to the low back
- Stinging, burning pain that moves from the low back to the backs of the thighs, sometimes into the lower legs or feet can include numbness or tingling
- Muscle spasms and tightness in the low back, pelvis, and hips
- Pain that worsens after prolonged sitting or standing
- Difficulty standing up straight, walking, or going from standing to sitting
In addition, symptoms of lower back pain are usually described by type of onset and duration:
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Why Is Lower Back Pain Such A Common Problem
The bottom part of your back typically has just five vertebrae fewer than your neck and mid-back. And these vertebrae do a lot of heavy lifting! Your lower back is where your spine connects to your pelvis, bearing the weight of your upper body. This area experiences a lot of movement and stress, which may lead to wear, tear and injuries.
Aquatic Therapy And Whirlpools
Physical therapists often recommend aquatic therapy including exercises done in warm, therapeutic pools for back pain. The buoyancy of the water helps alleviate strain on the joints to encourage strengthening and gentle stretching of the muscles. Even floating in warm water can help relax muscles and release tension as well as increase circulation, according to the Arthritis Foundation. With home whirlpool baths, try aiming the jets directly at your sore spots for a soothing underwater massage.
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Are You Making Your Back Pain Worse
Don’t be guilty of exacerbating your already achy back. Try these tips for preventing added low back pain:
- Wear comfortable, low-heeled shoes if you are on your feet all day.
- Don’t slouch when standing or sitting.
- At home or work, make sure work surfaces are at a comfortable height.
- Warm-up and stretch before exercise or other strenuous physical activity.
- Don’t try to lift objects that are too heavy and don’t twist while lifting.
- Live a healthy lifestyle, stop smoking, and keep off the extra weight.
What Structures Make Up The Back
The lower backwhere most back pain occursincludes the five vertebrae in the lumbar region, which supports much of the weight of the upper body. The spaces between the vertebrae are maintained by round, rubbery pads called intervertebral discs that act like shock absorbers throughout the spinal column to cushion the bones as the body moves. Bands of tissue known as ligaments hold the vertebrae in place, and tendons attach the muscles to the spinal column. Thirty-one pairs of nerves are rooted to the spinal cord and they control body movements and transmit signals from the body to the brain.
Other regions of vertebrate are cervical , thoracic , and sacral and coccygeal segments.
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Back Pain Expert Philip Sell On The Questions To Ask
We asked Philip Sell, consultant orthopaedic and spinal surgeon, what he would want to know if he was suffering from back pain.
What is the cause of my back pain?In 85% of cases, were unable to be precise about why people have back pain. This can be frustrating. It may be more helpful to think about what you can do to make your back better quicker. Research has shown that occupational factors or physical factors only play a small part in back pain. Your genes are probably the most significant factor in back pain.
When should I visit my GP with back pain?See your GP as soon as possible if the back pain is combined with difficulty in passing urine or numbness between the legs or around the bottom. For people over the age of 55 with new back pain, a previous history of cancer surgery or loss of weight should also be medically checked as soon as possible.
Should I be resting?You may feel its the wrong thing to do, but keep mobile and active. Resting, bed rest in particular, can prolong the duration of an episode of back pain. Most acute episodes of back pain will settle on their own, often within days rather than weeks. Taking pain relief and keeping active will stop stiffness setting in and keep muscles in good condition.
Heat And Cold Therapy
For temporary relief from back pain, try using a heating pad or cold compress. Cold reduces inflammation and constricts blood flow, while heat relaxes muscles and dilates blood vessels. Both can treat back pain depending on the cause. A good rule of thumb to remember is that heat works best for soreness and cold works best for injuries.
TENS units like the Omron Avail can temporarily relieve chronic pain.
Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation is a type of therapy that stimulates nerves at pain sites. Using electrodes placed on your skin, a TENS device emits gentle electric signals that mask or intercept the pain signals your body sends to your brain.
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Heres What The Study Couldnt Tell Us
The study was missing a few potentially helpful low-risk medicines. Topicals such as the lidocaine patch or capsaicin ointment were not included, which is a shame, as these can provide relief for some people, and carry little risk. I would also be interested to know if over-the-counter topical therapies containing menthol and camphor are better than placebo for low back pain. Suggestions for the future research, and the next update!
I plan to write about chronic low back pain in a future post, because there was a guideline update for that specific issue as well.
Who Should I See For Lower Back Pain
Your primary care physician knows you best and should be your first contact for lower back pain. If he or she is unable to diagnose or treat the issue, you may get referred to a specialist, such as a rehabilitation physician . These specialists practice a comprehensive approach to lower back pain, and can diagnose and treat a variety of conditions that have lower back pain as a symptom.
Later, you may get referred to a physical therapist, a chiropractor or another practitioner depending on the nature of your back pain. The good news is that surgery is rarely needed for lower back pain. Only about one in ten patients needs lower back surgery, Chhatre says.
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How Long Does Lower Back Pain Usually Last
Lower back pain can be categorized as acute, subacute or chronic. Acute episodes of lower back pain usually last from a few days to 4 weeks and subacute lower back pain lasts between 4 to 12 weeks. However, according to the National Institutes of Health, about 20 percent of people with acute back pain go on to develop chronic back paindefined as pain that lasts 12 weeks or longer. Even in these cases, there are many different treatment options to help relieve lower back pain symptoms.
When your back is really killing you, you might worry something is seriously wrong. The same goes for back pain that seems unending. The good news is that while back pain is a major inconvenience, it is rarely an urgent medical issue. In fact, most of the time you dont have to treat it. Back pain usually resolves on its own unless you have a major underlying issue.
Is It Muscle Strain Or Sciatica
Back pain that occurs after excessive exercise or heavy lifting is frequently a strain injury. However, occasionally these activities cause disc injury and rupture or herniation. When a herniated disc irritates the sciatic nerve, it can cause back pain and, in some people, leg pain.
What is Sciatica?
Sciatica is a form of nerve pain caused by pressure on the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve is a large nerve that runs down through the buttocks and extends down the back of the leg. Pressing on or pinching of the sciatic nerve causes shock-like or burning low back pain. Sometimes people feel as if the pain radiates down through the buttocks and down one leg, sometimes even reaching the foot.
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Don’t Rest An Achy Back
Doctors used to prescribe bed rest for back pain. But now we know that lying still is one of the worst things you can do. It can make back pain worse and lead to other complications. Don’t rest for more than a day or two. It’s important to get up and slowly start moving again. Exercise has been found to be one of the most effective ways to relieve back pain quickly. Try swimming, walking, or yoga.
Tips To Strengthen Your Back
Flexion and extension exercises are commonly used to prevent low back pain. Be sure to review with the doctor any program you are considering.
Easy Low Back Exercises
- Ankle Pumps: Lie on your back and move ankles up and down.
- Heel Slides: Lie on your back and bend then straighten the knees one at a time.
- Wall Squats: With your back flat against a wall, sit like you would in a chair with your knees lined up over your ankles. Gently press against the wall, keeping your abdominal muscles tight. Hold for five seconds.
- Single Knee to Chest Stretch: Lying down with back flat, pull your knee into the chest.
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Conservative Treatments For Lower Back Pain
Conservative treatment is basically alleviation of lower back pain without any surgical means. Conservative treatments for lower back pain include the following:
- Physical therapy for lower back pain is a type of treatment is administered to strengthen your back muscles. This therapy ranges from water therapies to more specialized massage techniques.
- Medications for lower back pain is the most effective way of reducing inflammation, controlling pain and calming of muscle spasms.
- Injections are whereby the lumbar epidural steroid Injections are administered to help in strengthening of the back to reduce pain. A set of two to three injections will be administered into the Lumbar Spine.
Apply A Warm Or Cold Compress
Applying a cold compress to the affected area can numb the pain temporarily by desensitizing the underlying nerves. Heat application through a heating pad, warm bath, or hot water bottle can stimulate blood circulation in the area and loosen the tight muscles.
You may use each of these therapies for 15 minutes every hour, alternating between cold and warm compresses for best results.
Thermotherapy and cryotherapy can help alleviate acute lower back pain, but mostly when used as an adjunct to standard medical treatment.
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How Is Back Pain Treated
Acute back pain usually gets better on its own. Acute back pain is usually treated with:
- Medications designed to relieve pain and/or inflammation
- analgesics such as acetaminophen and aspirin
- non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen and naproxen may be sold over the counter some NSAIDS are prescribed by a physician
- muscle relaxants are prescription drugs that are used on a short-term basis to relax tight muscles
- topical pain relief such as creams, gels, patches, or sprays applied to the skin stimulate the nerves in the skin to provide feelings of warmth or cold in order to dull the sensation of pain. Common topical medications include capsaicin and lidocaine.
Exercising, bed rest, and surgery are typically not recommended for acute back pain.Chronic back pain is most often treated with a stepped care approach, moving from simple low-cost treatments to more aggressive approaches. Specific treatments may depend on the identified cause of the back pain.
Spinal Injuries And Conditions
Sometimes lower back pain is directly related to a spinal disorder or injury, such as:
- Herniated disc: a spinal disc injury that occurs when the jelly-like interior of a disc protrudes through a tear in the outer layer of the disc
- Spinal stenosis: narrowing of the spinal column
- Spondylitis: inflammation of joints between vertebrae
- Spondylosis: a degenerative spinal disorder that can cause loss of normal spinal function
- Degenerative disc disease: osteoporosis of the spine
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Find Relief Through Ice And Heat
Break out that bag of frozen peas for the first 48 hours after the pain sets in, and put it to use for 20 minutes a session, several sessions per day. After those two days are behind you, switch to 20-minute intervals with a heating pad.
Localized cooling shuts down capillaries and reduces blood flow to the area, which helps ease the swelling, says Lisa DeStefano, DO, an associate professor at Michigan State Universitys College of Osteopathic Medicine in East Lansing. Cold also thwarts your nerves ability to conduct pain signals. Heat, on the other hand, loosens tight muscles and increases circulation, bringing extra oxygen to the rescue.
Best Superfoods & Herbs For Back Inflammation
The #1 food for lower back inflammation pain is by far Turmeric. It can actually replace your NSAIDs all together and is fully backed by thousands of studies.
You can take Turmeric in standardized capsules or you can easily add it to your meals.
If you want it to be fully potent, add just a little black pepper and healthy fat to make it most bioavailable.
If you dont like the taste of Turmeric, you can add it to your green smoothie .
If you add a banana in there, or a few dates, you wont feel the taste at all.
Always use organic Turmeric to avoid nasty chemicals.
Not only is ginger a culinary marvel, but its health benefits are also stunning.
Ginger has some extremely potent anti-inflammation compounds, called gingerols.
There are many studies proving how effective ginger can be in the fight against inflammation when consumed regularly.
Studies have found that Ginger has the ability to inhibit nitrous oxide and is helpful for all general inflammatory processes.
The best way to use Ginger would be adding it fresh to your meals or your green smoothies . You can find fresh organic ginger root powder here.
3. Fish Oil
Fish oil can effectively ease inflammation and pain caused by many chronic conditions. The dose used in most convincing research is 2 to 4 grams of DHA + EPA daily.
Make sure to get fish oil from organic-raised fish, without additives and clean from heavy metals and toxins, like this one.
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