How To Alleviate Lower Back Pain
Lower back pain is one of the most common complaints of people visiting a doctors office. In fact, lower back pain is so frequent that four out of five people experience it at some point in their lives.
For some people, lower back pain is an acute problem resolved in a matter of days or weeks. For others, its a chronic condition they have to live with every day. So, is there anything you can do to alleviate lower back pain? Read on to find out.
Lower Back Pain Treatment
You should visit a healthcare professional if your lower back pain persists for more than two weeks or prevents you from doing everyday activities. Acute pain is usually treated with light stretches, heat or ice therapy, and medications. The goal is to reduce inflammation, improve mobility, relax tensed muscles, and relieve pain.
The most common medication for acute lower back pain include analgesics, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs , muscle relaxants, and topical creams or gels.
However, if you experience chronic back pain, your doctor will suggest more comprehensive approaches based on the diagnosis of your condition.
How to Treat Chronic Lower Back Pain?
The treatment from chronic back pain depends on the underlying condition causing it, and it often requires a multidisciplinary approach.
Is There a Way to Prevent Lower Back Pain?
Although you cant predict things like injuries, you can design a plan for preventing back pain. That may include:
Who Can Help Me With Lower Back Pain?
How Is Lower Back Pain Diagnosed
Your provider will ask about your symptoms and do a physical exam. To check for broken bones or other damage, your provider may order imaging studies. These studies help your provider see clear pictures of your vertebrae, disks, muscles, ligaments and tendons.
Your provider may order:
- Spine X-ray, which uses radiation to produce images of bones.
- MRI, which uses a magnet and radio waves to create pictures of bones, muscles, tendons and other soft tissues.
- CT scan, which uses X-rays and a computer to create 3D images of bones and soft tissues.
Depending on the cause of pain, your provider may also order blood tests or urine tests. Blood tests can detect genetic markers for some conditions that cause back pain . Urine tests check for kidney stones, which cause pain in the flank .
Dont Think About Lower Back Pain While Sleeping Only
Its not just about lower back pain while sleeping only. As DailyHealthPost points out:
Ultimately, its not just about how you sleep. Your posture and activity during the day has a significant effect on muscles that may wind up feeling sore no matter what position you sleep in. During the day, focus on maintaining good posture at work and taking frequent breaks to get up and stretch.
Lower back pain is a condition that affects up to 80% of people in the United States. Its a widespread issue, and only tackling it when it comes up at night likely wont fix your pain entirely. In addition to modifying your bedtime routine, look towards things you can do during the day to reduce back pain. These include:
- Using hot or cold therapy for temporary relief of back pain
- Trying out chiropractic care or physical therapy for reducing more severe cases of back pain
- Taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications to reduce pain when it flares up
Also, make sure to follow along with the PainDoctor.com blog as we often discuss lifestyle changes you can make every day to reduce lower back pain.
Recommended Reading: Advil Vs Ibuprofen For Back Pain
Whats The Best Position For Standing
Maintain good posture while you stand. Keep your ears, shoulders, and hips in a straight line, with your head up and your stomach pulled in. Try not to slouch or arch your back. These put added pressure on your lower back. Wear shoes that are comfortable and provide support. If you stand for long periods, rest 1 foot on a low stool to relieve pressure on your lower back. Every 5 to 15 minutes, switch the foot youre resting on the stool.
% Of People Will Experience Back Pain At Some Time But There Are Ways To Find Relief
As people enter middle age, they are more likely to experience bouts of low back pain. In fact, according to the Harvard Special Health Report Men’s Health: Fifty and Forward, back pain affects about four in five Americans at some point in their lives and equally strikes men and women.
Age is often the culprit. Over time, the bones and joints in your lower back begin to change. Your discs tend to wear out and sometimes become fragmented. These structural alterations sometimes cause pain.
Another cause of low back pain, although it occurs less often, is a herniated disc. Sometimes, a disc pushes outside the space between the bones and compresses a nerve at the point where it branches off the spinal cord. When the sciatic nerve that leads into the buttocks and leg is affected, the pain is called sciatica.
Yet, most cases of low back pain stem from strain or sprain due to simple overuse, unaccustomed activity, excessive lifting, or an accident. In most cases the best move is to wait and see if the pain resolves on its own. If the pain does not improve after three to four days, then it’s time to see a doctor.
However, depending on the source of your back pain and its severity, you might try a few home remedies for low back pain to help ease the pain until your back returns to normal. Here are several options to consider:
Complementary therapies. Several types of complementary therapy may be helpful for relief from low back pain. These include:
Recommended Reading: Exercise For Lower Back Pain Mayo Clinic
What Are The Symptoms Of Lower Back Pain
Symptoms of lower back pain can come on suddenly or appear gradually. Sometimes, pain occurs after a specific event, such as bending to pick something up. Other times, you may not know what caused the pain.
Pain may be sharp or dull and achy, and it may radiate to your bottom or down the back of your legs . If you strain your back during an activity, you may hear a pop when it happened. Pain is often worse in certain positions and gets better when you lie down.
Other symptoms of lower back pain include:
- Stiffness: It may be tough to move or straighten your back. Getting up from a seated position may take a while, and you might feel like you need to walk or stretch to loosen up. You may notice decreased range of motion.
- Posture problems: Many people with back pain find it hard to stand up straight. You may stand crooked or bent, with your torso off to the side rather than aligned with your spine. Your lower back may look flat instead of curved.
- Muscle spasms: After a strain, muscles in the lower back can spasm or contract uncontrollably. Muscle spasms can cause extreme pain and make it difficult or impossible to stand, walk or move.
Six Stretches To Help Alleviate Low Back Pain And Tightness
Letâs admit it, having low back pain is no fun, especially when you wake up in the morning with it knowing that you have a full day at work ahead of you. That is why we believe that every morning you should spend a few minutes stretching out the most important and most engaged muscles in the low back.
Sitting at your desk all day can lead to lower back pain, neck pain, shoulder tightness, and other ergonomic issues. Performing daily stretches can help you loosen your muscles and improve your flexibility, making your body more resilient and better able to handle a full day at your desk.
- Knee to Chest
Use this stretch to align pelvis and stretch lower back and rear end muscles. Lie flat on your back with toes pointed to the sky. Slowly bend your right knee and pull your leg up to you chest. Wrap your arms around your thigh, knee or shin, and gently pull the knee towards your chest. Hold for 20 seconds and slowly extend the leg to starting position. Repeat three times each leg.
- Lying Knee Twist
- Use this movement to stretch the paraspinal muscles and strengthen the abdominal muscles. Lie on your back with your legs extended straight out. Bend the right knee up and cross it over the left side of your body. Hold in a position that allows you to feel a gentle stretch through the back and buttocks muscles for 20 seconds. Tighten your core muscles and rotate back to center. Repeat three times on each side.
Don’t Miss: How Much Advil Can I Take For Back Pain
Simple Stretches To Relieve Lower Back Pain
Lower back pain can be a debilitating and painful condition.
Fortunately, staying physically active may be the most effective and cost-efficient way to soothe or prevent it.
Here are 8 simple stretches to relieve lower back pain.
Although its origin varies, changes in the lumbar, or lower back, structure due to musculoskeletal damage are considered to be the main cause .
Your musculoskeletal system is made up of bones, muscles, tendons, ligaments, and other connective tissues that provide form, support, stability, and movement to your body.
Other muscles that play an important role in maintaining the normal curvature of your spinal column are reported to be associated with lower back pain. These include the hip flexor and hamstring muscles .
Minor lower back pain normally gets better on its own within a few days or weeks. It can be considered chronic when it persists for more than three months .
In either case, staying physically active and regularly stretching can help reduce lower back pain or prevent it from returning .
The remainder of this article provides eight stretches for lower back pain, all of which you can do in the comfort of your own home with minimal or no equipment.
Summary Lower back pain is an incredibly common condition that can be relieved or prevented with regular exercise and stretching.
The knee-to-chest stretch can help lengthen your lower back, relieving tension and pain.
To perform the knee-to-chest stretch:
Overlooked Remedies For Lower Back Pain Relief
When lower back pain persists and continues to interfere with your quality of life, multiple treatment options may be needed for adequate relief. Below are some back pain treatments that are commonly overlooked or underused. Try one or more of these remedies to see which one, or combination, works best for you.
Read Also: Does Aleve Help Back Pain
It All Starts With Speaking To Your Doctor
The first step is to talk to your primary care physician about your back pain. They have a more holistic view of your health. So its a good idea to consult with them before seeing a specialist.
Perhaps youve already had an initial consultation with your doctor. Maybe youve even had an imaging study, like an MRI, done on your lower back. Those are great initial actions. Now its time to discuss your treatment options.
Your PCP can lay out the different routes you can take to manage your pain. And they can make suggestions as to what options are best for you. Your primary care doctor is familiar with your medical history. So they can also give you an idea of additional health benefits a particular therapy may provide you.
Talking to your PCP will ensure you are working together to develop a clear treatment plan. Thats the most important step towards feeling better.
How Are Sleep And Lower Back Pain Related
Researchers have long seen an association between lower back pain and sleeping problems, and growing evidence points a two-way relationship in which they can be mutually reinforcing.
Discomfort from pain can be a major barrier to sleep. Lower back pain makes it hard to get comfortable enough to fall asleep or may provoke nighttime awakenings when pain surges.
At the same time, people with sleep problems are more likely to start having pain or to have pain get worse. Experts arent certain why this happens, but there are several potential explanations. Sleep deprivation may impair healing, affect mood in a way that heightens pain sensitivity, or disrupt chemicals in the brain that are involved in how we experience pain.
Also Check: Back Pain Advil
What To Look For In A Mattress
Your mattress matters too.
Doctors used to recommend very firm orthopedic mattresses to people with lower back pain. But dont go out and buy one just yet. Recent surveys have shown that people who use extremely firm mattresses may have the poorest sleep.
That said, a mattress thats too soft wont help very much with alignment.
If you have the funds to buy something new, try choosing a firm or medium-firm mattress made with good-quality innersprings or foam. You may also improve the innerspring mattress you already own by adding a memory foam mattress topper.
It may be difficult to tell if that mattress at the store really feels comfortable after only a few minutes of testing. Some companies let you test out a mattress over a set period of time and then return it if its not for you.
Not in the market right now? You can see if a firmer mattress would help you by placing an inexpensive plywood board under your current mattress. You can even place your mattress on the floor to see if lessening the movement of the springs helps with your pain.
What Should I Know About Back Pain
Back pain is a very common problem and will affect many of us at some point during our lives.
The good news is that in most cases it isnt a serious problem, and it might just be caused by a simple strain to a muscle or ligament.
As far as possible, its best to continue with your normal everyday activities as soon as you can and to keep moving.
Being active and exercising wont make your back pain worse, even if you have a bit of pain and discomfort at first. Staying active will help you get better. Taking painkillers can help you do this.
Recommended Reading: Aleve And Back Pain
Hot Or Cold Therapy For Low Back Pain
Hot or cold packs may help ease pain and reduce symptoms. The soothing relief from heat, or the dulling relief from a cold pack, is only temporary and will not treat more serious causes of back pain. However, they may provide greater mobility for people with acute, subacute, or chronic pain, allowing them to get up and get moving.
Can Your Mattress Cause Lower Back Pain
Because it is a principal means of supporting the body during sleep, a mattress can play an important role in preventing or reducing lower back pain.
Proper spinal alignment demands a mattress that is in good condition and doesnt sag excessively. Research supports using a medium-firm mattress to combat lower back pain, although the most appropriate firmness can vary based on a persons weight, body shape, sleeping position, and individual comfort preferences.
Read Also: Aleve Lower Back Pain
What Research Is Being Done
The mission of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke is to seek fundamental knowledge of the brain and nervous system and to use that knowledge to reduce the burden of neurological disease. NINDS is a component of the National Institutes of Health , the leading supporter of biomedical research in the world.
As a primary supporter of research on pain and pain mechanisms, NINDS is a member of the NIH Pain Consortium, which was established to promote collaboration among the many NIH Institutes and Centers with research programs and activities addressing pain. On an even broader scale, NIH participates in the Interagency Pain Research Coordinating Committee, a federal advisory committee that coordinates research across other U.S. Department of Health and Human Services agencies as well as the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs.
The Best Sleeping Positions For Lower Back Pain
The best sleeping position for lower back pain is on your side with a partial bend in the knees. Keeping the knees bent helps balance the body and reduces pressure on the lumbar spine. Many people find it helpful to put a small pillow between their knees to make this position more comfortable.
Unfortunately, many back and stomach sleepers have a hard time changing their sleeping position. Even so, they can take steps to reduce strain on their lower back:
- Back sleepers can put a pillow under their knees, legs, and/or lower back to support the natural curve of the spine and minimize lumbar pressure.
- Stomach sleepers should opt for only a thin pillow under their head and place a more supportive pillow under their hips and abdomen. This works to prevent the lower back from sinking into a U-shape that pulls the spine out of alignment.
Some people with back pain use an adjustable bed that makes it easy to raise the upper or lower part of the mattress in a way that decreases tension in the lower back.
Also Check: Advil For Lower Back Pain
Bonus Tip: Consider Taking A Vitamin D3 Supplement
If your doctor agrees, consider taking a vitamin D3 supplement. Vitamin D is essential for bone, neuromuscular, and immune system function. Taking a vitamin D3 supplement can help reduce back pain by increasing the absorption of calcium in your body and improving bone strength.15
Finding the perfect pain relief technique is usually a process of trial and error, making it worth exploring various approaches. Try these natural pain-relieving strategies for your back pain and see what works best for you. Severe pain that is not relieved by self-care must be evaluated by a health professional for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan.