Persistent Low Back Pain
Nonspecific low back pain is classed as chronic if it lasts for longer than six weeks. In some people it lasts for months, or even years. Symptoms may be constant. However, the more usual pattern is one in which symptoms follow an irregular course. That is, reasonably long periods of mild or moderate pain may be interrupted by bouts of more severe pain.
Is Your Job Causing Back Pain
A job that involves pulling, lifting, or twisting with the low back can cause injury and low back pain. Even prolonged sitting in an awkward position can cause low back pain. Standing on your feet for hours on end? That can cause lower back pain too. The best way to prevent back pain is to know if you are at risk.
Jobs That Can Cause Lower Back Pain
- Airline crew
- Office personnel
Look Into Getting A New Mattress
How old is your bed? You may be surprised to learn that the average life span of a mattress is less than 10 years. Theres no hard-and-fast rule, says Sean Mackey, MD, PhD, chief of the division of pain medicine at Stanford University, but if your mattress is sagging significantly or is more than six to eight years old, Id think about getting a new one.
Something else to consider: A firm mattress may not do your back any favors, says Carmen R. Green, MD, a physician at the University of Michigan Back & Pain Center. A number of studies over the years suggest that people with lower back pain who sleep on medium-firm mattresses do better than those with firm beds, she says.
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What Is The Anatomy Of The Low Back
To understand various causes of low back pain, it is important to appreciate the normal design of the tissues of this area of the body. Important structures of the low back that can be related to symptoms in this region include the bony lumbar spine , discs between the vertebrae, ligaments around the spine and discs, spinal cord and nerves, muscles of the low back, internal organs of the pelvis and abdomen, and the skin covering the lumbar area.
The bony lumbar spine is designed so that vertebrae “stacked” together can provide a movable support structure while also protecting the spinal cord from injury. The spinal cord is composed of nervous tissue that extends down the spinal column from the brain. Each vertebra has a spinous process, a bony prominence behind the spinal cord, which shields the cord’s nervous tissue from impact trauma. Vertebrae also have a strong bony “body” in front of the spinal cord to provide a platform suitable for weight bearing of all tissues above the buttocks. The lumbar vertebrae stack immediately atop the sacrum bone that is situated in between the buttocks. On each side, the sacrum meets the iliac bone of the pelvis to form the sacroiliac joints of the buttocks.
How To Fix Bad Sciatic Pain
This article was medically reviewed by . Dr. Litza is a board certified Family Medicine Physician in Wisconsin. She is a practicing Physician and taught as a Clinical Professor for 13 years, after receiving her MD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health in 1998.There are 11 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. In this case, several readers have written to tell us that this article was helpful to them, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 270,811 times.
Experts say that sciatic pain, called sciatica, is typically caused by a herniated disk, bone spur, or narrowing of your spine. Typically, sciatica causes radiating pain that starts in your lower back may radiate through your buttocks, hip, and thigh.XTrustworthy SourceMayo ClinicEducational website from one of the world’s leading hospitalsGo to source Research suggests that most people with sciatic pain improve in a few weeks with self care. In the meantime, over-the-counter pain relievers and rest may help you manage your pain.XTrustworthy SourceHarvard Medical SchoolHarvard Medical School’s Educational Site for the PublicGo to source
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Bonus Tip: Soothe The Pain With Cold And/or Hot
Don’t underestimate the pain reduction of simply applying cold packs and/or hot packs to help reduce your lower back pain.
- Cold therapy helps reduce inflammation and pain. Some examples include wrapping ice in a cloth, a pack of frozen peas from the freezer, or a cold gel pack. Always keep at least one layer between your skin and the ice/cold pack.
- Heat therapy helps improve blood flow, relaxation, and pain relief. Heat therapy can come in many forms. It’s best to try several to find what works best for you. Taking a warm bath or shower, soaking in a hot tub, or using a heating pad or heat wrap are all ways to bring warmth to your lower back.
Whether applying ice or a heat pack, limit applications to 15 or 20 minutes with at least 2 hours of rest in between to protect your skin. Never sleep with a heating pad or frozen pack as this can lead to permanent skin damage.
Hopefully these overlooked remedies can help you try some new approaches to better manage your lower back pain and find lasting relief.
Medication From The Store
There are two kinds of over-the-counter pain relievers that frequently help with back pain: nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and acetaminophen. Both have some side effects, and some people may not be able to take them. Talk to your doctor before taking pain relievers. And don’t expect medication alone to solve your pain problem. Studies show you’ll probably need more than one type of treatment.
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Treating Lower Back Pain: How Much Bed Rest Is Too Much
Back pain is one of the most common reasons why people visit a health care provider. The good news is that the pain often goes away on its own, and people usually recover in a week or two. Many people want to stay in bed when their back hurts. For many years, getting bed rest was the normal advice. But current studies recommend no bed rest at all and stress that staying in bed longer than 48 hours not only wont help but it may, in fact, actually delay your recovery. Heres why:
Staying in bed wont help you get better faster.If youre in terrible pain, lying down for a day to help ease the distress may seem like a good idea, but moderating your activities and staying active in a limited way is a more effective way to control your symptoms. Research suggests that if you can find comfortable positions and keep moving, you may not need bed rest at all.Research shows that:
- Lying down longer than a day or two day isnt helpful for relieving back pain.
- People can recover more quickly without any bed rest.
- The sooner you start moving, even a little bit, or return to activities such as walking, the faster you are likely to improve.
Who needs bed rest?Almost no one! The only people who might require time in bed are those with unstable spinal fractures awaiting surgery.
When should I see a health care provider?You should see your health care provider right away if:
- Heat or ice
Check with your health care provider before starting an exercise program.
Low Back Pain Treatment
Epidural Steroid Injection
Epidural steroid injections are most commonly used in situations of radicular pain, which is a radiating pain that is transmitted away from the spine by an irritated spinal nerve. Irritation of a spinal nerve in the low back causes pain that goes down the leg. Epidural injections are also used to treat nerve compression in the neck , referred to as cervical radiculopathy, which causes pain.
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Back Exercises And Stretches
Simple back exercises and stretches can often help reduce back pain. These can be done at home as often as you need to.
For information about exercises and stretches that can help, see:
A GP may be able to provide information about back exercises if you’re unsure what to try, or you may want to consider seeing a physiotherapist for advice. Read about how to get access to physiotherapy.
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.
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How To Fix Back Pain When Sleeping
Why is it that kids can sleep in the strangest, most bizarre positions, but never seem to have any pain?
How is that they can sleep in totally unnatural positions and still sleep just fine?
And why is it that even when I try to sleep in a perfect position, on a great bed, with tons of pillows, I cant sleep. What the heck is going on?
After many years of sleepless nights, I figured out the answer.
a bonus step by step guide here to getting pain free .
Where Can I Get More Information
For more information on neurological disorders or research programs funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, contact the Institute’s Brain Resources and Information Network at:
Office of Communications and Public LiaisonNational Institute of Neurological Disorders and StrokeNational Institutes of HealthBethesda, MD 20892
NINDS health-related material is provided for information purposes only and does not necessarily represent endorsement by or an official position of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke or any other Federal agency. Advice on the treatment or care of an individual patient should be obtained through consultation with a physician who has examined that patient or is familiar with that patient’s medical history.
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Which Health Care Specialties Treat Low Back Pain
Physician specialties that evaluate and treat low back pain range from generalists to subspecialists. These specialties include emergency medicine physicians, general medicine, family medicine, internal medicine, gynecology, spine surgeons , rheumatology, pain management, and physiatry. Other health care providers for low back pain include physical therapists, chiropractors, massage therapists, psychologists, and acupuncturists.
Effects Of Poor Posture On Lower Back Pain
Regardless if you are sitting or standing, poor posture will put more pressure on your spine than sitting or standing with good posture.
Additionally, poor posture eventually leads to very tight hip flexors which pull the front of the pelvis down and results in something called “anterior pelvic tilt.”
This condition is characterized by an excessive arch in the lower back which causes strain and pain in the area. To make matters worse, the glutes become weak and inactive.
Although this may not be the root cause of your back pain, I highly suggest that you try out the fixes listed later on in this article and see if it provides any lower back pain relief.
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The Proper Painless Position For Your Spine
Alright, so youre going to have to trust me on this next one your spine wants to be perfectly aligned all day.
Standing, sitting, walking, sleeping your spine really only has one optimal position, although its obviously built to accommodate flexibility and constant motion.
When you mess up that natural, optimal alignment for too long , pain results. Comprende?
Heres your normal spine:
Heres a common misalignment of the spine, where the shoulders are hunched and the head pokes out :
And heres another common spinal misalignment that is frequent in many of us who sit a lot. Tight hip muscles cause the lower back to overly arch:
Via University of Maryland Medical Center
So what do any of these have to do with your sleep?
Its important to know what proper spinal alignment is versus dysfunctional alignment so that when you sleep you can quickly remind yourself how to get into a properly aligned position.
The real question is how to keep the natural position of the spine while sleeping.
Resources and tools mentioned in this article:
Understanding The Lower Back
The lower back is also called the lumbosacral area of the back. It is the part of the back between the bottom of the ribs and the top of the legs.
Most of the lower back is made up from muscles that attach to, and surround, the spine. The spine is made up of many bones called vertebrae. The vertebrae are roughly circular and between each vertebra is a disc. The discs between the vertebrae are a combination of a strong fibrous outer layer and a softer, gel-like centre. The discs act as shock absorbers and allow the spine to be flexible.
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More Advanced Options From Back Pain Specialists
If pain becomes chronic and persistent, dont wait too long to see a back pain specialist. Back pain does not have to destroy your quality of life, notes pain management specialist Ellen Rosenquist, MD.
Combining a wide array of procedures including the conservative therapies above in a comprehensive pain management plan can reduce pain and improve functionality.
Drs. Rosenquist and Mayer agree that more invasive treatments can make rehabilitation easier:
Ways To Turn Good Posture Into Less Back Pain
Most of us get back pain at some point in our lives. It may be due to a sports-related injury, an accident, or a congenital condition such as scoliosis. But most of the time, upper or lower back pain develops during the course of day-to-day life. Repetitive activities at work or home, such as sitting at a computer or lifting and carrying, may produce tension and muscle tightness that result in a backache. One solution to preventing back pain is to improve posture.
In addition to improving your posture, general physical fitness and a healthy weight are important are important, too. But the surprisingly simple act of paying attention to improving your posture can go a long way.
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Change Up Your Sleep Position Or Mattress
Switching to a more supportive sleep position can reduce lower back pain. Also consider how you can use pillows or invest in a new mattress to support better spinal alignment and relieve lower back pain.
Research suggests medium firm mattresses are the best mattresses for back pain. In one study of people with low back pain, those who slept on medium firm mattresses reported lower pain scores both during sleep and upon getting up in the morning.
Books That I Use Religiously
Pete Egoscue Pain Free:
A few of the exercises demonstrated here are ones that I learned from the Egoscue method one of the only things that has worked for me.
Consistently, after having spoken with chiropractors and doctors, who gave me zero useful advice about self-treating back pain, this book has come through.
You can read more about the book Pain Free on Amazon here.
Esther Gokhale 8 Steps to a Pain Free Back
Petes book is less about how to walk and move on a day to day basis, and shows exercises you can do right now.
Esthers book is the opposite it shows you how to sit, stand, sleep, and move to stop and prevent back and neck pain. It was pretty enlightening to see her research based on third world country populations with minimal back pain.
Trigger Point Therapy Workbook
The trigger point therapy workbook is a book Ive used to learn where to self-massage using the Theracane and the trigger point therapy ball mentioned above.
Personally, Its a really useful book for learning the locations to self-massage, as well as learning where pain gets referred from other areas.
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