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How To Heal From Lower Back Pain

Movement Is Better Than Bedrest

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A person with acute, mechanical low back pain should return to normal physical activity as soon as possible. Bed rest or inactivity longer than 48 hours can make the initial injury worse.

Inactivity leads to weakening of the core muscles. When core muscles are weak, other muscles compensate, which can contribute to poor posture and further exacerbation of pain .

According to the National Institute of Health:

Bed rest should be limited. Individuals should begin stretching exercises and resume normal daily activities as soon as possible, while avoiding movements that aggravate pain.

Strong evidence shows that people who continue their activities without bed rest following onset of low back pain appear to have better back flexibility than those who rested in bed for a week.

Other studies suggest that bed rest alone may make back pain worse and can lead to secondary complications such as depression, decreased muscle tone, and blood clots in the legs.

Stretch Your Hamstrings Twice Daily

One often overlooked contributor to lower back pain is tight hamstrings. If your hamstring muscleslocated in the back of your thighsare too tight hamstrings your lower back and sacroiliac joints will be stressed, leading to more pain. Hamstring stretching should be done carefully and at least twice per day for 15-30 seconds each time.

There are many gentle stretching exercises that should not hurt.

Watch:Wall Hamstring Stretch for Low Back Pain Relief Video

Medication For Treating Lower Back Pain

Your physician will recommend some medication for you depending on the period of time you have suffered from lower back pain, your medical history and evident symptoms. The following medications can be recommended for you:

Acetaminophen and Non Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs such as naproxen and ibuprofen may be prescribed to relieve lower back pain. You can buy them over counter but for stronger ones the doctor will advice and prescribe.

  • Muscle Relaxants â These drugs helps in reduction of muscle pains and spasms.
  • Opiate Pain Relievers â This is a very powerful and strong medicine prescribed to alleviate severe lower back pain in cases where other types of medicines have not succeeded.
  • Anti-depressants â These are drugs such as duloxetine and amitriphyline which are used in treatment of depression but are also prescribed in treatment of chronic lower back pain.

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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.

What Is Lower Back Pain

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Low back pain can result from many different injuries, conditions or diseases most often, an injury to muscles or tendons in the back.

Pain can range from mild to severe. In some cases, pain can make it difficult or impossible to walk, sleep, work or do everyday activities.

Usually, lower back pain gets better with rest, pain relievers and physical therapy . Cortisone injections and hands-on treatments can relieve pain and help the healing process. Some back injuries and conditions require surgical repair.

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Get Adequate Sleep To Support The Healing Process

One of the best ways to encourage sleep is to induce physical weariness through active exercise. Chronic inactivity does not create a need for the deep sleep that is so helpful for physical and emotional healing. Clearly, stimulants such as caffeine or nicotine should be avoided at bedtime. Smoking should also be avoided because it diminishes the available blood supply and makes the nervous system more sensitive.

What Is The Outlook

Most of us will have a bout of nonspecific low back pain at some point in our lives. The severity can vary. However, it is difficult to quote exact figures as to outlook . This is partly because it is so common and many people with back pain do not consult a doctor. Roughly, it is thought that:

  • Most nonspecific back pains ease and go quickly, usually within a few weeks.
  • In about 4 in 10 cases, the pain has completely gone within four weeks.
  • In about 7 in 10 cases the pain has completely gone within one year.

However, once the pain has eased or gone it is common to have further bouts of pain from time to time in the future. Also, it is common to have minor pains on and off for quite some time after an initial bad bout of pain. In a small number of cases the pain persists for several months or longer. This is called chronic back pain.

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Lower Back Pain And Cancer

Cancer involving the lumbar spine is not a common cause of back pain. However, in people who have a prior history of cancer, for example, in the breast or prostate, or who have weight loss or loss of appetite along with back pain cancer needs to be considered.

Night pain can be a clue to cancer in the spine. A benign tumor called osteoid osteoma, which most often affects young people, causes pain that tends to respond well to aspirin. Multiple myeloma is a malignancy that occurs when the plasma cells in the bone marrow begin spreading uncontrollably. It is most common in older people, and can cause pain in many parts of the spine. When tumor or infection are suspected, blood tests may be ordered, including a CBC , sedimentation rate , and protein electrophoresis .

What Does Low Back Strain Feel Like

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Symptoms of low back strain include:

  • Pain and stiffness in the back.
  • Pain in the buttocks and the legs, often in the back of the thigh.
  • Pain that worsens when bending, stretching, coughing, or sneezing.

Since some symptoms of low back strain are similar to those of more serious conditions, it’s important to get checked out by a doctor. Any numbness and weakness in your legs, or bowel and bladder problems, can be a sign of nerve damage — and that needs immediate medical attention.

To diagnose low back strain, your doctor will give you a thorough exam. You may also need X-rays, MRIs , and CT scans. These extra tests may only be needed if your pain doesn’t go away on its own or with conservative treatment.

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Stop Smoking To Improve Oxygen Flow To The Spine

Studies have shown that the development of lower back pain was significantly associated with smoking. The underlying theory for this is that smoking deprives the spine structures of nutrients, particularly oxygen in the blood supply and thereby interferes with the spine’s attempts to repair itself. Stopping smoking can improve oxygen flow and improve rehabilitation outcomes.

What Exercises Can I Do To Strengthen My Back

Always stretch your back and body before you exercise. For a gentle stretch, lay on your back with your knees bent. Slowly raise your left knee to your chest and press your lower back into the floor. Hold for 5 seconds. Relax and repeat the exercise with your right knee. Do 10 of these exercises for each leg.

In addition to back exercises, its important to stay active in general. Swimming and walking are good exercises to improve your overall fitness.

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Manage Anxiety About Low Back Pain

Controlling anxiety and fear of re-injury and low back pain is very important to regain normal muscle function. The basis for these psychological reactions to low back pain lies in the central nervous system, which responds to pain by instructing the muscles near the affected part to protect against further injury. Only appropriate physical training that specifically tells the muscles to improve their function can overcome this neurological barrier to normal muscle function.

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Low Back Pain Prevention

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The prevention of back pain is, itself, somewhat controversial. It has long been thought that exercise and an all-around healthy lifestyle would prevent back pain. This is not necessarily true. In fact, several studies have found that the wrong type of exercise such as high-impact activities may increase the chance of suffering back pain. Nonetheless, exercise is important for overall health and should not be avoided. Low-impact activities such as swimming, walking, and bicycling can increase overall fitness without straining the low back.

  • Specific exercises: Talk to your doctor about how to perform these exercises.
  • Abdominal crunches, when performed properly, strengthen abdominal muscles and may decrease the tendency to suffer back pain.
  • Although not useful to treat back pain, stretching exercises are helpful in alleviating tight back muscles.
  • The pelvic tilt also helps alleviate tight back muscles.
  • Lumbar support belts: Workers who frequently perform heavy lifting are often required to wear these belts. There is no proof that these belts prevent back injury. One study even indicated that these belts increased the likelihood of injury.
  • Standing: While standing, keep your head up and stomach pulled in. If you are required to stand for long periods of time, you should have a small stool on which to rest one foot at a time. Do not wear high heels.
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    How Do You Treat Back Strain

    Back pain will not get better by lying down. Inactivity can actually make the pain worse. It reduces muscle tone and flexibility and might increase the risk of a blood clot.

    Over-the-counter hot or cold packs can help with pain, as can some anti-inflammatory medicines. Movement has been proven to normalize pain response with your nerves. Staying active is the best remedy. Your doctor may recommend certain exercises, but ultimately sprained back healing time is lessened if proper treatment is implemented early.

    What Causes Low Back Pain

    Injuries are a common cause of low back pain. Examples include a muscle strain or spasm, ligament sprain, joint problem, or a slipped disk. A slipped disk, or herniated disk, has to do with your spine. It occurs when a disk between the bones of your spine swells or bulges and presses on your nerves. Twisting while lifting often causes this. Many people who have a slipped disk do not know what caused it.

    You may have low back pain after doing an activity you arent used to, such as lifting heavy furniture or doing yard work. Sudden events, such as a fall or a car wreck, can cause low back pain. You also may have low back pain from an injury to another part of your body.

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    What Can Cause Lower Back Pain

    Most acute low back pain is mechanical in nature, meaning that there is a disruption in the way the components of the back fit together and move. Some examples of mechanical causes of low back pain include:

    Congenital

    • Skeletal irregularities such as scoliosis , lordosis , kyphosis , and other congenital anomalies of the spine.
    • Spina bifida which involves the incomplete development of the spinal cord and/or its protective covering and can cause problems involving malformation of vertebrae and abnormal sensations and even paralysis.

    Injuries

    • Sprains , strains , and spasms
    • Traumatic Injury such as from playing sports, car accidents, or a fall that can injure tendons, ligaments, or muscle causing the pain, as well as compress the spine and cause discs to rupture or herniate.

    Degenerative problems

    • Intervertebral disc degeneration which occurs when the usually rubbery discs wear down as a normal process of aging and lose their cushioning ability.
    • Spondylosis the general degeneration of the spine associated with normal wear and tear that occurs in the joints, discs, and bones of the spine as people get older.
    • Arthritis or other inflammatory disease in the spine, including osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis as well as spondylitis, an inflammation of the vertebrae.

    Nerve and spinal cord problems

    Non-spine sources

    What Are The Symptoms Of Lower Back Pain

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    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.

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    Symptoms Of Lower Back Pain When Walking

    If youre experiencing pain in your lower back when walking, you may have felt some of these symptoms already.

    Pay attention to what your back is telling you. What type of discomfort are you feeling? Is it dull pain? Is it shooting pain? Identifying the type of pain will help your doctor figure out whats going on.

    Also, pay attention to where you feel the pain. Is it in one specific area? Is it acute pain that radiates across your lower back?

    The type of pain and its location may help you and your doctor determine whats going on.

    If you are experiencing lower back pain when walking, here are some pain symptoms you may be feeling:

    • Stiffness

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    Get Enough Restorative Sleep

    Pain is a leading cause of insomniadifficulty with falling asleep and/or staying asleep. Inadequate sleep can also make your back pain worse. This vicious cycle makes it more difficult for you to get restorative sleep.

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    Getting enough restorative sleep is needed for the bodys tissues to heal and recharge energy levels. If you have trouble sleeping, it is important to address pain or other factors that are causing it. Your doctor might recommend lifestyle changes, medications, or other treatments depending on what is disrupting your sleep.

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    Less Common Causes Of Low Back Pain

    Inflammation of the joints of the spine sometimes causes back pain. Osteoarthritis is the common form of arthritis and usually occurs in older people. Ankylosing spondylitis is another form of arthritis that can occur in young adults and which causes pain and stiffness in the lower back. Rheumatoid arthritis may affect the spine but you are likely to have other joints affected too.

    Various uncommon bone disorders, tumours, infection and pressure from structures near to the spine occasionally cause low back pain .

    The rest of this leaflet is mainly about nonspecific low back pain – the common type of low back pain.

    Manage Or Reduce Stress

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    Stress can trigger muscle tension and painful spasms, including in the back. If long-term stress or a traumatic event seems to have caused back pain, a person can try stress-relief techniques, such as:

    • Mindfulness meditation.One study showed that mindfulness-based stress reduction improved back pain. Mindfulness involves being aware of what the body is doing and using meditation techniques to assist with the pain.
    • Deep breathing. Taking deep breaths in and out for several minutes can calm the bodys stress response.
    • Progressive muscle relaxation. This involves tensing and relaxing muscles in the body, focusing on one muscle group at a time. Lying on their back, a person can start with their feet and gradually move up to the shoulders.
    • Guided imagery. This involves focusing on specific mental images to bring about a feeling of relaxation. One study found guided imagery and music helps with work-related chronic stress.
    • Yoga. Yoga focuses on particular poses and breathing and can help with relaxation, especially when practiced regularly. One review found yoga to be an effective stress management tool.

    Many smartphone apps are available to guide a person through relaxation techniques and meditation.

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    Yoga For Lower Back Pain

    Research has shown that yoga is a very effective tool to quickly recover from lower back pain. A yoga professional will guide on which type of pose to perform depending with the severity of your pain or injury. The following yoga poses can help you reducing and healing of your lower back pain.

    • Two Knee Twist â In this yoga pose for lower back pain, you will bend your knees towards your chest as you lie on your back and bring your arms to a T-position. Then lower your knees to the floor on the right as you breath out. Lower your knees further from the right arm when a shoulder lifts and be in that position for about 2 minutes.
    • Supine Hamstring Stretch â In this yoga pose for treating lower back pain, you will lie on your back and bend your right knee towards the chest and put a rope or a cloth around the ball of your foot. Then straighten your leg towards the ceiling. Hold that pose for about 5minutes and repeat it with the other legs and both legs.
    • Legs Up The Wall â In this yoga pose for lower back pain you will scoot your buttock to the wall and start swinging your feet up the wall. This type of yoga pose for treating lower back pain helps in relaxing of the lower back muscles and drain out stagnant fluids from the feet and ankles. It is advisable to do this pose after a long drive or traveling by plane and after lifting heavy objects.

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