Try To Boost Your Mood
No, the lower back pain isnt in your head, but obsessing over it could be making it worse. Fear, anxiety, and catastrophizing can amplify pain, says Dr. Mackey. Because brain circuits that process pain overlap dramatically with circuits involved with emotions, panic can translate into actual pain. Start by accepting that you have pain, Dr. Mackey says. Then say to yourself, it will get better. If you struggle with overall mental wellbeingsay, you have anxiety or depressionin addition to your physical aches, it could be worth seeing a therapist to manage negative thought processes while exploring other lower back pain treatments.
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.
What Are The Treatments For Lower Back Pain
Lower back pain usually gets better with rest, ice and over-the-counter pain relievers. After a few days of rest, you can start to get back to your normal activities. Staying active increases blood flow to the area and helps you heal.
Other treatments for lower back pain depend on the cause. They include:
- Medications: Your provider may recommend nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or prescription drugs to relieve pain. Other medications relax muscles and prevent back spasms.
- Physical therapy : PT can strengthen muscles so they can support your spine. PT also improves flexibility and helps you avoid another injury.
- Hands-on manipulation: Several hands-on treatments can relax tight muscles, reduce pain and improve posture and alignment. Depending on the cause of pain, you may need osteopathic manipulation or chiropractic adjustments. Massage therapy can also help with back pain relief and restore function.
- Injections: Your provider uses a needle to inject medication into the area thats causing pain. Steroid injections relieve pain and reduce inflammation.
- Surgery: Some injuries and conditions need surgical repair. There are several types of surgery for low back pain, including many minimally invasive techniques.
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Moving Is Probably The Most Important Thing You Can Do For Back Pain
When back pain strikes, your first instinct may be to avoid physical activity and retreat to the couch until the pain subsides.
But doctors now think that in most cases, this is probably the worst thing you can do. Studies comparing exercise to no exercise for chronic low back pain are consistently clear: Physical activity can help relieve pain, while being inactive can delay a persons recovery.
Exercise is helpful for a number of reasons: It can increase muscle strength, which can help support the spine It can improve flexibility and range of motion in the back, which can help peoples functional movement and get them back to their normal living it can boost blood flow to the soft tissues in the back, which promotes healing and reduces stiffness. These are just a few reasons why researchers who study back pain suggest opting for exercise before some of the passive therapies like acupuncture or massage .
Researchers in this 2016 review of the research on exercise for chronic nonspecific low back pain summarized exercises range of benefits, including these pretty amazing findings:
- Aerobic exercise for 20 min on a cycle ergometer at 70% peak oxygen uptake reduced the pain perception for more than 30 min for patients with .
- Improving the flexibility of the lumbar spine and hamstrings can significantly reduce by 18.5%58%.
- Core stabilization programs have been shown to significantly reduce by 39%76.8%, and a muscular strength program significantly reduced by 61.6%.
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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Who Gets Back Pain
Most people have back pain at some point in their lives. Its one of the most common medical problems. Youre more likely to experience back pain as you get older.
Many people hurt their backs when they lift, push, or pull something that’s too heavy.
You may also be at risk for back pain if you:
- Are pregnant
- Have poor posture
- Arent physically active
- Fall or have an accident
- Have a health problem that can cause back pain
How Is It Diagnosed
The diagnostic process is mainly focused on the triage of patients with specific or non-specific low back pain. Specific low back pain is defined as symptoms caused by a specific pathophysiological mechanism, such as hernia nuclei pulposi, infection, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, fracture, or tumour. A study in the United States found that of all patients with back pain in primary care, 4% have a compression fracture, 3% spondylolisthesis, 0.7% a tumour or metastasis, 0.3% ankylosing spondylitis, and 0.01% an infection. Non-specific low back pain is defined as symptoms without a clear specific causethat is, low back pain of unknown origin. About 90% of all patients with low back pain will have non-specific low back pain, which, in essence, is a diagnosis based on exclusion of specific pathology.
Most episodes of acute low back pain have a favourable prognosis, but recurrences within a year are common
Diagnostic triage focuses on excluding specific pathology and nerve root pain
Imaging might be indicated only in patients with red flag conditions
Evidence mostly favours active compared with passive treatments in acute and chronic low back pain
Evidence based guidelines for the management of low back pain are available in many countries, but implementation needs more effort
The main challenge is the early identification of patients at risk for chronicity and subsequently preventing the chronicity from occurring
Indicators for nerve root problems
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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.
Ways To Avoid Back Pain
If youâve been sidelined by a sore back, youâre not alone. Four out of five people experience back pain at some point, making it the second most common reason for visiting the doctor.
Back pain takes various forms, from a persistent dull ache to sudden sharp pain, and has many causes. Sometimes it results from a sprain, fracture, or other accidental injury. It can stem from a disease or medical condition, such as arthritis, fibromyalgia, or spinal stenosis . Many people develop back pain in part because theyâre overweight or sedentary.
The good news is that most lower back pain usually gets better within a few days or weeks, and surgery is rarely necessary. Whatâs more, simple self-help strategies such as these can be surprisingly effective at preventing back pain and keeping it from returning:
1. Get more exercise. If your back is hurting, you may think the best way to get relief is to limit exercise and to rest. A day or two of rest may help, but more than that may not help the pain. Experts now know that regular physical activity can help ease inflammation and muscle tension.
3. If you smoke, stop. Smoking restricts the flow of nutrient-containing blood to spinal discs, so smokers are especially vulnerable to back pain.
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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.
Maintain Correct Posture During Activities
To protect your lower back from injury, its important to maintain proper posture when performing physical activitiesespecially if you play sports or have a job that requires repetitive motions. Avoid slouching as much as possible and aim to keep your spine erect. When lifting, bend and straighten from the knees, not the waist. And be sure to move your hips when twisting from side to side.
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Dont Slump Over Your Desk
When sitting in an office chair, use the same good posture techniques you use when standing. Its critical to keep good posture and support your back when sitting down, especially if you do it for several hours per day. Choose a quality chair that provides firm support for your lower back, and make sure your knees are a little higher than your hips when you sit.
Role Of Chiropractic Care In Chronic Low Back Pain
Chiropractic is a profession dedicated to non-surgical and more natural forms of treatment. It specializes in disorders of the nervous system and musculoskeletal system. You must know that chiropractic care is a scientifically proven treatment for low back pain. Actually, researchers that study chiropractic care have focused their research on how effective it is in reducing pain in the lower area of the back.
Do you not see the connection? Well, its very simple. The nervous system is in charge of the sensation and perception of pain. As we already learned, one of the most common causes of chronic low back pain is a compressed nerve. And as we have seen, many conditions result in pinched nerves.
While other fields in medicine treat pain through medication and some of the other previously mentioned treatments, which only scratch the surface of the issue, chiropractic care aims to find the root of the problem. And by doing this, the chiropractor can treat the pain and not put a band-aid on it.
The chiropractor may perform an adjustment, also known as spinal manipulation. This is one of the main procedures that a specialist in this profession performs and it is done by hand. In this treatment, the chiropractor applies controlled pressure to joints in the spine. This will correct any misalignment in your spine, and therefore, relieve that chronic pain that youve been begging to leave you.
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Tips To Relieve Lower Back Pain
If you are reading this, you are probably experiencing lower back pain or know someone who is.
Back pain is one of the most common medical complaints in the world. Studies show that up to 70% of adults will experience some kind of back pain during their lives. Worldwide, back pain is the main reason for missed work days and the second most common reason to visit a doctor.
Back pain may be caused by a sprain you suffered at work or from doing chores around the house. Or, the pain may result from an injury or a chronic condition, like arthritis.
If your pain is sudden or severe, you should get checked by your doctor. But, if you are experiencing a nagging pain or discomfort, there are things you can do to relieve the pain. Here are a few things to try.
1. Move. It may be uncomfortable, but one of the best things you can do to deal with lower back pain is to move around. Get on your feet and take a walk. Whether its a brisk walk around the block or a slow stroll, walking can help to strengthen back muscles, which will improve support for the spine.
2. Stretch. Often, lower back pain results from tight muscles. Stretching can increase flexibility and loosen muscles. Yoga is excellent to keep the body limber. Stretching exercises may also help.
3. Exercise. Beyond stretching, you should exercise to strengthen your core, which provides important support for your back. Pilates and tai chi are useful for strengthening the core.
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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How Is Low Back Pain Diagnosed
A complete medical history and physical exam can usually identify any serious conditions that may be causing the pain. Neurologic tests can help determine the cause of pain and appropriate treatment. Imaging tests are not needed in most cases but may be ordered to rule out specific causes of pain, including tumors and spinal stenosis. Occasionally the cause of chronic lower back pain is difficult to determine even after a thorough examination.
Blood tests are not routinely used to diagnose the cause of back pain but might be ordered to look for signs of inflammation, infection, cancer, and/or arthritis.
Bone scans can detect and monitor an infection, fracture, or bone disorder. A small amount of radioactive material is injected into the bloodstream and collects in the bones, particularly in areas with some abnormality. Scanner-generated images can identify specific areas of irregular bone metabolism or abnormal blood flow, as well as to measure levels of joint disease.
Discography involves injecting a contrast dye into a spinal disc thought to be causing low back pain. The fluids pressure in the disc will reproduce the persons symptoms if the disc is the cause. The dye helps to show the damaged areas on CT scans taken following the injection.
Electrodiagnostics can identify problems related to the nerves in the back and legs. The procedures include:
Symptoms Of Lower Back Pain
The symptoms of lower back pain can vary from person to person. It may come on suddenly, perhaps after youve lifted something heavy or moved in a way thats hurt your back. Or it may come on gradually over time or for no apparent reason. The pain can be mild or severe. Some people also have pain in the buttock or down one leg, sometimes as far as the calf or the toes. This is called sciatica.
Most people with back pain symptoms have whats called non-specific back pain. This means theres no clear or specific cause . It means that often tests cant really help because no specific damage to the spine or muscles around it would show up on them. This might sound unsettling, but it means that theres no serious cause for the pain.
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Acupuncture Seems To Help Too Sort Of Though Its More Controversial
One of the oldest approaches to back pain is acupuncture, a core part of traditional Chinese medicine. The philosophical underpinning of acupuncture is that disease or pain in the body is the result of imbalances between the bodys yin and yang forces. Vital energy circulates throughout the body along the so-called meridians, which have either Yin or Yang characteristics, the Cochrane authors explain. Using needles to stimulate the parts of the body that are located on these meridians can modulate pain or reverse disease, practitioners claim.
A 2005 Cochrane review looked at the evidence for acupuncture and low back pain and came to a few useful conclusions: There was insufficient evidence to make any recommendations about acupuncture for acute low back pain so it may or may not help people. For chronic pain, acupuncture seemed to offer more pain relief when compared with no treatment or sham acupuncture . The needling also improved function in the short-term when compared with no treatment for chronic pain sufferers. But acupuncture was not more effective than other treatments.
UpToDate looked at more recent research and noted that the studies on acute pain were still limited, and that evidence for acupunctures effects on chronic pain is somewhat conflicting. The review also noted it was unclear whether acupunctures benefit lies in the needling, or in the placebo effect.