Risk Factors Of Low Back Pain
Anyone can develop back pain, even children and teens. These factors might put you at greater risk of developing back pain:
- Age: Back pain is more common as you get older, starting around age 30 or 40.
- Lack of exercise: Weak, unused muscles in your back and abdomen might lead to back pain.
- Excess weight: Excess body weight puts extra stress on your back.
- Diseases: Some types of arthritis and cancer can contribute to back pain.
- Improper lifting: Using your back instead of your legs can lead to back pain.
- Psychological conditions: People prone to depression and anxiety appear to have a greater risk of back pain.
- Smoking: Smokers have increased rates of back pain. This may occur because smoking prompts more coughing, which can lead to herniated disks. Smoking can also decrease blood flow to the spine and increase the risk of osteoporosis.
Manual Therapies: Physio Osteopathy And Chiropractors
Whether manual therapies help back pain or not is a matter of debate in healthcare circles.
For manual therapies such as massage, and the hands-on aspects of physiotherapy, chiropractic or osteopathy, the clinical evidence isnt that strong but there is some evidence that its better than nothing, and can provide short-term symptom relief.
Manual therapies shouldnt be the standalone treatment for back pain, but theres little harm in considering them as a supplement to exercise and movement, Dr O’Connell told us.
Indeed, physical movement forms a large part of the treatment plans within these disciplines, so if some symptom relief through massage or other manual therapy helps you to exercise, then overall this is positive.
It’s also worth acknowledging that something that feels nice can help you to cope with pain and relieve associated anxiety.
But its a matter of personal preference , and the bottom line is that you shouldnt feel like getting a massage is a prerequisite to recovery.
There are some aspects of manual treatments that we know arent necessary such as the click where your spine feels like its jolted back into place. Dr OConnell says that we actually dont know what this is but, while it sounds dramatic, its not something being fixed or put back into place.
Exercises For Low Back Pain
Doing exercises to strengthen the lower back can help alleviate and prevent lower back pain. It can also strengthen the core, leg, and arm muscles.
According to researchers, exercise also increases blood flow to the lower back area, which may reduce stiffness and speed up the healing process.
Below, we explain how to do 10 exercises that strengthen the lower back and may help people manage lower back pain:
Bridges work a persons gluteus maximus, which is the large muscle of the buttocks. People engage this muscle when they move their hips, particularly when they bend into a squat.
The gluteus maximus is one of the most important muscles in the body, and keeping it strong can help support the lower back.
To perform a bridge:
- Lie on the ground and bend the knees, placing the feet flat on the floor hip-width apart.
- Press the feet into the floor, keeping the arms by the sides.
- Raise the buttocks off the ground until the body forms a straight line from the shoulders to the knees.
- Squeeze the buttocks with the shoulders remaining on the floor.
- Lower the buttocks to the ground and rest for a few seconds.
- Repeat 15 times and then rest for 1 minute.
- Do 3 sets of 15 repetitions.
2. Knee-to-chest stretches
Doing a knee-to-chest stretch can help elongate the lower back, relieving tension and pain.
To perform the knee-to-chest stretch:
3. Lower back rotational stretches
To perform the lower back rotational stretch:
4. Draw-in maneuvers
To perform the draw-in maneuver:
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Unexplained Acute Low Back Pain
Unexplained low back pain means chronic pain that comes on gradually, over time, with no specific injury, event, or illness causing it.
- Prolonged sitting and lack of fitness can weaken back muscles and cause pain from lack of support.
- Ankylosing spondylitis, a form of arthritis.
- Spinal stenosis, a narrowing of the spinal column that puts pressure on the spinal cord.
- Certain types of cancer, in rare cases.
Those most susceptible are over 30, overweight and/or pregnant, and not physically fit. Smoking interferes with healing after any sort of stress to the back.
If there are additional symptoms, medical care should be sought: fever, unexplained weight loss, leg weakness or numbness, or trouble urinating.
An exact diagnosis is made through blood tests and through imaging such as x-rays, CT scan, or MRI.
Once more serious causes are ruled out, treatment may include medications to ease pain, swelling, and inflammation. Steroid injections are useful in some cases.
Overall, exercise and maintaining a healthy weight can be very helpful with easing chronic low back pain.
Top Symptoms: lower back pain, back pain that shoots to the butt, fever, back pain
Symptoms that always occur with unexplained acute low back pain:lower back pain
Symptoms that never occur with unexplained acute low back pain:buttocks numbness, thigh numbness, involuntary defecation, fever
Why Do We Experience Back Pain
Back pain has numerous causes. These can include injury, joint problems and muscles strains. The location of back pain can help to identify the causes.
What causes lower back pain?
Lower back pain is commonly caused by:
- Muscle spasms or a strain or tear in the muscles and ligaments. This can happen after: – Bending, lifting or carrying heavy objects – Sitting or driving in a hunched position
Upper back pain is commonly caused by:
- Muscular irritation caused by weak muscles, accidents and overuse or sports injuries
Causes of back pain at work
If your job involves the following tasks and they are not performed properly, this can lead to back pain:
- Lifting, carrying, pushing or pulling incorrectly
- Sitting or driving for long periods without taking a break
- Standing or bending for long periods
Everyday activities that can cause back pain
Back pain can be triggered by everyday activities at home including:
- Bending awkwardly
- Lifting, carrying, pushing or pulling incorrectly
- Slouching in chairs
- Standing or bending for long periods
- Sitting or driving for long periods without taking a break
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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.
What Are Some Complementary Alternative And Emerging Treatments For Lower Back Pain
In some cases, doctors suggest therapies that are not considered standard of care. They probably wont be covered by insurance, but they may be worth considering. Examples include:
Platelet-rich plasma . PRP treatments use a small sample of your own blood that has concentrated amounts of blood building blocks known as platelets. Your doctor then injects the PRP directly into a damaged disc. The theory is that PRP injections use your own healing system to accelerate improvement of injured tendons, ligaments, muscles, and joints. PRP treatment has a longer track record in knee osteoarthritis, but a recent review article in the Journal of Spine Surgery suggests it may have a useful role for back pain, too. PRP needs a lot more research before it can be considered a proven technique.
Stem cells. In this emerging treatment, your doctor injects stem cells harvested from your hip into the intervertebral disc or discs causing your pain. Doing so may lessen pain and the degenerative effects of aging, though, like PRP, more research is needed before stem cells for lower back pain could eventually become the standard of care.
Acupuncture. Your doctor probably doesnt perform acupuncture , but may support you trying it as a complementary therapy. Acupuncture involves careful insertion of fine, sterile needles into specific points on your body. This may stimulate the release of your natural pain-killing chemicals.
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When Is Lower Back Pain An Emergency
Most episodes of lower back pain eventually resolve on their own, but there are times when you should seek urgent medical attention. Some of these situations include:
- Patient is a child
- Pain is severe, constant, suddenly or progressively worsens, and/or doesnt go away
- Pain interrupts sleep
While some situations may warrant immediate intervention, most cases are not urgent and can be scheduled at a time convenient for the patient.
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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One Back Pain Treatment You Probably Dont Need
Back pain can be incredibly frustrating, and going under the knife may seem like the quickest, easiest fix to bring relief. But the truth is, many people dont need surgery for lower back pain management, Dr. Park says.
If your back pain is musculoskeletal, you will not require surgery, but if its a pinched nerve thats due to a disc herniation or something else, you may need to have surgery, he says. But even in those people, when you go through a six-to-eight-week course of treatment that includes physical therapy and activity modification, 85 to 90 percent of the time, they wont need surgery.
However, if you try the treatments above and dont see any improvement or still feel pain, talk to your doctor about a referral to a pain management specialist, as more specific tests or treatments may be required to get to the bottom of whats going on.
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What Is The Function Of The Low Back
The low back, or lumbar area, serves a number of important functions for the human body. These functions include structural support, movement, and protection of certain body tissues.
When we stand, the lower back is functioning to support the weight of the upper body. When we bend, extend, or rotate at the waist, the lower back is involved in the movement. Therefore, injury to the structures important for weight bearing, such as the bony spine, muscles, tendons, and ligaments, often can be detected when the body is standing erect or used in various movements.
Protecting the soft tissues of the nervous system and spinal cord as well as nearby organs of the pelvis and abdomen is a critical function the lumbar spine and adjacent muscles of the low back.
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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.
What Home Remedies For Lower Back Pain Actually Work
Unless youve had a major injury, such as a fall or car accident, you probably dont need to rush to the doctor for back pain. You may want to try these simple self-care strategies first.
Avoid bed rest. When lower back pain strikes, people often think complete rest will relieve back pain. However, a review of many clinical studies found that patients who retreated to bed actually experienced more pain and recovered more slowly than patients who stayed fairly active
Use ice and/or heat. Many people find that using ice or cold packs for periods of up to 20 minutes at a time helps reduce pain and swelling. Always wrap ice or a cold pack in a thin towel before putting it on your body so you dont injure your skin. You may also find that heat, such as a heating pad or warm bath, eases pain. Ice is recommended in the first 48 hours after injury then you can try a combo of ice and heat.
Try over-the-counter remedies. Short-term use of OTC pain relievers, such as the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs ibuprofen and naproxen, may ease your lower back pain. Also consider OTC creams, gels, patches, or sprays applied to the skin. They stimulate the nerves in the skin to provide feelings of warmth or cold in order to dull the sensation of pain.
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Find Activities That Make You Happy
Ongoing back pain can wreak havoc on your life, affecting your cherished relationships, finances, and your ability to get stuff done at work and at home. Finding activities that make you happy can help reduce some stress and may relieve some pain.
Some people find that even doing just 3 things that make them feel good each daysuch as enjoying a comforting cup of tea or coffee, calling an old friend, walking the dog, or receiving a longish 30-second hug from a loved onecan make pain more tolerable.
Is It Possible To Prevent Low Back Pain
Avoiding injury to the low back is a method of preventing low back pain. Additionally, conditioning exercise programs designed to strengthen the lumbar area and adjacent tissues can help to minimize risk of injury to the low back. Specific programs to relieve and prevent back pain can be designed with the help of physical therapists and other treating health care professionals.
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What Is The Prognosis
In general, the clinical course of an episode of acute low back pain seems favourable, and most pain and related disability will resolve within a couple of weeks. This is also illustrated by the finding that about 90% of patients with low back pain in primary care will have stopped consulting their doctor within three months. Croft suggests that in many patients low back pain symptoms fluctuate over time.w5 Most patients with back pain will have experienced a previous episode, and acute attacks often occur as exacerbations of chronic low back pain. So recurrences are common. Pengel et al estimated the cumulative risk of at least one recurrence within a 12 month period to be 73% .w2 The severity of these recurrences, however, is usually less and does not always lead to a new visit to the general practitioner., Only a small proportion of people with an acute episode of low back pain develop chronic low back pain and related disability.
Lower Back Pain Causes
Nonspecific low back pain means that the pain is not due to any specific or underlying disease that can be found. It is thought that in some cases the cause may be an over-stretch of a ligament or muscle. In other cases the cause may be a minor problem with a disc between two spinal bones , or a minor problem with a small facet joint between two vertebrae. There may be other minor problems in the structures and tissues of the lower back that result in pain. However, these causes of the pain are impossible to prove by tests. Therefore, it is usually impossible for a doctor to say exactly where the pain is coming from, or exactly what is causing the pain.
To some people, not knowing the exact cause of the pain is unsettling. However, looked at another way, many people find it reassuring to know that the diagnosis is nonspecific back pain which means there is no serious problem or disease of the back or spine.
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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.
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.
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